Both Warriors and Latics fans reacted in droves last night to the news the rugby club’s Super League clash with Widnes Vikings has been postponed.
The match was due to take place at the DW Stadium less than 24 hours before Wigan Athletic’s vital championship clash with Nottingham Forest at the same venue.
But yesterday’s heavy rain led to the move to call off tonight’s rugby match, which has the knock-on effect of giving Shaun Wane’s men extra time to recover from their World Club Challenge exertions.
The news is coupled with recent concerns raised about the state of the pitch.
Warriors’ chairman Ian Lenagan broke the news in a club statement.
Concerns about the pitch had already been raised by Latics boss Warren Joyce following his side’s 2-2 draw with Norwich City on February 7.
He said at the time: “Even Barcelona would struggle on that. It does make it more difficult, you can’t play slick one-twos on it.”
And striker Will Grigg criticised the pitch this week.
He told Wigan Today: “I’m not going to promise and say the next three months are going to be pretty or whatever because the pitch isn’t great at the DW.”
But such criticism at this time of year is nothing new, and will cause fans to question why a Warriors game was scheduled the day before a football match at the same venue in the first place.
There are two more instances where the clubs will play at the DW on the same weekend this year: April 14 and May 5.
The surface was relaid 12 months ago after torrential rain damaged the surface. And in February 2015 then Latics boss Malky Mackay said: “Unfortunately it’s coming up in lumps in parts, and you see the effects week in, week out with the ball bouncing over a player’s foot.
“Now the rugby’s started, I don’t think the situation is going to get any better.”
Go back further and Roberto Martinez criticised the pitch in February 2011 after a win over Blackburn, saying: “We need a good pitch – it does not matter who we are playing against.”
And a year later he defended the pitch after Aston Villa’s Darren Bent ruptured ligaments in his ankle. The month? February.
The pitch was also relaid in February 2010.
But last night’s didn’t sit well with Widnes, and the Vikings released a statement of their own saying they were not consulted on the call to move the match.
Vikings CEO James Rule said Widnes found out just half an hour before Warriors’ statement was made public.
He said: “At 6.30pm, I received a call from Kris Radlinski who informed me that Wigan Athletic and Ian Lenagan had agreed to the postponement of our fixture, due to the condition of their pitch and the importance of Wigan Athletic’s upcoming fixture.”
Many fans would have felt Widnes could have caught Wigan cold after their bruising World Club Challenge win from which they will now have another week to recover.
The game had also been due to be aired on Sky Sports, and now Sky Sports 2 will show Warrington’s home clash with Castleford, which kicks off at 8pm.
Latics kick-off against Nottingham Forest at 3pm tomorrow.
After news of the Warriors versus Widnes game’s postponement broke at 7pm last night, here’s what fans had to say:
David Birchall If the pitch is not playable tomorrow night surely it won’t be playable on Saturday ? Both games should be called off ! And I don’t follow any of them
Simon Brown It’s silly putting 2 home fixtures so close together in the first place as it’s the same storey every year and I feel for the rugby lot who have paid for tickets and made plans to be told games not going ahead
Rob Lord Dont see what the problem is. Get afew more days rest after the world club game!
Paul ‘Curly’ Curless I guess it’s only fair. Latics don’t do much running about so are less likely to turf it up, and spend most of the time in one half.
Jay Woodward Health and safety has to come first
Anthony Smith Discusting no excuse to call game off
Teresa Bailey Unbeliveable
Linda Almond Absolutely pathetic wouldn’t mind if lactics were any good
Amelia Turner I’m happy with that bet players would’ve still been rough from last week anyway
Kevin Taylor @WiganWarriorsRL disgusting. Bullied by a football club. You should forfeit the pionts.
David Foster @WiganWarriorsRL no apology to Widnes fans? Pretty poor that
Nick Clarke Why is it, of all the football and rugby ground shares, it’s only @WiganWarriorsRL who lose out in their arrangements with @LaticsOfficial ?
Mark F Don’t @LaticsOfficial @WiganWarriorsRL own covers to protect pitch against rainfall?
Yonmon @PWilkinsonWIG @WidnesRL @WiganWarriorsRL I hope the rfl fine us. We have only ourselves to blame for putting ourselves in this position
David Garswood I read it and as a Latics fan, I would like to say thank you to Ian Leneghan for Co operating and agreeing to this, in order to give us a better pitch surface on Saturday. Cheers.