Pointless exercise’: Leeds Rhinos fans united about England v France after Super League break
To paraphrase the Beatles: “Will you still need me, will you still play me, when
you score 64?”
England’s meeting against France last Saturday might contravene trades
description regulations for being called a ‘Test’.
International rugby league is perhaps the most shambolic aspect of the sport, even more dysfunctional than the domestic game.
Cricket fans know where the England Test team is playing for years to come, whilst any goodwill generated by last year’s World Cup has long since evaporated as the England RL side scratch about for someone to play in the autumn.
The RFL also needs to clamp down on the mass withdrawal of players, such as the ‘Saints Seven’ last week, because of ‘injuries’.
Maybe there needs to be a carryover ‘suspension’, so withdrawn players also miss the subsequent league game?
If IMG bin Magic Weekend, then I’d like to see it replaced with a ‘Representative Magic’ instead: Yorkshire, Lancashire, France, England, women’s Tests, Other Nationalities, Championship and League One representative sides, maybe split over east/west venues over a weekend and played in late July, when families could also use the opportunity to go on holiday without missing a domestic game.
One of the simple reasons we can’t match the Antipodean sides is that we don’t play enough high- intensity representative footy. It is about time to rectify
There was no game for the Rhinos last week as we broke for the internationals against France, which saw good performances from the England teams.
Our Ash Handley showed his class, scoring a well taken hat-trick, but having watched England’s games I’m not sure what the men’s and women’s coaches, Shaun Wane and Stuart Barrow, will have learnt from playing very poor French teams.
It seems to me that playing France is a bit of a pointless exercise at the moment. Hopefully the Tongan games later in the year will provide a better test.
Talking of which, a return of international rugby to Headingley is an exciting prospect and one I am really looking forward to.
On the domestic front, we are well into the season and are currently sitting in eighth place, two points behind a top-six position.
This is probably where I expected to be. Rohan Smith is building a good squad of young players who he rightly protects by not over-playing them.
These youngsters need to develop and grow; I know some fans are impatient and want to see the youngsters play every week, but I think Rohan is doing the right thing.
He was brought in because of his expertise in developing youngsters and I think this bodes well for the future.
We have some difficult fixtures in May: Salford, Saints and Wigan twice. All three teams are in form and playing some good rugby.
Hopefully the home tie in the Challenge Cup will be to our advantage, there’s nothing I like more than a good cup run.
Memories of my first Challenge Cup final in the rain on May 11, 1968, always come flooding back at this time of year. Cup final special trains, my wooden rattle and big rosette are still fresh in my mind.
Last week was a break in the regular season for an international day against France for the England women’s and men’s teams, with both winning 64-0: strong performances and, hopefully, a sign of things to come.
There was quite a lot of Rhinos influence as well, with Rob Burrow’s children bringing out the match ball for the men’s game as Rob beamed from ear to ear in the stand.
I can’t lie, this brought tears to my eyes. The strength of the whole family and how courageous Rob is makes me proud to be part of the rugby league family.
Georgia Roche played her last game before moving to Australia to play over there and had a real influence in the win. Keara Bennett and Amy Hardcastle also played a big part in the result.
Ash Handley scored a hat-trick in the men’s game, when he was one of 13 debutants for England.
The break, I think, will give the Rhinos players time to have a rest and reset. We are on a 50-50 win-lose ratio and have shown signs of what we are capable of, but there’s been too much sloppy play and attack.
I firmly believe we can get into the top-six by the end of the season. We just need to tighten things up and focus and work as a team.
I’m looking forward to Friday night’s game against Salford at Headingley and let’s see if we can get the two points and properly kick start the season.
As much as following Leeds Rhinos can be stressful, I do miss them when they don’t play.
However, a week off for most of our players is always welcomed and hopefully some of our injured players are closer to fitness and getting back on the pitch.
Looking back on our first 10 games of the season, we have a perfectly-balanced record of five wins and five losses, which is an improvement on where we were at this point in 2022. There are obvious areas for improvement which need to be addressed sooner rather than later, such as our dire away form and our inability to play well in consecutive games.
Wins against St Helens and Catalans Dragons showed the quality and effort this team can produce; we just need to push on now and make sure we are playing at that level against teams around us on the table.
I do believe in Rohan Smith to iron out those kinks and guide the team to a play-off place and hopefully some silverware.
The reason we had a week off from Super League was the mid-season international between England and France.
Whilst it is vital we push on from a somewhat successful World Cup, this fixture is not going to carry on that momentum.
International rugby league has the potential to bring so many much-needed new fans to the sport, but England versus an under-strength France team is not as interesting as the RFL think it is.
The scoreline, 64-0, proves it was a one-sided affair and the attendance being less than when England played the Combined All Stars shows that even rugby league fans are not interested in a friendly against France, let alone those who do not watch the sport.
From a Rhinos point of view, seeing Ash Handley score a hat-trick for England was very pleasing; let’s just hope he carries this form into Friday’s fixture against Salford.
Looking ahead to that game, a win against play-off rivals would be a big statement to the rest of the league.
Salford have some unreal players in Brodie Croft and former Leeds icon Kallum Watkins who we need to be wary of, but I back the Rhinos in front of a packed Headingley crowd.
As the season was put on hold last week for the England international, why don’t we look at how our new signings have fared 10 games into life at Headingley?
Some have started excellently, whilst others are yet to show what they are capable of. The most impressive signings look to be James McDonnell and Nene Macdonald.
The former was brought in to play a squad player role, however injuries meant McDonnell has found more game time than expected and has certainly proved he’s worth his place.
Macdonald’s signing was questioned by fans when announced, however 10 games in and he is quickly becoming a fans’ favourite and one of the first names on the team sheet.
Justin Sangare started very promisingly, being one of the few standouts against Warrington and Hull. He seems to have stagnated, as with all the pack, but he will improve.
Derrell Olpherts, and Sam Lisone are other signings that have had frequent game time. Olpherts is currently out with a leg injury, however his performances before that were disappointing to say the least. Sam Lisone has had a slow start but has finally found some fitness and as the season progresses will keep improving. As for the rest, it is too early to tell.