Eye On Rugby League by Tony Williams
The past two weeks have seen six engage Super League clubs found guilty of infringing salary cap regulations. Bradford and Wigan were, if the punishments are anything to go by, the two worst culprits – with Wakefield, Castleford, Hull and St Helens guilty of minor offences.
The main question that has arisen from the situation is: are the punishments as fair or effective as they could be? Bradford and Wigan have come under most scrutiny having been deducted two points apiece.
The loss of those two points last season could have had a profound effect on the Bulls – pushing them back into fourth place. Instead of facing London and then Hull, Bradford would have had to face Hull first and then the Andrew Johns-inspired Warrington away from home.
This may not have had any effect on the Bulls surge to Old Trafford but we'll now never know.
Earlier this season Wigan were accused of breaching the cap after the sensational signing of Stuart Fielden from Bradford. However the Warriors were still within the limits of their salary cap spending power, a fact confirmed by the RFL.
But hang on a minute. If the RFL knew that Wigan were still within the cap while this season was still ongoing, why is it that they didn't know that the club, and five other clubs, were over the cap while last season was still ongoing?
So surely that proves that it is possible for the RFL to realise a club's salary cap position at any given moment. And that power should be exercised because the salary cap will have no credibility unless the punishments go in the same season as the offences.
Relegation Battle Hots Up
John Kear certainly seems to have had the desired effect at Wakefield. The Wildcats have won two from two games since his arrival at Belle Vue and the club will still be more than hopeful of avoiding the drop.
Wakefield will face Leeds Rhinos on Friday night in what will be another desperate Super League clash. But I wouldn't bet against the Wildcats coming away with another crucial two points, especially given Leeds current run of poor form.
The Rhinos lost out to Wigan last Friday, in what was a crucial win for the Warriors. To stay up Wakefield will have to overcome the resurgent Wigan, and there lies the difficulty of their task.
The Wildcats have games coming up against Leeds, St Helens, Bradford and Castleford, from which I think they will take four points. The Warriors will have to face Huddersfield, Harlequins, Bradford and Hull, from which I can see them gathering four points as well – if they can manage to beat the equally resurgent Quins.
In my opinion then, that game between Wigan and Harlequins holds the key to which club will stay up and which will face the drop to LHF National League One.
This weekend sees the opening exchanges in amateur rugby league's top division – the BARLA National Conference. The biggest teams in the amateur game will battle it out over the next seven months to emerge as the top dogs in their respective leagues.
Premier Division champions Oulton Raiders will be looking to retain their crown, but will face stiff opposition from the likes of Thornhill Trojans, Leigh Miners Rangers, Wigan St Patricks and newly-promoted West Hull, among others.
If you can get down to see a game this Saturday – you won't be disappointed.
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