Clarke: A troubling time for rugby league


Phil Clarke

Rugby League Expert & Columnist

“What this does provide is a reminder for everybody – players, coaches, fans – how important it is to adhere to the rules”

Last Updated: 12/08/20 2:35pm








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Sky Sports’ Phil Clarke says rugby league faces a ‘very troubling time’ amid potential ramifications for Super League following the positive tests for coronavirus from Hull FC

Sky Sports’ Phil Clarke says rugby league faces a ‘very troubling time’ amid potential ramifications for Super League following the positive tests for coronavirus from Hull FC

Phil Clarke believes the news of positive coronavirus tests for six Hull FC players and two staff members will serve as a reminder to everyone involved in rugby league that they cannot let their guard down.

Public Health England confirmed the positive tests to Hull and last weekend’s opponents Salford Red Devils on Tuesday evening, with both clubs cancelling Wednesday’s training sessions and putting their respective squads into isolation.

Hull’s Super League clash with Castleford Tigers this weekend has now been postponed, as has Salford’s match against Catalans Dragons, and Sky Sports rugby league expert Clarke believes it shows the need to remain wary of the threat still posed by covid-19.

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Sky Sports News’ Fraser Dainton assesses the likely impact after news that 11 Salford players will be forced to isolate for 14 days

Sky Sports News’ Fraser Dainton assesses the likely impact after news that 11 Salford players will be forced to isolate for 14 days

“It’s a very troubling time for everybody involved in the game and, over the next few days, we’ll see what the ramifications are for Super League in the rest of 2020.” Clarke told Sky Sports News.

“Obviously, we hope people are healthy and stay safe, but being able to play the games in a safe manner is something the governing body will have to look at seriously.

“I think what this does also provide is a reminder for everybody – players, coaches, fans – how important it is to adhere to the rules.

“Everybody who is involved with the game wants to keep it on the field of play and alive in 2020. We need to stick to the rules and contain the spread of the virus.”

Obviously, we hope people are healthy and stay safe, but being able to play the games in a safe manner is something the governing body will have to look at seriously.

Phil Clarke

Unlike their counterparts in the NRL, Super League players have not been kept in a secure bubble except for within clubs and Clarke does not believe such a measure would be practical for the sport in the UK.

“We’ve seen examples of that in the [England] cricket Test series where players were in a secure environment,” Clarke said.

“I don’t think that’s practical – financially, logistically and for a number of other reasons – for rugby league in this country.

“The Catalans Dragons travel back and forth to France, so there is a further complication of a team from outside the UK taking part.

“It probably is a safe suggestion to put forward, but I don’t think it’s possible and I don’t think the game could continue in that manner.”

With the Hull squad currently self-isolating, there are also questions over whether their Challenge Cup clash with Castleford on Saturday, August 22 will have to be postponed as well.

Clarke is cautiously optimistic, however, that this news will not lead to too much disruption and that the 2020 season will be able to continue to a conclusion.

“This is in the hands of medics and experts who can determined whether it is safe for the game to continue,” Clarke said.

“I applaud everybody who has worked so hard to bring rugby league back to this country in a safe manner and I hope we can get back on top of this.

“It’s a minor blip, I hope, in Super League’s safe resumption.”

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