Visa blunder highlights lack of support from RFL

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MOST people about to go out for a few beers in a town in south-east France would be feeling pretty good.

Imagine the scene. You have just watched a high-scoring rugby game and for a few hours at least you can escape from the constant rain that has turned Sheffield into Splashfield.

But it doesn’t always work that way. Talking to Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston soon after the game you could hear and feel in his voice the impact of a 12-try defeat by Catalan Dragons. A 68-6 score line was bad enough although the Eagles were never expected to beat top Super League team Catalan Dragons in the fifth round Challenge Cup game. It was the way ‘his’ team had failed to perform as Aston believes and knows they can that hurt.

There really can’t be a tougher job than being the coach. They face a regular 80 minutes torture session when they must sit and watch. Players are judged on their individual performance – coaches have to rely on other people.

The run up to the French game also highlighted again that clubs like the Eagles cannot rely on support from the game’s governing body the Rugby Football League. Just about all the organisation for the trip fell on the Eagles small office staff. General manager Simon Proctor must have been filling in forms in his sleep.

Then for two days, first Aston then director Chris Noble shuttled between Sheffield and the French consulate in London to obtain visas for player Menzie Yere and assistant coach Waisale Sovatabua. An administration error (not by the Eagles) meant that Sovatabua didn’t make the trip.

Where was the support from the RFL? It seems the RL bureaucrats took French leave.

Hopefully like the last lingering traces of garlic the memories of the Catalan defeat and its associated frustrations will fade and the Eagles can get on with the business of the Championship when they play Leigh on Sunday.

Planning for Rugby League’s World Cup stumbles on. Yes there is a tournament and it’s being held in the UK next year. Understandably this may have slipped your mind. If the Government wanted to keep something secret they should hire the RFL and ask them to organise the publicity.

Last week, the plan to play two games involving Scotland in Cumbria disappeared into the mist on the Lakeland fells as a proposal to build a new stadium in Whitehaven was abandoned.

The World Cup is a chance to put the spotlight on the 13-a-side code’s international game. Taking games to the heartland area of Cumbria made sense – what didn’t was the snub to South Yorkshire with both Sheffield and Doncaster ignored. With three or four of the Scots squad playing for the Eagles there is now a chance to make amends. Instead there’s talk of taking games to a minor football ground in Scotland. It seems the RFL only want to have a crowd of one man and his dog.