Rugby League making headlines – oh dear

Every morning I pick up the paper, scouring it for a mention of rugby league in the sports section, one of those little paragraph articles on the side with a bold headline Rugby League to tell me Willie Mason still doesn’t have a Tongan passport. The national papers, or even national news, aren’t generally the best place to look for Rugby League coverage so imagine my delight to see Rugby League leading yesterday morning and my dismay that yet again it’s not for a good reason. It appears Shaun Leaf, Doncaster captain, has stupidly bet on his own team to lose, and seriously how stupid can you get? Not just because common sense says you don’t go out betting on your own team to lose but because about an hour down the road at Hull a bloke called Shaun Long is playing rugby. Now for those of you with short memories, or who were just too young in 2004, Shaun Long, along with Martin Gleeson, got himself caught up in a betting scandal by betting on games he was playing in, they were each fined and suspended. I had to check but Shaun Leaf is about 27, surely he remembers this, he was 21 at the time.

You’ll also see on Love Rugby League this week that Ben Cockayne will face no action for comments made on Facebook. Hang on. Getting in trouble for comments made on Facebook? This is even more in recent memory!

There was an interesting article I did read this week about Union players in the light that Gavin Henson and Andy Powell have been mis behaving on the other side of the rugby border, along with Danny Cipriani down under. Amongst many things it was mentioned that Rugby players may not have the same day to day scrutiny as footballers for example and it’s easy to not consider their public standing but when something goes wrong they can quite easily get all the same level of trouble and press and that’s something that equally applies to players in Rugby League and is equally forgoten.

Rugby League also got another mention in the papers this week, or more accurately it didn’t. The Times ran an article about the possibility of franchising the top division of Rugby Union (you can read it here if you can get past the paywall – http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/sport/rugbyunion/article3012228.ece) The article mentions the idea of a system that requires “some visionary thinking” and goes on to suggests the removal of promotion and relegation from the Union premiership in favour of a three year licensing system. Revolutionary thinking!? That’s just copying Super League. What’s great is that the article mentions the licensing in the NFL and NRL and somehow doesn’t manage to look at Super League, how can you possibly look at the merits of a franchise system without looking at a competition that already does exactly that! It’s like deciding you’ll set up a fish and chip shop and looking at the business models of McDonalds and the Ivy and not bothering to check out a chip shop! I’m still not sure if this is lazy journalism or the oft mentioned blind spot for Rugby League in the media.

Some of you may also remember a couple of weeks ago I asked in my post who actually dislikes Rugby League and well it turns out it’s Chris Ashton. I imagine most people have by now read the interview in The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/8484137/Northampton-Saints-v-Perpignan-Chris-Ashton-blossoms-in-the-nurturing-warmth-of-rugby-union.html if you haven’t) but Ashton has very much surprised me with some of his comments regarding league, but I doubt many people are going to cry over it. What is interesting for me though is reading the article the major thread of anti league sentiment comes more from Paul Ackford and I think it’s easy to carry that more into Ashton’s sentiments. I haven’t read it but I’m told The People ran pretty much the same interview written up by someone else and without all the rubbish Ackford puts in there is a lot less of an anti league feeling in the article and Ashton’s words on their own. Oh and check out the comments on the Telegraph article if you enjoy my codes more complicated/simpler and therefore better than your code arguments.

But still amongst all that we returned to BBC coverage as we kicked off this years Challenge Cup on TV with two reasonable games. Leeds players dropping like flies helped give Crusaders a glimmer of hope as they came up short and Fax ran Bradford reasonably close on Sunday, two decent enough games. Then the draw, bumped up from Radio 5 and on TV again. And in all that it seems like it’s been ages since anyone kicked a ball in Super League, and they’re mostly doing tonight. After a less than reasonable round last time out (only 3 correct, no I didn’t predict the draw) here’s my tips for this week.

Warrington 32 – 10 Castleford – The Tigers have let it slip a bit recently, now on a 3 games losing streak. I expect a home win for Warrington and a comfortable (ish) scoreline even if it may not be a comfortable game.

Crusaders 22 – 8 Wakefield – Two teams who aren’t expected to trouble the play off places are meeting over a Wrexham, I’d put Crusaders in here after their decent showing against Leeds in the cup. Still if Wakey can take advantage of Witt’s slow defence they may pickup more than 8.

Leeds 24 – 16 Catlans – This is a difficult one, Catlan have been playing well away from home and Leeds looked like they were getting back to their old sleves only for Danny McGuire to pick up another injury and put him back out for a couple of weeks, a home win none the less.

Salford 18 – 24 Hull – It’d be interesting to look at how many times I tip certain teams to win, I can’t really be bothered though, but I’d bet Salford get very tips. This week no change, an win to an indifferent Hull team.

Wigan 32 – 10 Quins – The shine has certainly rubbed off from Quins good early start and Wigan are picking up results as you’d expect. An easy win for Wigan with the odd points for Quins maybe.

Huddersfield 18 – 12 Saints – This for me looks like the game of the round and a some big defence may well keep the score low, a home win for Huddersfield is my tip though.

Hull KR 22 – 18 Bradford – I’m very tempted to say “who know’s?” both teams have played well this season and both have played very badly and you never know which team will turn up each week. So I will err on the side of home advantage and a Hull KR win.

And that ladies and gentlemen is Super League after a week off. I will leave you with news that the England and Exiles kits are released. As pointed out by Love Rugby League boss @jdgmedia on twitter Sam Burgess loves the camera, check out that pout.

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