Blog | The Eights are here

The eights are here (finally)!

For some the business end of the season started last week and there were some highly encouraging displays across League One with London Skolars resounding win at North Wales Crusaders, a win for Hemel Stags and South Wales getting their first win at Stebonheath Park.

On our recent chat show on LRL myself and James Gordon chatted about the plight of the South Wales club (shameless plug – there is a link to the show below and we discuss South Wales from around the 38 minute mark) so I was really pleased to see them pick up a victory, and fingers crossed that can now act as a springboard to better and brighter things.

Barrow Raiders also impressed in the breeze at Whitehaven. While their 15-2 win may not linger long in the memory, they overturned a 32-6 defeat last time out and most notably all game points were scored in the second half!

The big story from the Kingstone Press League One Super Eights and Shield last weekend was York City Knights excellent win over a previously rampant Toronto team. Well done to James Ford and his players for masterminding this result which for me breathes new life into the competition.

For me Ford is a very astute coach who has crammed more experiences into his time in charge at York than many coaches get in 5-10 years and I will be honest, I think he is a future Super League coach. I rate him highly.

Some may say it through gritted teeth but Toronto have been a shot in the arm for RL in that third tier. They have developed the brand and marketed one-sided games to a previously untapped public.

York did a lot of promotion of this fixture themselves and may have uncovered a blueprint for how to market themselves at this level. They shouted from the rooftops what was going on, they made it the must have ticket in town and are to be applauded for their efforts. A 2600 crowd is possibly up to four times their average.

Now comes the crux, can they show the same fever for the rest of their fixtures.

As a Rugby League fan first and foremost I have bleated for years about the game not pushing itself. I have been critical, and involved at my beloved Leigh Centurions and they have been much better at it this year in Super League but I’m a big believer in keep telling people about the product, keep getting the message out. It was highly successful for Keighley back in the mid 1990s when Cougar Park was the place to be for razzmatazz and something Bradford Bulls once did really well. Obviously it helps if you are winning but I would like to see far more cross promotion done of our sport, link it up, talk about it, picture it, film it, get it out there.

I am trying to do this with audio interviews at Leigh East and I am exploring things for Lancashire too so that the Tri Series in Autumn is well covered.

So much can be done on social media and here at LoveRugbyLeague we are looking at our output, so don’t be surprised if you see a lot more of James and I.

Talking about promoting the game and I was a little disappointed that there has been no media launch for the competition, although I can see why the RFL didn’t run one.

The last two media events have taken place during cup semi-final weeks and as a result it was another opportunity, other than last four themed events, for journalists to speak to the relevant clubs, so instead of talking the eights, they were talking about the cup.

I can’t help but think it was a missed chance by the RFL to have people discussing the sport. I’d love to read your comments on this topic.
Also this year we had to wait for fixtures to be confirmed for the Championship Shield. I wonder which club or clubs did not respond to the email in time forcing the fixture announcement to be postponed?

Looking at the opening couple of rounds I was disappointed to see none of the Lancashire based clubs at home this week and all three at home in week two. I wonder if this had anything to do with Rochdale FC, Sale RUFC or Stalybridge Celtic fixtures?

If it did I can understand and again would be pleased to read comments on this from any Oldham, Rochdale or Swinton fans.

Talking of Swinton, I’m delighted that their short term future has now been secured and they can concentrate on finishing the season on a high before taking stock in October.

There are some fine people involved at theclub, as there are up and down rugby league land, so I am delighted for the Riggs, Spellmans, and Wilds of that parish.

I am also pleased for Stuart Littler who was handed the coaching reigns a couple of weeks ago and presided over his first win at Odsal. For years he has been the ultimate professional, loved and respected at Salford, he was then an excellent ambassador for Leigh and latterly Rochdale and Swinton. Maybe the opportunity to coach at first team level has come earlier than he would have liked but knowing the honest, battling qualities of the man, I think it could prove to be a great appointment all round.

In the words of that great playwright William Shakespeare, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

It is a quote you could quite easily turn to rugby league.

I think we are in for a fascinating few weeks as the Super Eights, Qualifiers and Championship Shield roll into action.

Here are the fixtures:

SUPER 8S – BETFRED SUPER LEAGUE SUPER 8S
THURSDAY 3RD AUGUST 2017
Round: 1
Castleford Tigers v St Helens 20:00

FRIDAY 4TH AUGUST 2017

Huddersfield Giants v Wakefield Trinity 20:00
Hull FC v Salford Red Devils 20:00
Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors 20:00

SUPER 8S – THE QUALIFIERS
Round: 1
Widnes Vikings v Warrington Wolves 20:00

SATURDAY 5TH AUGUST 2017

Featherstone Rovers v Leigh Centurions 15:15
Catalans Dragons v London Broncos 18:15 LOCAL / 17:15 UK

SUNDAY 6TH AUGUST 2017

Hull Kingston Rovers v Halifax 15:00

 

SUPER 8S – KINGSTONE PRESS CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD
SUNDAY 6TH AUGUST 2017

Round: 1
Batley Bulldogs v Swinton Lions 15:00
Bradford Bulls v Toulouse Olympique 15:00
Dewsbury Rams v Rochdale Hornets 15:00
Sheffield Eagles v Oldham 15:00

 

SUPER 8S – KINGSTONE PRESS LEAGUE 1 SUPER 8S
SUNDAY 6TH AUGUST 2017

Round: 2
Barrow Raiders v Doncaster 15:00
Keighley Cougars v York City Knights 15:00
Whitehaven v Newcastle Thunder 15:00
Workington Town v Toronto Wolfpack 15:00

SUPER 8S – KINGSTONE PRESS LEAGUE 1 SHIELD
SATURDAY 5TH AUGUST 2017
Round: 2
University of Gloucestershire All Golds v North Wales Crusaders 15:00

SUNDAY 6TH AUGUST 2017

Oxford v Hunslet 14:00
Coventry Bears v Hemel Stags 15:00

 

LOVE RL TV | Dave Parkinson and James Gordon preview the Challenge Cup semi finals and the rugby league weekend live from the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Posted by Love Rugby League on Thursday, 27 July 2017

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