Rugby league players set to be among biggest losers when sport emerges from coronavirus wreckage – Hull Daily Mail

There will be winners and losers as English sport picks up the pieces after an unprecedented jolt.

In football, teams are expected to pick up where they left off at the business end of the season and the clubs that suffer the most will point to sporting integrity being compromised.

Rugby league faces similar issues, albeit at the start of the campaign with Super League only seven rounds old when sport came to a halt in March.

Whereas the arguments in football are generally centred on the fairness of promotion and relegation in extraordinary circumstances, first and foremost rugby league is trying to stay alive amid the financial wreckage caused by coronavirus.

The furlough scheme has been the game’s saviour and understandably clubs are reluctant to cut the cord before it is scaled back at the end of July.

It is no coincidence that Super League plans to return in August, with minimising the number of games played behind closed doors and, of course, safety the other major factors.

In an ideal world teams would return to training in July or even sooner but you cannot carry out any work for your employer under the furlough scheme.

Toronto Wolfpack – Hull KR‘s first opponents – have an advantage in that respect given they are not tied to furlough but the rest of the Super League clubs face a difficult decision as they weigh up when to resume training, with Catalans Dragons on an equivalent scheme in France.

Some clubs simply cannot afford to leave the furlough scheme early. In KR’s case, coming off furlough could cost the club up to £150,000.

Players have already had to make sacrifices in the form of pay cuts and there is every chance they will be asked to play the first game back with only a handful of training sessions in the bank.

While they have been following individual programmes at home and should be in good shape by August, they will be nowhere near match fit after the best part of five months without contact.

Hull KR have not played since March 15

The issue of player welfare will come to the fore again and rightly so with injuries inevitable after such a lengthy lay-off and limited preparation time.

The governing bodies could help by tinkering with the rules, for instance allowing larger matchday squads and more interchanges.

It is likely to be a case of muddling through the early stages of the restart until there is a greater sense of normality.

Although rugby league players have this week united in a bid to get their voices heard on key issues in the game, the likelihood is they will just get on with it when August rolls around.

The powers that be may yet find the perfect solution but it seems inevitable that rugby league players will be among the biggest losers when sport emerges from the wreckage.

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