Wakefield have still got a long way to go to be Super League’s worst – Mediawatch

James Gordon

Despite what Sky Sports would have you believe, Wakefield have still got some way to go to beat the worst start ever made by a Super League team.

Ahead of their latest league defeat to Hull, Sky Sports posed whether the match would “see the worst start by any team in Super League history extended”.

But even a 12th successive defeat doesn’t put them near to breaking an unwanted record.

In 2021, Leigh had to wait until August for their first victory as they lost their first 16 Super League games in a season that started behind closed doors due to COVID.

The then-Centurions were late additions to the competition, filling the void left by Toronto Wolfpack, and the late recruitment of their team and the reduced central funding proved too much to overcome.

Their losing run was snapped with a 32-22 h0me win over Salford, and they would only win one other match on their way to relegation – ironically against Wakefield in their penultimate game.

Huddersfield did 15 straight losses at the start of 2001, which finally saw them relegated from the top flight after four successive seasons finishing bottom.

Wakefield’s defeat to Hull took them past Celtic Crusaders’ maiden season in Super League in 2009, when they lost their first 11 league games before a 30-24 win away at Bradford, and Castleford’s 11-game losing start to the 2004 Super League season at the end of which they were relegated.

Many will remember Halifax’s season in 2003 when they won just one game, and finished on zero points due to a points deduction. The game they won was actually their first, away at London, meaning no records were set for losing starts to the season by them.

The writing was on the wall for London Broncos in 2014, when the end of the licensing era resulted in two teams being relegated from Super League.

The Broncos were never in the race to survive, and also had to wait until August to taste what would be their only victory of the season – 40-36 over Leeds.

They had suffered a total of 23 successive defeats from the start of the season before that point, which is the current record.

Where it all starts

There’s a great deal of saturation in rugby league at present, and it’s largely caused by the fact there simply isn’t enough of it.

It will come to a head though at some point, which is why there needs to be some realism about the way it’s covered, and also some respect.

For example, one website credited a recent interview with Jamie Peacock to the official Super League site – when in fact, the Super League site article was a brief synopsis of a story in The Mirror. Without their direct link getting the credit, it might discourage The Mirror from future pieces.

Likewise, if at the start of the chain it becomes unfeasible to send writers to press conferences, or to write certain pieces, then what happens?

One Super League club boasted recently of a weekly press conference for the national and local press. The reality was that there was just one journalist on it – ours.

That didn’t stop the club from tweeting the quotes from the press conference, with all questions asked by us. That pretty much wipes out any real benefit in producing a story on it. So what happens if we then decide it’s simply not financially viable to put a journalist on in future?

The other frustration is going along to press conferences, asking a question, and then seeing the answer to it elsewhere. Of course, that’s something that has always happened. But when it’s used elsewhere by publications not on the call, who manage to hide behind giving the credit to a club’s YouTube channel or local radio station, it again calls in to question the viability of coverage.

That is probably the reality facing many publications at the moment; and with national rugby league correspondents now being virtually a thing of the past, it makes you wonder where the coverage might come from in the future if it keeps going down the path it is.

Reach’s Matt Shaw is the go to for transfer stories in rugby league, yet receives no credit when his stories are picked up and speculated on by Sky Sports, which is a shame.

Who’s that girl?

Good to see more coverage of the women’s game, although whether they need separate social media accounts is certainly something up for debate.

Putting a greater focus on individual players and telling their stories is good too, but make sure you give them a name!

Warrington later tweeted confirming ‘Number 12’ was indeed Kacy Haley.

You may have picked up a subtle change to Sky Sports reporting in recent months, no doubt linked to the growth of women’s sport.

Rather than referencing 12-man teams in the men’s game, it is now commonplace to say 12-player (or equivalent).

This was first spotted in April with the headline ‘Twelve-player Warrington Wolves continue unbeaten run with dramatic win over Catalans Dragons‘.

Back to the start again

Newswire journalists are used to seeing their hard work published elsewhere and passed off as someone else’s – the difference being, those people pay.

We have been fortunate over the past few years to carry plenty of pieces from the late, great Ian Laybourn as we subscribed to the Press Association feed.

The Australian equivalent, AAP, has been getting picked up by Zero Tackle, to the irk of journalist Scott Bailey.

Sadly, no surprise. I sat behind a Zero Tackle writer at a World Cup game (fair play for making the trip), and saw him brazenly access our website and save images from it (which we pay a royalty for) to essentially rip off and use on their own site. There’s a way to do things, folks.

The little things

Waiting for the highlights from Friday night games until Monday or Tuesday is tiresome. Is it because of the deal with the Super League Show?

Having tries missing too is also frustrating, as was the case with the Leeds v Wigan game at the weekend.

Speaking of which, such is Betfred’s monopoly over sponsorship in rugby league at the moment, that the Rhinos didn’t notice they had left the Super League logo on their full-time result graphic from the weekend.

Whatever you think of betting sponsorship, without Betfred’s support in recent seasons, who knows where the game might be.