Rugby League [VIDEO] is forever presenting itself as a sport that is family-orientated in a bid to get the next generation interested. Clubs continuously try new initiatives to get the youngsters playing and watching the sport; Castleford's [VIDEO] "My Home Debut Experience", for example, allows new junior fans to take a look behind the scenes on match days and even walk out of the tunnel and around the pitch at half-time. Such children are the future of the game and, traditionally, a Sunday afternoon fixture is the perfect time to introduce potential life-long fans. Yet, the Super 8s fixtures - all of them - take place on either a Thursday or Friday night or a Saturday evening.

Sky holds the power

Clearly, those games shown on Sky on a Thursday or Friday night are written in stone due to the fact that Sky has an ever-strengthening monopoly on Rugby League. This is despite the sport being a poor relation to the likes of Football, Rugby Union and Formula 1. Catalans are scheduled to play every Saturday bar their away fixture at Wakefield - whether at home or away - due to travel so that explains the Saturday games.

Yet, even those fixtures not shown on Sky such as the Huddersfield v Hull FC match for this Friday night are still not being played on a Sunday afternoon. This is because of the lack of rest that those teams playing Sunday would have the week after if they were playing Thursday or Friday. It's no secret that if the same fixture was to be played on a Sunday, the crowd would be larger.

There is nothing stopping the fixture planners, however, from allowing those that play the Sunday to play the following Saturday so they get adequate rest. And, at least a Saturday evening is more conducive to families wanting to go watch rather than a Thursday or Friday night.

Work issues

Even though this is very unlikely to change anytime soon with Sky holding all the cards, Thursday night games need to be scrapped. The fact that clubs give their fans free travel to Thursday night away games shows that there is something fundamentally wrong with having fixtures on that particular day. Some may argue that there is nothing different than going to a football match on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night for cup and league football, but football is not a sport that prides itself on a family ethos.

For those families that want to take small children, a kick-off time of 7:45 pm is not exactly the best way to get youngsters involved - particularly on a Thursday night if the parents are working the day after.

Friday night isn't as bad as a Thursday because at least the weekend is near, but still, a Sunday afternoon is the perfect time for all the family to enjoy a day out at the rugby.

It's what most fans want

Speak to the overwhelming majority of fans and they would say that Sunday afternoon - either a 3 pm or 3:30 pm kick-off - is the day that they would most like to watch a game of Rugby League. Yes, the likes of Hull FC and Wigan now traditionally have their games on a Friday night, but there is no reason why their away fixtures could not be held on Sundays.

Two Castleford home fixtures were played back-to-back earlier on in the season - one against Hull KR and one against Wigan. Both clubs traveled well, although the Robins brought more. The Hull KR fixture was played on a Sunday in front of just over 9,000 fans, whilst the Wigan game was held on a Friday night in front of 7,700.

Hull KR probably brought around 500 more fans than Wigan, meaning that there were 800 less Castleford Tigers supporters from one week to the next. The Wigan game wasn't even on Sky so nearly a thousand fewer home spectators failed to turn up because of the choice of the day. Plus, playing Wigan at home is arguably more important than hosting Hull KR, so one would have expected the crowd to be larger, not over 1,300 less.

Coming to a crossroads

The Super League and RFL need to pay attention to the fans; gates are already declining and have been doing so across the board in recent years. A problem highlighted by new Super League Chief Executive Rob Elstone as soon as he took the position was the need to reconnect with old and new fans, well, one reason why such supporters are being pushed away is down to the fact that games are becoming increasingly inaccessible.

Yet, Elstone is stuck in a quandary; Sky controls the sport and Thursday night games appear to be here to stay. However, simultaneously, ordinary fans - the backbone of Rugby League - are being cast aside. It's only a matter of time before things come to a head.