Written by Callum Walker
With Super League penciled in for an August 2nd restart, the excitement, tension and apprehension of what can be expected is starting to build. How will the English game cope without fans? How will the rule changes affect the sport?
The NRL has shown how it can be done; they have led from the front – as they usually do – and actually produced an incredible product. Whilst the games are played differently in both hemispheres, the inclusion of a six-again rule has sped up the Australian league no end.
With fitness increasing in importance, the ruck area has become less of a wrestle and more of a battle to release as quickly as possible in order to not concede an extra set. That rule change is certainly something which Super League fans can look forward to appreciate.
Too many times games have been held up in the past with laying on in the tackle that has gone unpunished. Now, though, with an even keener eye placed on the ruck speed, that should no longer be the case and we should now see faster paced fixtures just like in the NRL.
Super League’s return will, however, mean that only a select few grounds will play host. And, whilst the NRL has an abundance of top-class stadia to choose from, the English game is limited. Leeds’ Headingley has been touted as one of the hosts, but the quality of the grass leaves much to be desired even after just one game.
Oh how we’ve missed it…but @Betfred Super League set to return
02.08.20 – We go again 💪
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) June 26, 2020
As the amount of serious injuries suffered continues to mount Down Under, question marks do need to be raised about what kind of surfaces can be played on continuously in order to avoid the same happening upon Super League’s restart.
The reintroduction of spectators has been hailed in Australia, but the game still seemed to thrive with a virtual crowd noise. In fact, one could say that there was little difference. That Super League needs to replicate that is obvious and it will be interesting to see if that success can transcend both hemispheres.
Of course, the fans are the most important part of the sport, so cardboard cut-outs or something similar should be approved to let the spectators have some kind of input. Apart from that, the Rugby League fraternity appears increasingly enthusiastic about welcoming the sport back.
Let’s hope Super League takes a leaf out of the NRL’s books and makes it as great a success as possible.