It’s been exactly three months since the last Rugby League played in England.
Three long months, in which too many lives have been lost, and too many people kept apart.
But now momentum is steadily building, towards the return of the sport we love – the NRL is already back in Australia, and on our TV screens, and Government guidelines have identified a way back for sport in this country, in different ways for elite and community players.
Who better to sum up that prospect than Ben Taylor?
Ben, for those who don’t know, is a stalwart of the Royal Navy and Armed Forces league teams – as he described for the Our Voice series earlier this year.
But he’s also developed a cult following for his Yorkshire Prose – since penning his first verse, a tribute to a beloved sausage dog named Barbara, followed quickly by ‘An Introduction to t’Yorkshire Dialect’ for his friend's son Joshua.
With his usual passion and authenticity, Ben reflects on how and why we’ve all missed Rugby League over these last three months; how the RL family has responded, with typical resilience and generosity; and how much we’re all relishing the chance to celebrate the return of the game.
Thanks also to Ashley Denton, our RFL Senior Content Producer, for applying some Lancastrian polish to the accompanying video.
The poem, and video, features:
The herculean fund-raising efforts of the Steve Prescott Foundation in and around St Helens, with a dash of X-factor from Johnny Vegas and even Russell Crowe;
The equally inspirational response to adversity shown by Rugby League heroes Mose Masoe and Rob Burrow, and the work of the Rugby League Benevolent Fund, and Rugby League Cares;
Rugby League’s pivotal importance in the communities in which it has become so deeply rooted over the last 125 years;
The mouthwatering prospect of next year’s three Rugby League World Cups – Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair;
The range of initiatives launched by the RFL, Rugby League Cares and our professional and community clubs to encourage children and adults to stay active during lockdown, and to stress the importance of mental health;
And not forgetting the exhilarating brilliance of the on-field action that will be back with us soon – the pace and power, the dazzle and even the biff.
As Ben concludes: “In years to come, we’ll reflect on this time we’ve had here - and how Our League has come together, in this our 125th year.”