Wigan Warriors- OPINION: Super League's Thursday night games need more thought and consideration for the fans
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It seems wrong that the Warriors face two Thursday night trips to Hull this month- with away games against FC and KR.
Like any sport, fans are a big part of making rugby league what it is.
They should be at the forefront of all decisions, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case.
When it comes to Thursday games, it seems like sometimes there is no consideration for the supporters.
It always seems pretty unreasonable to ask supporters from the North West to make the trip to Yorkshire, and vice-versa, when the majority of them will be at work early the next day.
Ideally, local games should be the predominant Thursday night fixtures- and of course these do take place, but not often enough.
Naturally, people are more likely to travel to lengthy away games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so why is this not facilitated.
Surely there is a better alternative than making Wigan fans travel to Hull on a Thursday night twice in four weeks.
It’s not unreasonable to play FC and KR away during that time, but the scheduling seems off.
If it was two Friday games in the same timeframe then it wouldn’t be a problem- over even just one Thursday game.
It just feels like a lot to ask Wigan supporters to make that trip twice in a month- especially if they are to be faced with any notorious motorway closures.
For the Warriors’ trip to Craven Park at the end of the month, Leigh face Warrington in the same round- so surely that is the ideal Thursday night game.
It’s all about picking the right fixtures, and it feels as if the sport doesn’t do that.
Thursday games are really important to Super League, as it’s a potential opportunity for the sport to take centre stage, but it’s wasted if the fans aren’t being considered.
Of course it all comes down to broadcast deals, and there are probably valid reasons why certain fixtures are picked, but surely it looks better on TV having more people in the stands.
Even home attendances can suffer on Thursday nights depending on what the fixture is.
This is not the Premier League, Super League clubs do not have fan bases that are big enough to pack out a mid-week game anywhere in the country.
Rugby league more than any other sport should be doing its best to facilitate the supporters, and make decisions that will get as many people as possible through the turnstiles.
Some long distance Thursday trips are to be expected, but better planning must be put into the place to encourage as many fans to attend as possible.
Elsewhere this weekend
Across the club, it’s another busy few days for the Warriors.
On Saturday, the club’s academy side is back in action as they take on Hull FC in East Yorkshire (K.O. 12pm).
It’s been a mostly positive start for the youngsters, with three wins and one defeat in their opening four games.
Last time out they produced a 34-18 victory over Wakefield Trinity at Robin Park Arena, as they bounced back from a loss to St Helens.
Meanwhile, Hull FC’s academy have made a strong start to the year, and sit top of the table with an unbeaten record.
Elsewhere, Wigan’s women are in action on Sunday as they travel to the Millennium Stadium to take on Featherstone Rovers in their second outing in the group stages of the Challenge Cup (K.O. 12pm).
Ahead of the international break they produced a 38-20 victory away to Cardiff Demons.
Mary Coleman and Kaitlin Hilton both went over for braces, while Molly Jones, Anna Davies, Beri Salhi and Grace Banks were on the scoresheet as well.
This followed their 22-22 against Warrington Wolves in their opening Super League game of the year.
Following this weekend’s trip to Featherstone, they round off the Challenge Cup group stages with a home game against Salford Red Devils at Robin Park Arena on May 21.
This year’s competition has an extra edge to it, with the final taking place at Wembley.
The fixture will form part of a triple-header alongside the conclusion of the men’s Challenge Cup and the 1895 Cup.
This will certainly be a big thing for the players, with Wigan captain Rachel Thompson stating: “Everyone dreams of playing at Wembley.
“To have the Women’s Challenge Cup there is massive for the game.
“If we could get onto that stage, to represent Wigan would be a dream come true.
“We can do it, we can win, but we’ve just got to believe in ourselves.
“That’s what dreams are made of.”
Thompson’s support of the Warriors dates back to well before her playing days- making her role at the club even more special.
“I’ve been a season ticket-holder for as long as I can remember,” she added.
“I’ve always been a massive Wigan fan.
“It’s in the blood and it’s in the family- it is infectious.
“To get to represent the club and wear the shirt has always been a massive honour.
“To captain the team is something that makes me mega proud.
“I’ve not been able to do it too much due to injury, so I’m really excited to get back out there and lead from the front.
“The girls were constantly building last year and getting better each week.
“We’ve brought in some talented players, so it’s about building them up- just to see where they can go.
“There’s no reason why we can’t compete with the top teams.”