Sports letters: Unfair on League players

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The Independent Online
From Chris Belsom

Sir: There are still those in rugby union who find it difficult to accept the new relationship between rugby league and rugby union and it is clear from his writing that your correspondent, Chris Hewett, is one of them. His ungenerous and blinkered remark that it is one of the joys of the 1996 season for the "dyed in the wool union loyalists to see the rugby league imports struggling to come to terms with the so-called softies' game'' (Tigers thrive on teamwork, 30 December).

Anyone who cannot give credit to the obvious talents and contributions of the likes of Robinson and Paul (Bath), Tuigamala (Wasps), Quinnell, Bateman (Richmond), Offiah (Bedford) and Jonathan Davies (Cardiff) cannot expect to have his opinion taken seriously.They have all adapted to the "softies'' game very quickly and deserve great credit. Sadly most of the players mentioned see so little of the ball, as play is still, to a large extent, determined by forward control.

The Bath/Wigan games (as well as the Middlesex Sevens) showed that the running, passing and handling skills are vastly superior in the league game which is more open and certainly faster. It is clearly in the parts of the game absent from league, and only these skills i.e. scrummaging, rucking and mauling, where union is superior. As far as tackling goes I think little needs to be said!

CHRIS BELSOM

Helmsley, York

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