Last Tackle: Dobson’s choice and Super League Saturdays

Widnes. Widnes Vikings v Salford Red Devils in the Betfred Super League round 6 clash at The Halton Stadium on Friday 24th March 2017. Michael Dobson of Salford Red Devils during Widnes Vikings v Salford Red Devils in the Betfred Super League round 6 clash. MANDATORY CREDIT: SteJones/RLPIX.COM For editorial use only. Copyright remains property of rlpix.com

The Last Tackle is our new weekly column that has the final say on the rugby league weekend, named in homage to the former name of this very website.

Dobson’s choice for super Salford

Any hopes that Ian Watson may have had about Salford going under the radar this season are well and truly over, as the Red Devils surge in to top four contention. Much has been said about the arrival of Todd Carney sparring Robert Lui into action, but Michael Dobson has re-captured the form that made him one of the most sought after halves in Super League over the last decade.

A 16 point haul led the Red Devils to victory over St Helens, and while you’re always guaranteed a kicking game from Dobson, it was his running at the line and bravery in defence that highlighted his impact. Perhaps one of Super League’s finest imports, having spent the majority of his career here, Dobson was one of the superstar signings of the early Koukash years who is now flourishing in much more stable surroundings under Watson, whose stock as a coach in only his second year is increasing rapidly.

Saturday Super League

Yes, the glorious weather helped. But I thoroughly enjoyed my Saturday afternoon at the rugby at the weekend. With Sunday games becoming even less frequent now, perhaps it is time for Super League teams to look at making Saturday 3pm an alternative kick-off time. It means less hassle for moving fixtures if there are TV games the following week, and from May-August, you could pick up some routine football goers still looking for their sport fix.

OK, so amateur players will have clashes, but it wouldn’t be every week. People will no doubt say “what about football during the season”, but ultimately rugby league has to do what is best for itself – and not worry about what else is on. There will always be something else to do, regardless of when you have it. Sundays would then be left for Championship and League 1 games, with more focus being put on them teams encouraging Super League season ticket holders to attend at discount prices.

Lee’s All Gold

Shout out to Gloucestershire All Golds, who in their 100th competitive match, picked up a tremendous away win at Workington to reach the League 1 Cup semi-finals. For all the controversy, and to be honest downright pointlessness, of the likes of Hemel and Oxford training and basing themselves elsewhere, the All Golds are flying the expansion flag in a region that has a long history within the game. Coach Lee Greenwood has turned them in to a competitive side, and with the support and facilities around them, their steady growth might be one to keep an eye on in future years.

French derby on the horizon?

Toulouse are second in the Championship after picking up their sixth win of the season, at Rochdale. The Frenchman only managed four in the entire season last time they played on these shores, and even in their best year in 2009, only picked up nine.

They’re well on their way to a spot in the top four and the Middle 8, which could pit them up against Catalans, should the Dragons fail to reverse their alarming dip in form that will surely have coach Laurent Frayssinous under pressure. Given the history between the two clubs, it would be a humdinger.

What a waste of Nines

This might not be a popular opinion, but I’m baffled by the announcement from the RLIF that there will be a Nines World Cup in 2019. They can barely organise the 13-man version of the game (we still don’t have a clue what England are up to in 2018), and now want to organise another competition in another format of the game.

There seems to be an obsession with short forms of sport, mainly due to the success of Twenty20 cricket and Rugby Sevens. Those two worked, because the long form versions of those two sports were either too long for the mass market (Test match cricket) or boring (rugby union until rule changes in the last few years).

The product on the pitch is, by and large, not the problem for rugby league. So why on earth does another format need pursuing, when we still haven’t cracked the bread and butter commercially or marketing-wise?

The Last Tackle is our new weekly column that has the final say on the rugby league weekend, named in homage to the former name of this very website.

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