Salford v London

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Rugby league has a new coaching superstar.
Yesterday was the first time I’d met the London Broncos coach Joe Grima, but what an impression he left! He was honest, open and it was refreshing to have a coach who, despite a defeat, was smiling away and happily chatted to the gathered press at the A.J. Bell after his defeat to Salford Red Devils without reserve.
For my money, I hope he’s still in charge when (if) the Broncos head back to the top table following this seasons relegation. You can hear his post-match comments in full below, but he had a lot more positives to take from the game than certainly I expected.
On the other side of the coin, Iestyn Harris looked like his dog had just been shot despite a ten try haul that included a pair of hatricks, one for Greg Johnson and one for Josh griffin, who scored a total of thirty points, for his side and a much improved performance after the drubbing they and the clubs fans suffered the previous week, losing 42-6 to Wakefield. After last week, Harris had said that it was not possible to perform like that in a Salford shirt and as usual, the clubs owner Dr Marwan Koukash, was very vocal on social media about his feelings.
As it was, I thought Salford looked incredible for long spells of the game, and it was only in the last quarter that London started to make headway as the week’s hard graft that Harris had put his players through after last week began to take its toll and Salford began to look laboured.
As Iestyn said himself, he feels that after a real pre-season, Salford will have all the plays in place and the fitness to go toe to toe with any other club in the league. Given the undoubted beasting that the players endured over the last week, I don’t doubt it either.
As one fan commented to me, the club have the right man, the right players and all they need now is a chance to put plays together in the off season and gain the confidence in each other as a team that they sometimes look like they are missing on the pitch.
Either way, for me, the stand out man of the entire day was Joe Grima. The game needs more personalities like him at the helm of clubs. Coaches who are not scared of telling the truth or who are looking to hide behind referee’s decisions on the back of a bad result. London, I salute your club and wish you well for the future. You have the nucleus of a good young team who looked as if they will do well in the Championship, and should make the playoffs for a top table spot in 2016. Your signings have been astute and well thought through, with no panic buying of big names to buy your way back, but solid, reliable players with experience and a good blend of youth, I think the future of Rugby League in London is looking brighter by the year.
Please don’t let Joe go though!
Smiling Joe Grima

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I know what I’m here for!

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Dr Koukash at a press conference

Dr Koukash at a press conference

Recent still from Game of Thrones

Recent still from Game of Thrones

Well, I’ve finally been told what I’m going to be doing at the World Cup. I am to be a social media journalist & venue media assistant for the duration of the tournament.

And that’s all I know at the moment. I went to chat the other week to Emma Neve about the recruitment process ahead of a piece for Forty-20 magazine, the first of a series chronicling my experience from start to finish of the event as a volunteer.

She told me that interviews had taken place with people from all over the world, even Aussies who are over here for the cup and want to help out in between games have applied and interviews even took place via Skype! There were about 1200 applications for 8oo positions, so it was imperative that they got the right people for the job.

It was initially expected that most would want to do perhaps 3 or 4 matches, but its been more like 7 games that people have said they are willing to be at.

In other news, Al Boyle of the Sephton Trophy has been in touch and is looking to me to help out with a bit of Forces RL feature writing, which I’m more than happy to do. I need to sit down with Al once he’s home & settled from his latest trip to Afghanistan & sort out the details. If you want to know more about the Lawson Cup, which is the Armed Forces Rugby League trophy, then follow this link: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/armyrugbyleague/ where you can learn all about it.

So, Rugby League on telly.

We’ve come a long way since the BBC2 Television Floodlit Trophy in the 60’s. Now we have HD, 3D and even the ability to watch the game on your mobile phone from almost anywhere in the world!

First of all, let me say what Sky has done for the game in the summer era is amazing. Live games, play offs, Super League Supermen all fantastic. As someone who wasn’t too sure about Mondays, I can honestly say I’m a convert. Perhaps next season more for longer please Mr Murdoch? 3D is superb; the presenting style for Mondays was a real breath of fresh air as well. All the snazzy handovers, presenters on the pitch really adds to the entertainment for those not able to get to the game. As a former publican, I wish we’d had Super League Mondays back then. Rugby League was bigger for us in a little village outside Halifax than Football and we always had a great crowd of lads in for every game, probably just for the free pie & peas at ½ time, but either way, they were there also there to watch the match.

However…not everything Sky touches has turned to gold.

Boots N All is (let’s be honest) as dull as ditch water some weeks. I don’t know who produces it, but if Brian Noble thinks the on field game is being sanitised, he should watch B&A more often! Having watched the coverage of the game from other parts of the world, why can’t we have a fun filled hour that isn’t too stale, promotes the game in a fun way and allows more interaction with the fans? Perhaps a few competitions, ticket giveaways, phone in’s and stuff like that. I’m not asking for a 3 hour soccer AM style show, but an hour of fun, chat, competitions and something lighter than B&A has become.

What we need is a TV version of Forty-20 magazine. Super League back chat comes close, but its only 30 minutes and is well presented by Rodd Studd & Emu, sorry, Stevo along with a bewildering array of top quality journalists who all know the game inside out and are very opinionated on the subject.

Add 30 minutes to it and a few competitions & we might get more non RL fans tuning in to see what the fuss is about and then watching the games. We already know viewing figures are up for matches, but what about the rest of the shows?

Super League Supermen interviews are often moving, well presented and full of superb tales from the game, from the people who played it and again, those doing the interviews often make interviewees talk in a way they might not to someone outside of the game.

A good, honest down to earth programme that isn’t too stuffy, not afraid to tweak the noses of those in charge of the game and also with a few laughs and jokes as well. Barrie & Terry are underused, and they would make great hosts for the lighter side of the game. Remember the Varsity commentary we used to get from them? It was priceless.

We’ve always had a great rapport between players and fans. Why not use that openness to get right inside the game? A fan rep from each club in the studio, or, like the old fan zone for the football, commentating via the red button & then appearing with the pros to chat about the match.

Rugby League has never stood still. Perhaps we need something new from Sky to freshen up the way it’s seen by the casual fan & those who really love the sport for what it is.

The greatest game.