2019 Review of the Year – Part 3 (Jul-Sep)

Joe Westerman hit the headlines for his extraordinary action of knocking a dislocated knee back in to place to carry on playing in a live Sky game, while the futures of Jackson Hastings and Tony Gigot continued to be speculated on.

George Burgess was handed a nine-match ban for eye gouging,

Castleford started to make their moves for 2020, signing Sosaia Feki, Derell Olpherts and George Griffin and handing a long-term deal to Liam Watts.

On the field, Salford suffered a defeat to Huddersfield that looked like denting their play-off hopes but Wigan closed in on the top three with a demolition of Hull KR.

The Warriors also confirmed Adrian Lam would remain as coach in 2020, as well as announcing the signing of Jackson Hastings, to replace George Williams, who would head to the NRL with Canberra.

Blake Austin was called up to the England Elite Performance squad, paving the way for his end of season Great Britain selection, and he was joined at the top of the Man of Steel leaderboard by Hastings.

The return of the reserves was confirmed by the RFL, who also revealed a loss of £327k in their annual accounts following the low Challenge Cup final crowd the previous year. Tony Adams was unveiled as the new RFL president, with Simon Johnson as interim chairman.

Veteran forwards Mark Minichiello and Ben Westwood announced their retirement plans.

Must read in July 2019

Can I have a rewind? Rugby league’s lost decade

Expansionist Blog: There is a French semi-pro league, you know

No World Cup matches to be held in Cumbria after stadium plans left in chaos

England women announced an end of season tour to Papua New Guinea, as details of the men’s Great Britain tour and Oceania Cup were revealed.

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook announced he would leave at the end of the season to take up the vacant position at Gold Coast Titans in the NRL.

His Saints side would wrap up the 2019 League Leaders Shield on August 3rd, after Warrington slipped to defeat in Catalans, a match that was marred by fighting in the stands. It was revealed that Jack Hughes played in that match with a ruptured testicle.

Warrington brought in Matty Smith on a short-term deal to cover for the injuries to Blake Austin and Kevin Brown, though he was ineligible to play in their Challenge Cup final win over St Helens.

That win for Warrington came after it had been announced the final in 2020 would be played in July. The 2019 final was a double-header with the inaugural 1895 Cup final, where Sheffield beat Widnes.

Toronto pulled a number of their TV games to reduce costs, but were linked with a move for rugby union star Danny Cipriani.

Toulouse announced a groundshare deal to move to the Stade Ernest Wallon, and tragedy struck after their game with Batley, as Bulldogs youngster Archie Bruce was found dead in his hotel room.

Must read in August 2019

Six star signings ready to rock Super League in 2020

How super Bennie Westwood saved Warrington

Six things rugby league should scrap

Leeds won their crucial relegation scrap against London to all-but secure their Super League survival – but the Broncos ensured it would go down to the final day with a stunning late win at Hull KR.

Ultimately, Danny Ward’s side would go down after succumbing to Wakefield on the final day.

Whitehaven secured promotion to the Championship as winners of League 1, and were later joined by Oldham, who shocked Newcastle in the play-off final.

In the Super League play-offs, Warrington bowed out at the first hurdle to Castleford. St Helens beat Wigan to reach the Grand Final, and Salford moved within 80 minutes of Old Trafford by beating the Tigers.

Swinton confirmed their controversial name change to Manchester Lions, only for it to be scrapped weeks later due to fan backlash, resulting in the resignation of the board of directors.

Leeds announced the appointment of Richard Agar on a full-time basis

Must read in September 2019

Quiz: Can you name the 22 clubs that have played in Super League?

Throwback Thursday: Happy 14th Birthday to Love Rugby League

2019 Championship attendances up 31%, as 12 clubs report increases

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