Dave Craven: RFL scored an own goal by allowing double-header weekend

Castleford's head coach Daryl Powell.
Castleford's head coach Daryl Powell.
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THERE are those who joke that the Rugby Football League’s top brass are essentially paid purposely to make as many bad decisions as possible to ruin the sport from within.

Think of them as enemy sleeper agents even, dispatched from the RFU perhaps to quietly set about causing as much mayhem as possible to ensure rugby league simply never flies as it should.

I am not one of those. Far from it. I do feel that many of the big decision-makers at the top of the governing body do have the sport’s best interests at heart and they genuinely think they are doing right with the way they lead.

There are plenty of examples of initiatives and ideas that have worked and you sense they are pulling together to make things work as best they can.

Of course, there will always be arguments about whether they are the right people to be in those roles and there have been instances where you would feel the power-brokers are on rocky ground and – if people truly wanted change – it would have happened.

Nevertheless, the RFL do find themselves sometimes making incredulous decisions that are purely mind-boggling.

It is rare to see Daryl Powell as incensed as he was this week when expressing his feelings over the whole saga of Huddersfield Giants and St Helens being able to have Monday off while everyone else slogged it out.

The Castleford Tigers coach doesn’t do hyperbole; when he speaks with such intent, he means every single word, much like Warrington counterpart Tony Smith, who was similarly dismissive of the RFL’s decision as his side prepare to face a refreshed Huddersfield tomorrow.

The governing body do claim to have player welfare issues at heart yet this season pushed through a second double-header weekend in order to incorporate an England training camp that never happened.

But therein lies the problem, they want it all; on the one hand fighting for a thriving domestic game yet making teams play too many games, while also trying to push the international sport yet only by inflicting damage on the domestic game as well.

They can’t have their cake and eat it. It surely has to be one or the other. If the RFL are serious about protecting players’ welfare then something has to give with Magic Weekend being the obvious casualty.

That, of course, is another aspect that makes the playing field uneven, randomly creating an extra fixture.

But, let’s not forget, it is a money-spinner for them, too.

Admittedly, in many instances, club CEOs do have their say on matters and can vote for or against.

But, this time, adding the extra double-header weekend to create space for that England camp that never happened was purely driven by the RFL.

Powell threatened to make a stance against them on this subject and is right to leave out four of his England players – including the three who flew out to Sydney to play in the mid-season Test last month – for tomorrow’s game against Saints.

Only he will know if he would have done that regardless or if it is to make a point.

But he should never have even found himself in that position; playing Friday/Monday last weekend just a few weeks after doing the same at Easter should never have even be discussed by the RFL let alone acted upon.

It should never happen again. But you can only hope, never fully know.