Dewsbury Rams chairman Mark Sawyer was recently live on BBC radio Leeds talking to James Deighton about the current situation in the sport of rugby league.
Q-JD: How bad is it at your particular club right now?
Mark: “I am involved in a couple of clubs and it’s pretty desperate. However at the same time it’s pretty desperate everywhere in the world at the moment and we just have to dig deep and prove our worth in trying to keep the club’s going.
“We have to try and stay as positive as possible at the moment and show leadership right down the chain. It means a lot to people and it’s a big part of people’s lives is rugby league. You know over the past few days people have shown how much they really care about it.
“It really keeps you going seeing how people are trying to deal with adversity especially when dealing with rugby.
Q-JD-: When the rugby does come back do we just have to accept something will have changed, it won’t come back as before?
Mark: “Definitely something will change from many angles that will be for sure. What exactly will be the changes we don’t know. What the main thing is, is to offer support to all areas of clubs whether that’s to supporters, players or staff, as there are a lot of people very worried. We have to pull through this with as much confidence as possible but it’s so important that the sport survives.
“People don’t get involved in rugby league clubs to get a profit out of it. They get involved to see the matches but also to be involved with the people who love rugby league.
“It is a truly down to earth sport and it’s particularly been enjoyable for myself in running a club for 20 years.”
Q-JD: What have you been doing in the short term to lesson the impact?
Mark: “Well the main thing is to keep people informed. At the same time when there is an opportunity to make things better we have stepped in there. We have also tried to keep as positive as possible. There is a lot of fear out there, whether that’s talking to zero hour contract staff thinking how the hell am I going to keep going next week or just talking to supporters who are thinking is there going to be a club to support.
“I can assure anyone who supports Dewsbury, Bradford or any rugby league team for that matter. We are all out there working as hard as possible and looking at every option. What I would say is Ralph Rimmer is showing great leadership at the RFL. He was working this morning at a meeting, he is literally on the job working for 24 hours. He is laying down the importance of rugby league and it’s communities to the government, let’s just hope his message will get home there.
“With everyone’s hard work and support of everyone, there is a chance rugby league will survive. It’s got down to that point and it’s plain to see that it’s at a crossroads.”
Q-JD-: What is the worst case scenario?
Mark: “The worst case scenario is that people can’t keep the club’s going and the competition crashes around our ears. There is a lot of people who care about the sport and that’s the main thing. If people don’t bother about a sport then folk may think it’s been nice having rugby league but at the end of the day we can manage without it. Then there is no way to go but that isn’t the case.
“A lot of people have been in touch from both clubs. There is so many people who care about the sport it would be a tragedy if it didn’t get back on its feet but I am sure it will.”
Q-JD: Was anything decided at the meetings today?
Mark: “I have been in a few meetings today, one with the players union. They have got really involved and wanting to know what’s likely to happen. We said that we are doing everything we can to support players and staff that the union covers. That was extremely positive, and this has brought people together.
“Ralph is really proving his worth as our leader in rugby.”
Q-JD: Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
Mark: “No one knows how long it’s going to be with this virus about. There will be a lot of people who catch the virus at some point and our thoughts are with those families who have caught it. However I can see a light at the end of the tunnel because a lot of people care about rugby. There will be some changes, some for the better and some will be difficult. Especially for the businesses who rely on some commercial input into rugby league, it isn’t going to be easy but we can see light at the end of the tunnel at both Dewsbury and Bradford.”
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