Boxing Day tradition a thing of the past

It’s a tradition that has been carried to the summer era, only in the shape of friendlies rather than the competition matches they were in the old days.

But Boxing Day games are quickly becoming a thing of the past, thanks to the good old British weather.

We’ve seen games announced, fans predicting likely postponements, and then finally having their disappointment confirmed while they are rushing around the shops getting those last few Christmas gifts.

Only Leigh, who’s superb facilities have been utilisied for the recent student and academy internationals, have managed to save their game over the Christmas period, against Salford on December 27th.

But for those hunting their rugby league fix at Castleford, Leeds, Widnes and beyond, they’ll have to wait just a bit longer before seeing their favourites on the hallowed turf once again.

But is this the end of the Boxing Day friendly?

Having only been watching rugby league for the past 15 years, I do not remember the winter era. So Boxing Day friendlies have always been something of a bizarre nature. They come six weeks plus until the start of the season, and are generally very early in terms of a club’s pre-season preparations.

I’ve always seen as games that have been forced upon clubs to appease the fans, not because they genuinely want to play the games to get their players up to fitness. I may be wrong.

But is it now time to give up on this old tradition?

Maybe it’s the end of multiple games, but perhaps Boxing Day could still be retained as a rugby league day by an exciting new idea, something mooted by rugby league legend Martin Offiah on Twitter this week.

A charity shield type match between the Super League champions and Challenge Cup winners on Boxing Day, which could be played at a suitable ground (Leigh of course, where else?!) and televised by, ideally, the BBC or failing that SKY and become something of a new tradition.

For those who want to brave the elements (what happened to global warming?!), there’s a quality match scheduled, even if both sides only put out some of their stars, and then for those at home spending time with the family, what better way to get over that Christmas Day food coma or hangover with some quality rugby league on the box?

Of course an alternative idea could be to move it back closer to the start of the season, say New Year’s Day, with proper pre-season friendlies starting the week after. But with the situation rugby league is in at the moment, it needs to start thinking outside the box if it is to generate the interest and passion that is required to take it to the next level.

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