Talking Rugby: Excitement surrounds Challenge Cup week for Wigan Warriors
Everyone from the town knows how special this competition is, and the historic prestige the club has.
A few players have mentioned this week how they have fond memories of watching it growing up on the BBC, with the majority of fans probably sharing similar experiences.
It’ll be no easy test against Salford, and both clubs will be trying hard not to think too far ahead, but it’s hard not to.
Even though the final isn’t being held at Wembley this year, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will still be quite a trip.
A criticism of the Challenge Cup is how late the Super League teams enter the competition.
The most interesting ties this weekend will be the ones featuring Championship teams.
Even if there is a huge gulf in difference between the teams, it would still be great to have more ties where there is a chance of an upset.
Elsewhere, it’s been a shame that the overarching conversation since last week’s game against Castleford has been another questionable officiating decision.
Mahe Fonua’s yellow card was probably the harshest of the campaign so far, and there have been a few.
There needs to be some common sense applied to these situations.
By precise definition, it was a late hit on Jai Field, but surely context should be taken into account.
There was a split second between the Wigan fullback releasing the ball and the contact taking place.
Fonua would have needed to completely vanish to avoid the collision.
Field would’ve been completely prepared for the hit and there didn’t seem to be any complaints from Wigan during the moment.
The general feel around the stadium was seemingly one of confusion.
Certainly in the press box it was unclear at the time what the offence was.
The sentiment of the new rules are certainly spot on and shouldn’t be dismissed, as further protection for the players was required.
The risks of concussions and the further problems it can cause down the line are well documented.
Rugby needs to evolve in order to safeguard those who are playing, but nor should it be stripped away piece by piece.
Lee Radford has said he doesn’t recognise the sport any more due to the changes that have been brought in.
Rugby is still a contact sport, incidents are going to happen, and they will lead to penalties.
That is just a natural part of any sport, but not every incident that isn’t in line with the rules needs to have a punishment.
The aforementioned use of common sense needs to be implemented to stop this problem.
Each incident isn’t going to be black and white, there’s going to be numerous factors to take into account.
Matty Peet raised a good point in his press conference, how will the game be officiated at the Rugby League World Cup at the end of this year?
Will we follow the rules used in Super League or the NRL?
While the alterations in the rules can be justified, they have gone too far, especially when they should've been aligned with the Southern Hemisphere ahead of such a big tournament.
We are either going to see a lot of players booked or those who play in England maybe being a bit too reluctant when going in for a tackle.
This will certainly have to be addressed with plenty of time to spare ahead of the Autumn.
Another incident that has got people talking this week, is Will Pryce’s 10 match ban.
First things first, it wasn’t a great tackle and certainly does merit a ban, but such a lengthy one seems extreme.
It was a reckless effort from the Huddersfield man, and more than worthy of the red card he received.
A ban was always coming his way, and going off other cases this year, it was always going to be harsh.
On social media, Pryce said: “Now everything’s done with the ban I’m just glad to see Connor Wynne is well and doing okay after. The tackle wasn’t intentional but could’ve ended a lot worse so the main thing is he’s safe and well after it.
“Time for me to go and learn my lesson and work on myself for 10 weeks.”
Away from sin bins and suspensions, Leeds Rhinos have relieved Richard Agar of his coaching duties this week.
It’s a real shame things haven’t worked out for him at the start of this season.
Heading into the campaign there was a lot of positivity and things looked bright at Headingley, but it’s not been a smooth ride.
They were unlucky to lose their first game of the season against Warrington Wolves, as they put in a plucky performance with 12-men for the majority of the game.
Since then they’ve only been able to claim one win in their opening six matches.
While it hasn’t worked out for Agar, he should be praised for pushing Leeds back in the right direction.
He’s made it a much more positive place since his arrival, and even helped to deliver the Challenge Cup a couple of years ago.
Even though he’s been unable to bring back their glory days, he’s certainly laid strong foundations for the next person to come in and do exactly that.
Who that coach will be is yet to be seen.