Friday, 22 February 2019

Does RL Deal Properly With Thugs?

I played the game and certainly enjoyed the physicality of it, as long as it was withing the rules. Wanting to hurt opponents isn't sportsmanship. Late hits, swinging arms and the like have no place in the game. Someone forgot to tell Robert Hicks, the UK match official for the Wigan (UK) and Syndey Roosters (NRL) World Club Challenge.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves from the Roosters decided to hit a player late and then immediately went hunting for another player on the ground to try connect with a swinging arm, just in case anyone thought the first thuggish act gave him pause for regret.

The official should have at least sent him to the sin bin but chose not to. Perhaps he didn't want to be seen as favouring the home side. True, the perpertrator may have a case to answer later but the closer punishment is handed out to the offence, the more impact it has. The wishy washy option of putting everything on report is breathtaking in its ineptness. Foul play can be cited later regardless, so it is unnecessary. It allows a thug to stay on the field when he should be cooling down off the field.

There is another player in the same Roosters team who seems to have the knack of seriously injuring opponents, Dylan Napa. A coach has a responsibility to reign in aggression that goes beyond the rules and risks injuries that could have repercussions to that person's health, be it short or long term. On that issue coach Trent Robinson has failed miserably.

So while the sport is as disinterested in coming down hard on thuggish behaviour on the field, I will be taking less of an interest in the sport of RL. It won't disappear off the radar but will be of less concern to me. I cannot support a game that doesn't properly protect the victims of serous foul play.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

ARL (Auckland) Grand Final : 2018

I watched the ARL grand final on the weekend between the Glenora Bears and the Pt Chevalier Pirates (rather late repeat showing). I haven’t kept up with the Auckland competition in recent years.

It was played on a wet surface so ball handling was always going to be an issue and plenty of ball was spilled. The fans were keen although not a huge crowd at Mt Smart #2 ground.

What struck me was how different it was from when I was a lad. Back yonder, there were big players and there were small ones, with some in between. In this match, they all seemed huge. It was like sumo wrestling meets RL. They smacked into each other all game with gusto but conditions and perhaps the size of the players meant going through the defence was the only tactic used. It seemed like there were too many players on the pitch.

In the end it was 6-0 but probably should have been 0-0. I can’t say the game was exciting but at least absorbing due to the close scoreline. I thought how a person like me and probably 98% of the population would never make it in Auckland RL now as being of a huge frame with copious kilograms was a minimum requirement.

If RL in Auckland is to return to a game that many can aspire to playing, then something needs to be done. A 5 metre defensive line may reduce the impact of huge players hitting said line with speed. That and a few other tweaks would do the trick. As it is, the game I saw was too predictable in style and very limiting as to what body sizes could play.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

UK Season : 2019 / The teams (3 divisions)

The 2019 season is upon us and one round of both Super league and the Championship have already been played. The first round for League One will be February 17th. 37 teams make up the three divisions. Each list below has the placing the team achieved in 2018. A + means promoted and a - shows sides relegated.

Super League Championship League One

Castleford 3 Barrow 10 Coventry 11

Catalans 8 Batley 7 Doncaster 3

Huddersfield 5 Bradford + Hunslet 7

Hull FC 6 Dewsbury 9 Keighley 9

Hull KR 10 Featherstone 5 London Skolars 7

Leeds 9 Halifax 4 Newcastle 8

London Broncos  + Leigh 6 North Wales 10

Salford 11 Rochdale 12 Oldham 5

St Helens 1 Sheffield 8 West Wales 14

Wakefield 7 Swinton 11 Whitehaven 6

Warrington 4 Toronto 1 Workington 4

Wigan 2 Toulouse 3

Widnes -

York +

Super League: 12 sides again this season (hopefully more next year).  Wigan start with a -2 points for a minor salary cap breach. London arrived as the new side at the expense of Widnes. 

Championship: The number of teams in this competition is up two for 2019. London moved up and Widnes came down. York and Bradford were promoted to this division with no teams being relegated.  

League One: With York and Braford moving up and Hemel pulling out of League One, the number of sides went from 14 to 11. Keighley have been deducted 12 points for financial problems. That is now sorted with a new, committed owner. 

Summary: Each of these divisions brings something different and interesting for the RL fan. My personal favourite this year is the Championship, with a real tight battle at the top end in particular. It's going to be a great season.