Editor’s column: Summer opportunities and Jacques’ reality

·4-min read
England v Combined Nations All Stars in mid-season international Credit: PA Images
England v Combined Nations All Stars in mid-season international Credit: PA Images

The mid-season international window is a good idea in theory, it just falls a bit flat in reality.

Whatever your opinion on the Combined Nations All Stars opposition, the fact is that it isn’t a full strength England side without its NRL players.

It’s essentially an English Super League select side playing against a made-up team thrown together of the players whose clubs allow them to play.

While it’s undoubtedly much needed preparation for Shaun Wane ahead of the World Cup, it does little to capture the public’s attention.

International games are so few and far between in rugby league that they really ought to have more repute to them. Can that be done if not every player is made available?

The distance between the two main places where rugby league is played will always make true international competition difficult.

That being said, it hasn’t stopped Barrow’s Jarrod Sammut travelling to Australia to represent Malta against Lebanon this weekend.

But with the NRL likely to ditch their mid-season international window from next year, perhaps international rugby league should be permanently consigned to being played in the autumn.

For what it’s worth, I like the Combined Nations concept and it has potential to be an asset to Super League if done right. But it can only work if it’s given a serious billing and all players are made available.

In the context of a lack of competitive northern hemisphere countries, and the availability of southern hemisphere players based on these shores, it may be England’s only realistic chance for mid-season tests to continue.

MORE: NRL mid-season internationals could be scrapped after 2022

Summer series?

It was good, though, to see Wales take on France in Albi.

Some have said that France should have played England instead of the All Stars, but with the two drawn in each other’s group at the World Cup, it was decided that it wouldn’t be suitable.

But aside from those two games, it was a quiet weekend for rugby league in the prime summer months that it is supposed to be renowned for.

For the second time in four weeks, professional rugby league shut down for a showcase event.

It seems counter productive for rugby league to be marginalising itself during a time when there is no football being played.

More needs to be done to capture the attention in June and July.

Perhaps badging the middle part of the Super League season as the “Summer Series” and making sure a lot of key match-ups or local rivalries take place in the height of summer, live on Sky Sports, would be the ticket.

Make rugby league the summer attraction it surely set out to be when Super League was founded in 1996.

It battles for attention with other sports for half the year, and in the weeks where there’s not as much to contend with, we’ve had weeks without action.

Fortunately, the Championship will now kick in to a regular weekly schedule from this weekend until the end of the season having been stop-start for the first five months.

From one summer series to another

It was interesting to see reference to Jacques O’Neill’s “rugby fortune” in the press recently.

 Credit: PA Images
Photo credit: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

The former Castleford man is attracting tabloid attention during his stint in the Love Island villa.

Last week, it was said he was the top earner of the male’s on the show – estimating his salary in rugby league between £90,000 and £140,000.

While those figures are surely wide of the mark, it does maybe show that things aren’t quite as bad as they are made out to be.

Rugby league stars are of course dwarfed by the fortunes earned by footballers.

But for a 23-year-old to be earning a very decent salary as a professional sportsman is a better road than many.

It won’t set them up for life, but why can’t we be happy that rugby league can provide a full-time living for professional athletes for 10-15 years?

Should the mid-season international window be scrapped? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

The article Editor’s column: Summer opportunities and Jacques’ reality appeared first on Loverugbyleague.com.

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