Betts: stop playing on Sundays to help with turnaround

Rugby League

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The Independent Online

The Widnes coach, Denis Betts, has suggested ditching Sundays as a regular match day for Super League in order to avoid the short turnarounds for Thursday games.

Sky Sports switched live coverage of its second match from Saturdays two years ago but the Thursday night fixtures come around at more frequent intervals for teams this season following the reduction of clubs in the top flight from 14 to 12.

Several clubs have risked the wrath of fans by rescheduling matches at comparatively short notice to space out the games but Widnes have had just three days to prepare for today’s trip to Salford after playing Hull KR last Sunday.

“It’s just too hard for some teams,” former Wigan and Great Britain forward Betts said yesterday. “It’s not the same as it was five years ago, never mind 10, and to ask a team with a smaller squad to turn around after such a brutal encounter – with possibly one training day and two recovery days – is pretty tough.

“We’ve got to look at the league and the structure if our main sponsors and the people driving our sport want Thursday and Friday games to be on TV. Saturdays have worked for a few teams so if you look at Thursday, Friday and Saturday as being rugby league days, you are still going to get enough turnaround to be able to recover.

“Games used to be played on Saturdays for a lot of the years and then they moved to Sundays. So it’s not as if it’s always been Sundays.

“You’ve got to go with something, stick with it and let people buy into it. Some people didn’t think Friday nights would work, but some of the Friday night games are some of the best to watch.”

Betts will be without six of his first-choice players for the Salford game through injury, including his captain, Kevin Brown.