This was an event which brought an apparently new audience to the Humber Mouth. I think its the first time there has been a sports writing event and it was good to see a strong turnout. Rugby League player Garry Schofield spoke for over an hour with BBC Radio Humberside presenter Steve Massam and took questions from the audience.
Concentrating broadly on two themes - the state of the game, and his own career - Schofield was able to discuss Rugby League on a local, national and international level. Lamenting the lack of opportunities for developing local talent, Schofield expressed regret about the difficulties facing retired players who wish to contribute training skills to clubs around the country. He recalled his own experience of being turned away on the grounds of not having 'NVQ Level 3', in spite of his international career. He also discussed with the audience the issue of players from other countries - particularly Australian players - joining British teams, and whether they could have the same kind of loyalty that local talent might have. This raised the issue that teams and supporters are increasingly required to find pride in their club's buying power, rather than developing any interest in individual players.
When questioned about racism in the sport, Schofield stated the belief that there was no problem within rugby. When questioned more closely, he rather disingenuously dismissed the idea of 'unconscious racism', thereby undercutting his own argument.
Schofield was not an experienced 'performer' on the writing circuit, but he generally presented his views with seriousness and good humour. It was interesting also to meet Paul Chancellor, the ghostwriter of Schofield's book 'Tries the Limit'. After the event he gave some insight into the process of producing and placing the book; the difficulties of dealing with publishers and promoters for the first time. It would have been good to have Chancellor on stage to describe this aspect of Schofield's post-rugby career.