Welcome to the second installment of The Final Hooter. This week I’ve decided to delve into the current goings on within the game and one of its most controversial subjects. The rugby league world was gifted an invaluable break from playing this week due to the historical Challenge Cup Final fixture at the new Wembley stadium. I suspect many teams will have used this break to put things into perspective as the final weeks of the season draw ever closer.
Teams are battling until the very last moment at both ends of the Super League table in order to end their season on a high. Challenge Cup winners St Helens are still fighting off the Leeds Rhinos, who are eagerly awaiting a slip up by the champions in order to steal the top spot. Other teams such as Bradford, Hull FC, Warrington, Huddersfield, Wakefield and Wigan are all competing hard to secure their place in the Play offs. While at the more desperate end of the table are Hull KR making sure they keep the edge on poor old Salford to keep their Super League place for 2008.
With all this excitement going on it’s hard to predict where any particular team could end up come the end of the season in three weeks time. However, I can’t seem to have much faith in Salford. With two away games to Wigan and Harlequins and a home game to Warrington Wolves still left to play, it’s difficult to see where they will pick up the points.
It’s this time of year when the world of rugby league starts once again on the big debate; promotion and relegation, Friend or foe? Many will argue that the current system means that good teams are losing out in major ways. If a team gets relegated, they stand to lose substantial amounts of revenue and other capital due to the loss of coverage, players and other staff. However, the only reason a team is in that situation is due to their poor performances and consequential league position. Every year at least on team will under perform all season and end up wallowing at the bottom of the league for 8 months. So why do they deserve a place in top flight rugby league over a team who have battled hard, in many cases gone unbeaten and stayed high up in the National League One table for eighteen rounds?
In my opinion, relegation and promotion really sorts the men from the boys in Super League. For instance, if promotion and relegation were removed from the game then how would we ever have any excitement? I understand how devastating it can be for the fans, players and staff at a relegated club. On the other hand, there’s the excitement, joy and pride for all those involved at a newly promoted club. I cannot see rugby league in this country being anything like the spirited competition we are used to without promotion and relegation. Anyone who plays for or supports a team which isn’t Super League then has absolutely nothing to aim for. There would be no “sky’s the limit” attitude, no aspirations, and no dreams. Is this really the future of Rugby League? Let’s hope not!
It’s a whole different ball game.
She’s a whole different writer.