We look at the positives and negatives from the Challenge Cup weekend.
Bradford Bulls are back. They defied the odds on Saturday as they knocked the old enemy Leeds Rhinos out of the Challenge Cup with a pulsating 24-22 win at Odsal, where there were some incredible scenes.
It was a genuine fairytale for Bulls coach John Kear and half-back Jordan Lilley. The script was written for Lilley, who was found out via his agent in the build-up to the game that he wouldn’t be offered a new deal at the Rhinos once his loan spell at Bradford comes to an end.
Kear has an amazing relationship with the Challenge Cup, having led Sheffield Eagles to glory back in 1998. Lilley was magnificent on the day for the Bulls and will certainly be attracting plenty of interest for next season.
There were over 10,000 in attendance at Odsal, with both sets of supporters being an absolute credit to their clubs. Leeds travelled in good numbers and were respectful in defeat, while Bradford’s supporters were reminded of just how good the Bulls once were. They are on the right path to creating something special under Kear.
Not surprised to see the BBC pick Bradford vs Halifax as their main QF game. The colour, the noise, the passion, the nostalgia, the sight of Odsal packed full of supporters, sharing their love of #RugbyLeague. That’s when you quickly realise the @TheChallengeCup has still got it. pic.twitter.com/Z8VNo5YZlF
— The Game Caller (@TheGameCaller) May 12, 2019
In Sunday’s national televised game, we were treated to another classic derby between Warrington and Wigan. The Wolves progressed to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup thanks to a 26-24 victory at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
But the game was overshadowed by a decision made by video referee Robert Hicks in the game. A lot of fans, players and media thought Dan Sarginson’s effort in the 14th minute should have been given.
It was ruled out because it was deemed as a double knock on following Tommy Leuluai’s big hit on Blake Austin. In an interview with Wigan Today, Wigan executive director Kris Radlinski said: “That clip should be beamed around the world showing how exciting our sport is. What a tackle. Warrington fans were clapping it. We are trying to get a new TV deal and entertain the world yet our official are looking for reasons not to give tries.”
I can’t help but agree with Radlinski’s comments. It was a perfect tackle from Leuluai on Austin, he forced the ball out but because the ball came off his arm it was deemed a knock on. It was a poor decision from Hicks and if the try had been given, the result might have been different.
“If this is ‘no try’, I give up on rugby league” pic.twitter.com/K9Fv6UuiPV
— Phil Wilkinson (@PWilkinsonWIG) May 12, 2019
Referees make mistakes, they are human after all. Everyone makes mistakes. At a time when refereeing numbers are on the decline at our game, we should be treating them with a bit more respect.
Referee James Child was given a horrendous amount of abuse by one fan for referring Sarginson’s decision to the screen and we really don’t want to be seeing stuff like this on our screens. I thought we were the ‘family game’? It’s okay debating a decision, but giving them such abuse is uncalled for.
Like Rod Studd says in this tweet, 99% of rugby league fans are top class but there are 1% who take it too far. Referees do their best, they might not get every decision correct but let’s treat them with more respect.
Just look at the actual state of this. Look at the abuse referee James Child gets. The contorted faces of rage spouting bile. Look at the bloke who arrives at the end. What an image for “the family game”…. 99% of fans are brilliant. We don’t need fans like this thanks. pic.twitter.com/4di9RqKDrf
— Rod Studd (@Rod_Studd) May 12, 2019