Rugby league: Where even the strongest suffer

It’s not been a great few days for the town of Wigan.

Overlooked as a host venue for the 2021 World Cup, the reigning champions were then dealt a two-point deduction to kick-off the Super League season with following a salary cap breach in 2017.

At a time of supposed new beginnings and dragging the sport out of a decade of politics and struggle, it is frustrating that one of the sport’s great names is in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

They should be punished for salary cap offences, as they have been in the past, and questions must be asked about whether repeat offenders should be dealt with more severely.

But the decision to omit arguably the UK’s most famous rugby league name and the home of its most successful club, and current champions, in favour of amongst others, Bolton, is surprising.

Wigan council leader, Cllr David Molyneux, said: “I am extremely disappointed and I can’t understand why Wigan, the home to one of the most famous teams in the world, was not given any games to host throughout the tournament.”

There are cynics who have raised a question as to whether it has been done due to Wigan owner Ian Lenagan’s strong opposition to the RFL regime and their significant involvement in the decision for Super League to break away.

While Super League is now separate, it is still governed by the RFL for things like the salary cap and laws, and the same cynics have suggested that it may be the governing body’s way of getting back at the new look structure.

That’s a conspiracy theory that I find hard to believe, as it’s not in anybody’s best interests to sabotage the other – though of course, it wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened in rugby league circles.

Instead of some colourful features on the new season, which promises to get off with a bang as Saints host Wigan before the Hull derby, amongst others, on Friday night; tomorrow’s papers will be dominated by the Warriors’ salary cap news.

But rugby league is still in the headlines and it’s still exposure – all news is good news, right?