Five things: Bradford relegated, obstruction disasters and Sinfield’s headbutt

Neil Barraclough

One – It’s over

At long last, Bradford have joined London in next year’s Championship and their long-suffering fans have been put out of their misery.

Bulls boss James Lowes said: “They’ll stick with us, I know that. They’ll be there next year, they’ll encourage the boys and the boys will feed off that.” 

He added: “I’m pretty gutted. The shadow’s been there, and I understood coming into the job there was a very real possibility this would happen, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

“What’s happened in the last couple of years with the club has been a disgrace, and that has a massive effect on the players.

“But what we’ve got now is a chairman who’s 100 per cent committed to the cause, the club’s stable off the field, and the next generation of Bulls players don’t have that to worry about that. That’s massively important.”

The Championship is already a hugely competitive competition. Throwing London and Bradford in there should only add to that, and will make for some tense matches in 2015.

Best of luck to all concerned.


Two – As clear as mud

Another weekend, another set of obstruction disasters for rugby league to sort out.

First Justin Carney had his effort ruled out on Thursday night after Phil Bentham judged Michael Shenton had blocked Kallum Watkins.

Pressed for his view on Sky Sports before Bentham reached his decision, former referees boss Stuart Cummings said: “In that situation, I’d allow play to go on and I would give the try.”

Ten seconds later: no try.

Twenty-four hours later at Widnes, and Stefan Marsh is about to have his try ruled out by Ben Thaler.

Cummings’ verdict? “There’s nothing wrong with that. He’s not obstructing him, he just misses a tackle. It should be a try.”

Ten seconds later: no try.

If the man who ran the referee’s department for more than a decade is baffled, what chance is there for the rest of us?


Three – Even the coaches are stumped

A few weeks ago, a group of match officials – including current boss Jon Sharp – held a media briefing at Red Hall to try to explain what was going on.

According to those present at the meeting, it was claimed that “coaches played their part in this interpretation”.

Huddersfield assistant coach Chris Thorman responded to that suggestion on Twitter on Thursday night. “Yeah right…” he wrote.

That was after he’d already let rip while watching the Leeds-Castleford match: “Ridiculous rule. Ruining the game. #obstruction #bollocks #rugbyleague.”

Is the sport really going to persist until the end of the year with an interpretation that is so badly upsetting players, fans, and coaches across the country?


Four – Kevin Sinfield is human

Hands up who sat open-mouthed as they watched Kevin Sinfield lose his rag on Thursday night?

A few weeks enforced rest for the Leeds captain will make sure nobody at Headingley is smiling about the incident – but the look of shock on Luke Dorn’s face was priceless.

Brian McDermott said: “Kev’s played over 500 games at this level ever since he was a young man. In every one of those games he’s played, everybody targets him – sometimes legally, sometimes pushing and bending the law.

“Kevin’s never once moaned. He’s got on with it, dealt with it, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him have a mental flash of ill discipline, ever. I think we can afford him just a little lapse in all those games. There’s nobody more disappointed than Kev.”


Five – Coming soon: a Challenge Cup cracker

A win for Widnes over form team Warrington suddenly makes next month’s Challenge Cup semi-final hugely intriguing.

The Vikings have slumped over the last two months, but knocking off Warrington shows they’re still capable.

Denis Betts said: “Everyone did their job. Our pack was massive and there’s not a player who didn’t give us something.”

He added: “We are better and are getting better and the belief is there.”

But 24 hours earlier, Daryl Powell was disappointed at only getting a draw from a trip to Headingley.

Powell said: “We had to dig out a draw in the end, but on balance I thought we were the better side.”

Whoever wins, they will add undoubted colour to Wembley. We can’t wait.



Any thoughts? Drop them in the comments box below.

Follow Neil Barraclough on Twitter @neilbarraclough