EDITOR’S COLUMN | Should we bring back the War of the Roses?

It is a question that has sparked debate amongst many a rugby league purist over the past few years- should we bring back Yorkshire vs Lancashire?

It used to be a mainstay of the English rugby league calendar, bringing the heartlands of the British game up against one-another, but aside from the inaugural Women’s War of the Roses in 2015, we haven’t seen the game take place since 2003.

Lee Radford in action during the War of the Roses. Photo Credit: RFL

It is astounding to think that an occasion that once created such a buzz and atmosphere has seemingly drifted into obscurity. Nevertheless, there is certainly a feeling that atmospheres and rivalries of old could be reinvigorated if the game was brought back.

You only have to look at State of Origin to see how big a deal clashes between two competitive rugby league areas. Of course, we aren’t suggesting that War of the Roses could become as well-attended and euphoric as State of Origin, but a return of Yorkshire vs Lancashire could well bring back stirring emotions that we haven’t seen in the English game for many a year.

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The RFL tried to introduce the England vs Exiles format, allowing the cream of homegrown talent to get together mid-season and play alongside others from the national setup. Although this was marketing well and created moderate levels of interest, for whatever reason it never seemed to hit the heights that RFL hoped.

Now, given the recent success of England’s mid-season test in Denver, it seems like the perfect opportunity to expand and try something new (or should we say something old)!

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All of these ideas are mere hearsay until we know what the future holds for Super League from 2019 onwards, but if reports of a return to ‘1 up, 1 down’ are true, this could well free up space in the rugby calendar, given that there could be less games to play if the 8’s format is abolished.

Sky have a broadcast deal with Super League until 2021 so will need a certain amount of games to be played in order to satisfy the terms of the deal- could the reduction of Super League games give the chance perhaps for a three-game series between Yorkshire and Lancashire to take place?

Like State of Origin, this series would not need a permanent home; it could have two games in one county and the third in the other, or perhaps this could provide an opportunity for the deciding game to be played in a rugby league location that the RFL is trying to break into- perhaps the likes of Cumbria, Newcastle, London or even further afield in North America!

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Regardless of where they choose to play, if the logistics of staging this event can once again be agreed and broadcast partners can be appeased, it seems like ample opportunity to try and bring one of the UK’s most historic games back into the mainstream fold.

It may take a little time to get back up-and-running, but surely the aim would be to have sold-out arenas with passionate locals, being broadcast on a global scale, showcasing the best that English rugby league has to offer.

Surely that isn’t a bad thing, right?

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