With a plethora of huge fixtures coming up this weekend, former Sky Sports commentator Eddie Hemmings believes fans must return to the stadiums to bring a ‘spectacle’ to rugby league.
The two defining fixtures of the weekend are the Hull Derby between Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers, whilst West Yorkshire rivals Wakefield Trinity and Castleford Tigers will also clash.
Describing Derby week as a ‘fantastic occasion,’ Hemmings shared his views on the rugby league fixtures gripping fans’ attention this weekend, speaking on Betfred’s The Last Tackle podcast.
Noting that the Hull derby is a ‘blue-ribbon event’ in English rugby league circles, he added: “It’s a great week to look forward to. Please, if you’re watching this right now- go to the games. It was fantastic to see the Premier League coming back this week and the full house notices everywhere.
“What has saddened me over the past couple of weeks is that the public have put their hands up – we’ve seen swathes and swatches of empty chairs on the terraces at rugby league.
“I don’t think people have fallen out of love with the game, they’re probably just a little bit worried, but this is the weekend to get out and about and get into the grounds and make it a spectacle.”
An additional topic covered on the show was the Rugby League World Cup, which has been postponed following the decision by Australia and New Zealand to withdraw from the competition.
Australian and New Zealand rugby authorities defended their decision by referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that it was ‘simply too unsafe’ to allow teams and staff to travel to the UK, where the tournament is taking place.
The clubs of Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the world cup going ahead in 2021.
“At least it’s on, and I think we all agree that we cannot have a rugby world cup without Australia and New Zealand,” Hemmings remarked.
“I just think its a strange decision from the NRL clubs – India are here playing test cricket, there was the Olympic Games and Australia sent around 500 or 600 athletes and coaches to that, the Wallabies are coming up here, the England cricket team is going down there – why have they pulled the pin on it?
“Is it just purely and simply because they’ve got the six week that they have to give their players? I’m convinced the players, if you asked them, would say ‘we will come what may’.
He added; “We should be having it this year. Next year, there’s a FIFA World CUp happening, around the same time. The Rugby League World Cup could be swamped by all the publicity for that.”
Source – Betfred YouTube Channel