Rugby League: Summer switch on the agenda

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THE GAME is to look seriously for the first time at the possibility of summer rugby. A three-man sub-committee of club chairmen in favour of the switch is to carry out a study into the feasibility of playing from March to October.

Chris Caisley, of Bradford Northern, a club which has long been in favour of the change, is to chair the inquiry. He will be joined by Gary Hetherington, of Sheffield Eagles, and Jim Quinn, of Oldham.

'They are people who are in favour of summer rugby, but they are going to analyse the positives and negatives,' David Howes, the Rugby League's public affairs executive, said.

'This would be a massive step and cannot be rushed. This is an attractive time to look at the theory of summer rugby; the question is whether the theory can be put into practice.'

Among the many aspects the sub-committee will have to consider is how a transition could be made, and the implications for future tours between the two hemispheres.

The game is set to claim one place in the sun, with plans to stage the latter rounds of a triangular European tournament this May in Spain.

The tournament, involving Huddersfield, Batley, two French clubs and two from the former Soviet Union, is to be played as a round-robin in France before moving to Barcelona for the semi- finals and final. A consortium in Barcelona is showing interest in the code, and it is hoped that the event could spark further developments there.

Paul Newlove, the Featherstone centre, has been cleared of breaking the League's by-laws by playing for his club on Sunday after being withdrawn from the Great Britain squad for the game in France on the same day. Newlove was declared unfit by the Great Britain medical staff on Thursday, rather than ruling himself out, and was free to play for Featherstone at Rochdale on Sunday when his groin injury improved.

Steve Watson, the new Great Britain team manager, flew back from France yesterday to investigate the incident in which Royce Simmons, the Hull coach, was allegedly punched by a fan after Sunday's match at Salford. Watson is also chairman of Hull, who were beaten 26-10 at The Willows.