The proposal to switch the bulk of amateur rugby league to a summer (March-November) season appears to be a case of the RFL trying to fix something that ain’t broke.
Summer rugby for amateurs has been around for a long time but, apart from those ’development’ clubs in non-traditional areas that are made up largely of RU players in their close season, there hasn’t been exactly a rush to take part. Here in Barrow, where there are eight winter clubs most with two Open Age teams, there have been two attempts to launch summer teams - the Shipbuilders and the Vikings. Neither lasted a full season.
For whose benefit is the proposed change? In 15 years, Tameside Borough only once had to call off a game because of a player shortage. They switched to summer - became Manchester Knights in the original National League Three. They died within four years (through lack of players ready to commit to summer rugby). And isn’t it a fact that almost 20 per cent (nine of the 43 fixtures) in last weekend’s summer regional leagues were called off for one reason or another. Without proof I doubt if it was because of frozen or waterlogged pitches. It is more likely to have been a player-shortage. Other things to do in good weather?
So please RFL, let those who want summer rugby enjoy it for what it is, a social afternoon in the sun, and leave the rest to the people who think that tradition really does count for something.
Peter Wilson RL Journalist