It was the last round of Super League this weekend and really there was only one important game, Wakefield v Castleford, and it was one immense battle. Both team played some on the best rugby for a very long time.
Both teams gave 100% and it was great entertainment. For Wakefield it was the best game I've seen Ben Jefferies ever play. The promotion and relegation battle brought out the best in him, likewise with Jamie Rooney and Castleford's Michael Platt. John Kear has done an amazing job with the Wildcats. He and Brian Noble should be contenders for coach of the year.
This re-opens the whole debate of whether Super League should scrap promotion and relegation and just get a franchise. On Last Tackle forums the members have been having a big debate about this, read all about it http://forums.lasttackle.com/index.php?showtopic=4213. Castleford, like Leigh came up to Super League and within a year they went straight back down again. But there has been a world of difference between Castleford and Leigh.
Castleford were incredibly competitive. They finished on the highest number of points ever for a relegated team which is a good achievement. In my opinion anyway Castleford shouldn’t have gone down it should have been Catalans. If you ask me they finished bottom so they should be relegated. But also I think they should have started in National League One. Castleford were great and didn't deserve to go down. During the season they defeated Leeds, Wigan (twice) and Warrington by a heavy margin. So I think they were unlucky to go down.
Starting a franchise I think would put many National League clubs out of business and after ten-twenty years they would all go out of business. Relegation is cruel but for the good of the game it has to happen.
I have also noticed that the referees of Super League have got a lot harsher on the punishments. I remember Good Friday 2004 St Helens v Wigan a massive brawl kicked off and two players got sin binned, now they would have been sent off. I think this harshness by the officials is good for the game and should sort some indiscipline out. But can the referees be consistent with the card like this next year?
Finally, on to the National League play offs. Big shock in the play offs yesterday, Batley beating Leigh. I believe that Batley nearly beat Hull KR too. So they have the quality to get quite far in these ply offs but I think they will just run out and couldn't string a lot of brilliant games together.
Next time in ‘Talking Rugby’, I will be talking about the play offs in Super League and National League One and the promotion of rugby league internationally.