I DON’T have to run far to get out of breath. On Monday night I was exhausted just from watching Wigan’s game against Warrington!
It was a terrific contest, played at pace by two teams showing great spirit and skill.
Wigan lost, but the overriding emotion was one of pride rather than satisfaction, because Shaun Wane’s team was missing nine first-team players.
Warrington, by contrast, boasted a near full-strength side and it was impossible not to wonder how different it may have been if the likes of O’Loughlin, McIlorum, Green and Flower had played.
I hope we find out. Because these two derby rivals have yet to meet in a final in years – let’s hope fate throws up such a mouth-watering prospect.
The RFL is pressing ahead with its radical plan to shake-up the league system from 2015.
The original idea has been amended, but still they want a 12-team Super League which will break away into a top-eight after 23-rounds.
Then, the bottom four – as well as the top four of the division below – will form a middle tier, with places in the following year’s ‘starting’ division up for grabs. It still sounds more confusing than the regular ‘one-up, one-down’ system used by many other sports.
But my biggest complaint about the current 14-team league isn’t the absence of relegation but the generosity of the play-offs, which allows a team in eighth – which has lost more than its won – the chance to battle for a title.
Leeds have shown in the last two years, when they have been crowned champions from fifth, that the play-offs format doesn’t offer enough incentives to the teams finishing on top.
It’s easy to knock Super League. Too easy at times. So let me give a little credit where it’s due to the state of the competition. London managed to recruit Jamie Soward, despite their on-field woes; Sky Sports was treated to two televised treats;
Castleford and Widnes pulled off surprise wins.
Huddersfield beat Leeds for a third time this year; and the best attendance of the round was found in the exotic setting of Toulouse, where nearly 15,000 turned out to see Catalan’s ‘on the road’ game against Hull KR!
If that wasn’t enough, the competition received a glowing endorsement on Twitter from footballer Joey Barton last night: “What an advert for Super League this is. Best sport to watch on telly bar none.”
Justin Rose started it, winning the US Open golf, and now we can look forward to a great sporting summer. The Lions are seeking a Test series against the Aussies, Andy Murray is about to raise our hopes at Wimbledon and then we have the cricket Ashes. We saw last year how sporting success can lift the whole mood of a nation, and let’s hope it happens again.
Congratulations to all the Wigan Harriers who enjoyed success last weekend, and to Harry Coppell, who will fly the GB flag at the World Youth Championships.