After learning of the devastating extent of the injury to Alex McKinnon in Australia, I wanted to look at the topic of player safety within our sport. Thankfully, this sort of thing is especially rare in Rugby League but over recent years the issue of player safety has, it seems, arose more frequently than in the years preceding. We have seen the illegalisation of the ‘shoulder charge’, ‘cannonball’ and ‘chicken wing’ tackles over the last few seasons, as well a vast increase in the penalisation for ‘tip tackles’ - putting a player in a dangerous position.

I’ll start by nailing my colours well and truly to the mast, I’ve never really liked the on-report system. For me it is an easy cop-out for the weak referee; punishes the player after the event rather than benefitting the team offended against; and is a wholly unsatisfactory way to deal with incidents which incense supporters, rile players, and potentially effect results.

It is time we had a re-think and encouraged our referees to be empowered on the pitch and make the decisions to punish the offender’s on-the-spot ensuring that their team pays the penalty for their indiscretions.

Most supporters of the game will agree that the World Cup as a whole was a successful show piece for rugby league on the international stage. Profits were made, many games were well contested, crowd numbers were above expectations, and there was a genuine interest in the event. Detractors, however, would argue in direct contrast. There was no major sponsor for the event, the big three teams continued to dominate, the final was one-sided, and apart from Australia, England, France, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, most teams relied on heritage players to be competitive.

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The RLEF has introduced European Championship branding to its three-tiers of official competition, aligning the organisation with the majority of European sports.

The European Cup will now be known as the European Championship, while the Shield and Bowl are replaced by European Championship B and European Championship C. The latter two competitions are already linked and the RLEF is planning for all competitions to have a connecting relationship of some degree, pending confirmation of the Rugby League International Federation’s multi-year calendar.

The announcement this week that Sam Burgess will join Rugby Union side Bath at the end of the 2014 season should have disappointed all League fans. To see someone as young and talented as Burgess move over to the other code is a massive loss for the game but hopefully is the one that will finally let the RFL know that enough is enough.

An early Saturday morning alarm call will force open the eyes of the British rugby league public as a nation of oval-ball fanatics switch on the kettle and sizzle the bacon in anticipation of the World Club Challenge taking place over 10,000 miles away on the other side of the planet.

Last season the Melbourne Storm, came, saw and conquered the Leeds Rhinos and now it is the time for Wigan Warriors to defend a nation’s honour and try and to recreate the famous outcome achieved twenty years ago when they returned from a match in Brisbane, safely clutching the silverware.

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Speculation around Sam Burgess’ future in Rugby League occupies the headlines in Australia and with it comes the recurring debate about what this sport must do to retain our stars and halt the flow of high profile players across the divide to Rugby.

The argument around the current salary cap and potential exceptions or increases is now a familiar one among the Rugby League community, but one angle which isn’t as prominently discussed is the responsibility of Rugby Union as a sport in all of this.

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