Leeds happy to coexist with cricket

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RUGBY LEAGUE Leeds have cheerfully pledged themselves to make a roaring success of what they have frequently described as the impossible - running rugby league alongside cricket during the summer at Headingley.

Bitter opponents of summer rugby until they voted for the Super League package that necessitates it last Saturday, Leeds now plan to be the market leaders in making the most of the situation.

"Leeds are 100 per cent behind the Super League," the club's chief executive, Alf Davies, said. "We have argued for it for three years and we need it, because rugby league has stagnated. We had our reservations about summer rugby, but when it comes in 1996 Headingley will be ready, and ready in a very big way."

Davies said that talks had already opened with Yorkshire Cricket Club that would prevent any clashes. Leeds will turn their matches into day-long events for the family.

If Leeds intend to make themselves one of the winners from the upheavals, there was a different mood yesterday among those who regard themselves as potential losers. Keighley Cougars said that their legal advice is that the decision to exclude them from the Premier League and the eventual Super League would be reversed in court. "We want to avoid that and we hope common sense will prevail," the Second Division leaders' secretary, Jack Wainwright, said.

The Rugby League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, has hinted that there could still be a place for the Cougars, but the club are hostile to his suggestion of merger with Bradford Northern.

Hostility to mergers was also the theme at Wakefield and Featherstone, where the plan to amalgamate them with Castleford is to be put to a vote of members. The result of those votes is not difficult to predict. The proposed shotgun marriage between Warrington and Widnes has also come under fire. Warrington Council has sent an urgent fax to the League objecting to the merger.

Some of the question marks over the shape of next season have been removed with the announcement of the timetable for the game's two major knock- out competitions, both televised by the BBC. The Regal Trophy will run from November until its final on 13 January. The Silk Cut Challenge Cup will begin almost immediately afterwards, on 27 January, and will continue through the otherwise fallow period before the launch of the Super League next March.

The competition's Wembley final will be at the traditional time of year, although 27 April will be four weeks into the Super League era.

Meanwhile, on the side of the world where the Super League furore all blew up, the Australian Rugby League has switched tack by offering its clubs financial help for amalgamations. All indications are, however, that this move has come too late to save their competition from Murdoch's depredations.

The rugby union authorities in Australia and New Zealand are looking at ways of increasing players' earnings in order to try to fight off the Super League's attentions.