There’s a peculiar look to the top of the Championship table, with Toulouse sitting pretty at the top despite winning three games less than rivals Featherstone.
That is of course no fault of the French side, who have not been able to play any home games in 2021 due to the ongoing quarantine restrictions preventing part-time teams from making the trip to Stade Ernest Wallon.
It’s worth noting that had their missing games been forfeited as a 24-0 win for Toulouse, then they would sit top of a conventional table on points difference.
— Rugby Football League (@TheRFL) July 6, 2021
Toulouse and Featherstone are head and shoulders above the rest in the Championship and it would be a brave man that bets against them two facing each other in the Grand Final for promotion to Super League.
You feel that life would have been a lot easier all round had Toulouse been elevated rather than Leigh for 2021, and perhaps in hindsight, everyone involved may have preferred that solution.
As it is, in spite of the restrictions relating to Toulouse, the Championship appears to be doing a much better job than Super League of avoiding postponements due to coronavirus and injuries.
But as we had past the midway part of the season, the likelihood of only games involving Toulouse being called off raises questions over the impact on other teams, particularly when it comes to relegation.
Oldham, who currently sit in the bottom two, were due in Toulouse last weekend – but their nearest rivals York are scheduled to travel to France later in the season.
Another side in the bottom half who are due to travel later in the season are Dewsbury.
With the way the points percentage system works, it would be an advantage to those clubs who don’t have to travel to Toulouse, than those who do (assuming nobody pulls off a shock win!).
If, say, Oldham and York finish on five wins each – the fact York (could) play an extra game away at Toulouse would be the difference between them staying up or going down.
It’s a tricky one for Toulouse, who must be feeling a significant financial squeeze as a result of things out of their control; especially when you consider had they been in Super League, they wouldn’t have faced the same problems.
It would be a surprise if Toulouse play anything more than 13 games, all away from home – which would take them up to 14, given their home game against London Broncos was awarded in their favour earlier in the season.
That will take them past the 16 game threshold for the play-offs, as the RFL have already confirmed they won’t be penalised for missing games due to quarantine restrictions – which raises the question why bother with the points percentage system in the first place.
They also played Widnes and Swinton in the UK, which were designated Toulouse home games, as they weren’t scheduled to play the Vikings or the Lions away in the league this season.
Speaking of York, it’s been an extremely disappointing campaign for them so far.
They have lost 14 of their last 18 Championship matches and have tumbled down the table to 12th spot. The play-offs already look out of reach.
Injuries to both their half-backs haven’t helped, and neither has the seemingly constant arrival of loan players throughout the season.
Even taking in to account injuries, which every club has been suffering with, their team on paper should be doing better than it is.
Hats off to Halifax, not just for their recent run of six wins, but for the way they handled a deluge of rain prior to their game with Widnes on Sunday.
They're clearly hoping this will dry out in the next hour… no real work going on to try and get it off now rain has stopped. There's not a chance unless it does. A few Halifax players are out on the pitch now. pic.twitter.com/vUqM1pT41h
— James Gordon (@jdgsport) July 4, 2021
Such was the volume of rain, a significant build-up of it in the corner of the pitch looked like causing a postponement – but a delayed kick-off, coupled with the actions of staff, enabled the removal of the water in the problematic corner and the game went ahead.
Hopefully they can find a solution to the run off in that corner – but if all else fails, they could always shorten and narrow the pitch like a certain West Yorkshire neighbour of theirs.