Yates' view: Prince's involvement in RL World Cup draw gave sport the exposure it deserves

The draw for the Rugby League World Cup at Buckingham Palace led by HRH The Duke of Sussex with Katherine Grainger and Jason Robinson. Picture: SWPix
The draw for the Rugby League World Cup at Buckingham Palace led by HRH The Duke of Sussex with Katherine Grainger and Jason Robinson. Picture: SWPix

A Royal constitutional crisis has led to Rugby League receiving arguably the greatest piece of world-wide publicity in its history which dates back to 1895.


Only eight days after dropping a bombshell that he and his wife, Meghan, wanted to step out of the limelight - leading to hundreds of inches in the Press columns of national newspapers - Prince Harry took centre stage when helping to conduct the 2021 Rugby League World Cup draw at Buckingham Palace under the full gaze of a battery of TV cameras and journalists, hoping to latch on to his every word.

It was his first public engagement since he and Meghan announced plans to split their lives between the UK and Canada but, not surprisingly, no mention was made of the wall-to-wall media coverage - and the differing views of the British public - on their far-reaching decision.

However, the last thing the RL World Cup organisers would really have wanted was to 'cash-in' publicity-wise on the Royal Family's troubles which only surfaced long after Harry had accepted the invitation to help make the draw.

Having said that, the draw and plans revealed to adopt a mental fitness charter, including workshops for 8,000 young people, have given the sport the kind of exposure it fully deserves and the Royal seal of approval by the Queen's grandson is another plus sign.

Prince Harry, who is the patron of the Rugby Football League, said: "The perception in Rugby League is that you need to be tough.You can't show your feelings, you have to grin and bear it.

"But something like the mental fitness charter will help us make real progress in getting rid of the stigma associated with mental illness, and remind people that it's not just about being physically fit, but more importantly mentally strong.''

STILL on the World Cup, I was flabbergasted by the absence of any reference to the tournament in my edition of the Daily Mail on the morning of the draw.

I don't know who is responsible for deciding the sporting contents but to overlook a world wide event in the presence of Royalty is beyond belief.

I wasn't, however, totally surprised as the Mail coverage of Rugby League in general leaves a great deal to be desired.

Coverage of RL has never been the same since the national newspapers closed their Manchester outlets and moved lock, stock and barrel to Fleet Street.