Talking rugby: It’s fitting that Wigan will feature in the Challenge Cup final in their 150th year

It seems really fitting that Wigan Warriors will feature in a Challenge Cup final in the same year they are celebrating their 150th anniversary.

By Amos Wynn
Sunday, 15th May 2022, 4:55 am

The club booked its place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 28 with a victory over St Helens.

They will face Thursday night’s opponents Huddersfield Giants for the chance to lift some silverware.

Of course, any win over Saints feels special, especially when they’ve been so hard to come by, but to do it in a semi-final was sensational.

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Wigan Warriors celebrate at Elland Road

They showed class, determination and spirit throughout the 80 minutes.

To see them take a dominant half time lead was really pleasing, but for them to have the character to come from behind in the second says a lot about this team.

There’s a lot of fighting spirit and they all seem willing to put in a shift for each other.

It just feels right to have Wigan back in the final of the Challenge Cup.

While it may not be at Wembley, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be a stunning day out.

The showpiece occasion in 2002 isn’t spoken about any less fondly because it was held at Murrayfield.

Despite this, one noticeable but minor downside is, “We’re going to Spurs” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as if it was Wembley, but that’s just being picky.

To say that Wigan as a club is so heavily associated with the competition, it feels wrong how few finals they’ve been in during recent times.

Of course, the dominance of the 80s and 90s will most likely never be replicated by anyone ever again.

It’s rare in all of sport that one side can be so continuously successful year after year in one cup.

With all of that history, it’s no wonder the Challenge Cup is so special to the fans who lived through it.

For those of us who weren’t alive for that period, there’s not been as much success in the competition but there have still been highlights to give us a taste of what it means.

While for many of the older supporters the Martin Offiah try is the iconic moment; for the younger generation we had Joel Tomkins’ in 2011, which was equally as brilliant.

In these moments you can appreciate why it is such a loved competition.

It won’t just be Wigan and Huddersfield in North London on May 26, as Leigh Centurions are in action against Featherstone Rovers 1895 Cup.

It’s great to see another club from the borough, led by a former Warriors coach, also earning themselves a big day out.

The concept of the 1895 Cup is superb, as it’s always great for the clubs outside of Super League to be given these big days out.

It’ll be a fantastic day for all of the fans who make their way down to the event at Tottenham, but should rugby league still be having these days in London?

No doubt everyone who has a ticket will be excited to see what looks like a fantastic stadium and witness what should be two solid games, but it doesn’t come cheaply.

This isn’t a dig at the rugby authorities, as the occasion is a fantastic prospect, but it’s simply shocking how much it could cost people to get there.

As anyone who has travelled to the capital knows, train fares are ridiculously priced, and staying over might not be an option for some.

Driving is an alternative, but we all know that fuel prices aren’t great.

Fan coaches are probably going to be the best way of getting there, and will probably provide the best experience, especially for the winning side.

Once again, it’s great that the final is being held at Spurs while Wembley is unavailable and it’s very hard to say that there’d be a better alternative stadium wise.

At least one positive is trains are running, unlike for the FA Cup semi-final a few weeks, where two northern teams had to stupidly trek down to London despite the travel difficulties for the people who should matter most.

Moving back onto the focus on the pitch, and while we are approaching the mid-way stage of the season, it’s a good time to discuss who’s been the standout player so far

Jai Field is the man who has claimed all of the headlines this year, and he’s been truly exceptional.

Not many would’ve tipped him to have this sort of campaign, but he’s been flying.

He has that special ability to win his team the game, which is invaluable to any side.

Liam Farrell is another player who has been crucial this campaign.

He just seems to get better and better with age, combining his natural ability and class with years of experience.

It seems like teams can sometimes forget exactly what he’s got in his locker when they get too preoccupied dealing with Field and Bevan French.

Farrell is also a great leader, and will no doubt one day be added to the clubs hall of fame.

Finally, another experienced player who always provides a big impact to the side is John Bateman.

He’s probably been so consistent that his excellent work isn’t highlighted enough.

The 28-year-old helps to make the team tick, and organises the players around him.

Ultimately we could give praise to the entire squad for the improvements they have made this season.

Peet has instilled desire into them and it’s fantastic to see.