Build it they will come

I finally saw a picture of Salford’s new ground this week, it doesn’t look too bad. Saints ground is also springing up nicely – it seems most people are pulling their fingers out and finally getting their stadia sorted – as they damn well should be.

I mean if you made promises towards building a ground 3 years ago you should surely have it sorted by now shouldn’t you? Not wheel out more excuses as you fail to adhere to a rule that was written into Super League many moons ago. Imagine if all the nations turned up for the London Olympics next year and Seb Coe had to stand up and say “Hey guys, look we had a problem with Tesco buying some land, and then a planning permission issue with the council, and maybe the plan we set out for funding when we submitted our application wasn’t quite what it we said it was, so basically we’re short a bit. But don’t worry there’s a leisure centre with a pool in Croydon that we can use and I’ve found a school with a running track for the athletics.” – Wouldn’t go down well would it? Still the RFL are a bit more forgiving than the Olympic committee would be I guess.

I’m not sure if I agree so much with the stadium criteria being strictly adhered to but it does certainly have a a good aim and it is a rule that is there and many other clubs have stuck to it. Part of the problem has been the way it favours teams who were already in the Super League – if they didn’t face relegation they were fine. It was a barrier only for new teams coming up from the Championship, and one that was applied to them. Which is where licensing should have sorted it out and 3 years on we’re in a situation where some people haven’t even moved an inch forward on their previous plans.

But back to Salford and until I saw the work in progress picture I wasn’t quite sure where their new ground was actually going to be, and well I do have a concern. For those unfamiliar with the site it’s right near the Trafford Centre, great if the wife doesn’t like Rugby League, you can take her to Selfridges and say “Oh sorry love I left my phone in the car” and sneak off and go and watch the match. She’ll be so busy looking at all the new clothes she won’t even notice you’ve been gone for 2 hours.
It’s near Barton aerodrome, I’ve seen some of the people flying there and I’d be a little worried, maybe there will be plenty of banner towing and sky writing on match days?
It’s also round the corner from MediaCityUK and right near the motorway, great – although a little problematic if Salford have matches and there’s a sale on at the Trafford Centre, that bit of road can get busy. But if you look at the picture (borrowed from the Salford website) you may just be able to see something on the other side of the fly over there – it’s a sewage works – and believe me I’ve driven past it before and it can smell a bit. So my big concern is that there could well be a stink if the wind is blowing the wrong direction – I certainly hope not.

It’s good for your health

You may also have read/watched the news this week and there’s been a study that has concluded watching an hour of TV could shorten your life expectancy by 22 minutes. So (as pointed out in an article today) watching all 3 hours of coverage of Arsenal last night would have shortened your life by 1 hour and 6 minutes. Sadly rugby league doesn’t get that kind of build up, in fact Saturday’s televised game from Wakefield get’s a full 5 minutes of build up coverage – so not only is watching Rugby League obviously more enjoyable than watching football it’s now better for your health.

Take a bite out of that

The obvious draw back of that study is failing to take into account that people who watch lots of TV are often fat lazy people who drink full fat coke and eat pizza constantly. So the whole study comes across as drawing tedious conclusions from slightly related, coincidental data. That said we have recently had two bans for biting – the second handed out this week to Elliot Whitehead of Bradford. Biting is a strange thing to do on a rugby pitch – I can understand getting banned for a lazy high tackle or a bit of chicken winging whilst using a wrestling technique – but biting? There’s a kind of vicious, unnecessary feeling about it. So as it’s a week of tedious conclusions I’ve also noted that these incidents occurred around the time of the Super League licensing announcement and therefore I’ve drawn the conclusion that licensing makes players bite other players and therefore is dangerous and is as good an argument as any to go back to promotion and relegation. I shall be looking back at the previous Super League announcement and also keep track of disciplinary incidents around future press events.

This weeks predictions

On the pitch though it’s business time, no not Wednesday, but that time of year where the play off positions start to shake up. Whilst the top 8 looks to be between 9 teams there is still a bit of moving round to be done in there. So how will it go down this weekend? Here’s my best guess.

Salford 10 – 32 Huddersfield – Salford are on a 4 game losing streak and whist Huddersfield haven’t been on fire in recent weeks they’re looking reasonable at the moment and will be looking to set aside last weeks defeat in a hope of getting some late momentum into the play offs.

Wigan 40 – 8 Bradford – Bradford have looked dire in recent weeks, although have pulled out the odd miracle performance over the season, not least a 12 man defeat to Wigan in the Challenge Cup. This weekend though for me could the weekend Wigan all but seal the league shield. Whilst the big game in the run up is Warrington v Wigan next week the Warriors have a home game whilst Wire face the potentially difficult trip to France. Don’t expect the Warriors to slip up here.

Catalans 22 – 18 Warrington – A potential banana skin for Warrington in their quest to beat Wigan to the top – just one point behind going into the weekend they can’t afford to slip up before their game against the Warriors next week and I feel they might just do that. Catalan have great form at home and will be wanting to make sure they can finish high enough to take home advantage into the play offs – a tough game and winnable if the Dragons can contain high scoring Warrington.

Harlequins 10 – 30 Leeds – Both teams will consider this an under performing season but Leeds have the most to play off, with the play offs awaiting they’ll be taking any positives they can from the end of the season and should pick off a lack lustre Quins in a result that may well flatter them.

Wakefield 26 – 32 Castleford – Wakefield looked dire last weekend especially in defence and there’s a feeling of the club having wound down following their Super League survival. Cas didn’t look much better with some stupid errors and bad tackling of their own to get smashed by Leeds for the second time in a week. Whilst this Yorkshire derby always has pride riding on it Cas have more to lose with their play off place still not certain. With that in mind and Cas being the better team I expect them to get an away win.

Crusaders 18 – 26 Hull FC – Crusaders seem determined to say goodbye to Super League in a winning fashion after struggling all season. They’d also be happy to hand Wakefield the wooden spoon. Hull are fighting close competition for their local city rivals for the 8th spot and I think that impetus should be enough to see them over the finish line. I’ll back Hull but I wouldn’t bet against a Crusaders victory either.

Hull KR 22 – 30 Saints – Is this the weekend that Hull KR’s play off hopes come to an end? It certainly looks possible, a win for Hull and defeat at home to Saints could well see them too far adrift, especially if Cas win. Saints are on good form and I reckon they can continue and take apart Hull KR with a couple of tries in it.

Look-a-like

So to end this weeks post a return to rubbish look-a-likes and this week we have Halifax forward Michael Ostick and former Busted front man Charlie Simpson.

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