JUDITH Cummins, the MP for Bradford South who is also Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rugby League, has given high praise to those in the sport who have put in an unbelievable effort during the coronavirus pandemic.

These difficult past 10 months have been documented alongside The Rugby League Dividend Report, which was commissioned from the Sport Policy Unit of Manchester Metropolitan University by the RFL in 2018-19.

This was done during Andy Burnham’s term as RFL President, to investigate and measure the social and economic impact of rugby league in England.

It concluded that the sport delivers an annual social impact worth more than £185million to the country, with every £1 spent by Community Clubs and Foundations generating a social return of £4.08.

This is in addition to the annual economic impact of the sport of over £141m.

The unique challenges of 2020-21 provided further tangible evidence that “rugby league is more than a sport” and reflecting on the past year, Mrs Cummins wrote: “2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year for the whole country and the impact of coronavirus has hit hardest in areas of socio-economic disadvantage.

“That is why the selfless efforts of rugby league clubs, including many players, staff, volunteers, charities and individual supporters should be recognised for the impact they have had and continue to have in supporting our communities through lockdowns and restrictions.

“They have often been the glue keeping communities together. They have certainly helped many thousands of people to get through, whether by delivering food and medicine, or offering a friendly face and listening ear, and keeping people active and lifting spirits.

“The All-Party Group of Parliamentarians works to champion the sport and its unique place in the national sporting and social landscape – the measurable difference or dividend that rugby league delivers in our communities.

“This has never been more evident than during 2020.”

People needed valuable support when the country went into lockdown last March and the updated report presents examples of how rugby league swung into action.

Mrs Cummins added: “Many rugby league people should be extremely proud of what they have done to support their neighbours and local community.

“It is vital and often unsung work which has been essential and will help our communities and the country recover as we look to a better 2021, the return of the sport at all levels, and the national tonic of a home World Cup.

“On behalf of the All-Party Group, to everyone in rugby league who has demonstrated the values of the sport throughout this period, our recognition and our heartfelt thanks.”