Winter's coming, but what does this mean for Rugby League?
Rugby League is a sport with huge potential, quick plays and constant action for 80 minutes. But the sport has very little reach beyond what is known as the "M26 Corridor", and although it is thriving at some levels, there are several areas at grassroots level which indicate a diminishing appeal. I caught up with a few notable figures involved in Winter Rugby League to discuss their thoughts on the current shape of the sport.
Sonny Wilson - Bransholme
Sonny has played for and co-run Bransholme's winter Rugby League team for the past 14 years and is still waiting for his Bronze statue to be unveiled outside North Point Shopping Centre. Sonny seen a steady decline in the winter league for the past 8 years.
How would you describe the shape of Winter Rugby League, and what do you think effects the numbers of people participating?
" From when I started 14 years ago, the number of players are rapidly disappearing from our great sport .There was once 3 Hull Leagues, however today only one remains. I believe the main problem lies with work commitments. Years ago companies used to really get behind employees and encouraged them to play the game. If you got injured back then your job would still be safe! In this day and age you won't have one to go back to! I suppose you could also throw in to the mix that the modern day player coming in to winter rugby ages 18 to 20 would rather be playing summer.
I guess they don't make them the same now ha! But all joking a side I hope we can buck the trend and get more faces back down and start to get more players back in the divisions."
I also spoke to Ben Gunstead, a well known figure amongst Amatuer Rugby League Players in Hull and surrounding districts, to hear his take on the dwindling numbers involved in Winter Rugby League.
"Winter Rugby League is really struggling at the minute! Most the participation has gone to summer, and when you look at the past league tables from the 80's and 90's some teams had 2/3 open age sides and the rugby was that strong in hull, 'A' teams were winning Yorkshire cups! I played in the nineties and I listen to the stories from the veterans, and they have some great stories! Winter Rugby League used to be great!
"I retired in Feburary, I was playing for Bransholme but got cannon-balled and dislocated my kneecap! My kneecap bounced into my tibial plateau and shattered it and my meniscus snapped! So I've had a fair bit of metal work added to my lower leg
"The boys did brilliantly and got to the council cup final a week or after my injury and played valiantly angainst a very good "Tuns side.
The appeal is now towards summer rugby but I've only ever played winter rugby so its all I've known freezing cold mornings and the smell of deep heat in the changing rooms! I loved every minute of it... Other than the trips to hospital and the operating theatre! "