20th February 2021, 10:36 | rugby_league_cares

Rugby League Cares approach digital milestone

Rugby League Cares approach digital milestone

Rugby League Cares is on the brink of an astonishing milestone of FOUR MILLION views of the archive matches and clips that have been entertaining supporters during the lockdowns of the last 12 months.

That will be a remarkable legacy to the 13-a-side code from David Power, the Honorary Secretary of the Welsh Charitables RFC, who has been mourned by so many in rugby since his death over Christmas – and who spoke so warmly of the initiative when it was launched during the initial lockdown last spring.

It was the Welsh Charitables who helped fund the donation of equipment necessary for the painstaking process of converting thousands of matches and other television programmes from VHS and Betamax video cassettes to digital format.

From the first entry in the RL Cares Archive, the 1963 Challenge Cup final between Wakefield Trinity and Wigan, there are now close to 1,000 games, TV programmes and other films within the charity’s collection.

The digitisation process is continuing with the focus now on completing the conversion of hundreds of VHS tapes from the collection of Andrew Cudbertson – one of the founders of Student Rugby League at Leeds University in the 1960s, who was added to the RFL Roll of Honour in 2012 - who has donated recordings of more than 2,000 games to RL Cares. 

The charity also has hundreds of VHS tapes to convert from the sport’s existing collections at Heritage Quay within the University of Huddersfield, where members of the public will eventually be able to access the digital files once they have been fully catalogued and securely stored. 

RL Cares Communications Manager John Ledger is leading the digitisation project and is posting a game from the expanding archive onto the charity’s Facebook page at 3pm every day.

“I said last year when we passed half a million views that it seemed an incredible figure,” John explained. 

“So I’m not sure what to say about four million. It’s wonderful for all of us at RL Cares to know that the material we are making available is appreciated, and hopefully helping in a small way during such a difficult period.

“We’ve been able to share matches with both Scotland and Ireland Rugby League, the French Federation and BARLA that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

“We try to feature as many different clubs as we can on our daily posts: this week’s matches have included Trafford Borough, Barrow, Whitehaven, Wigan, Castleford, Great Britain and France.

“It’s a very labour-intensive process. The videos have to be played onto a hard drive in real time, then digitally processed by cropping out any faulty sections and enhancing the audio and video before being stored and catalogued. 

“Video tapes corrode over time so it’s important we move as fast as we can to preserve the footage so we can share with Rugby League fans who clearly have a fantastic level of interest in the sport’s past. 

“As the charity continues to work towards the opening of the first ever National Rugby League Museum at the historic George Hotel in Huddersfield, it’s wonderful to see such passion for the game’s great heritage.”

All the archive videos posted since the first lockdown 12 months ago are still available to watch on the RL Cares Facebook page here.

If you would like to support the work of RL Cares, please sign up to the charity’s weekly lottery, Care4Cares: for just £1 a week you could win a weekly top prize of £1,000 plus other cash prizes, as well as be entered into monthly draws to win exclusive RL Lions Association apparel from Ellis Rugby.

If you have any VHS tapes featuring historically significant footage and would like to donate the tape to Rugby League Cares so they can be added to the growing database, please email info@rlcares.org.uk.