Woods apologises for Gateshead ‘bye’ remark

Journalist Dave Woods has issued an apology to Gateshead Thunder for his comments during the live Challenge Cup draw on BBC yesterday afternoon.

It comes after the club publicly blasted the BBC for their coverage of Gateshead during the televised draw, in which Thunder were drawn against St Helens.

Woods, commenting on the draw, said the tie was “a bye for St Helens.”

Rod Findlay, Chief Executive of Gateshead Thunder, said: “We are the only Co-operative Championship club left in the competition and playing St Helens will be a tough ask but we are still in the cup and if St Helens want to get to the Semi Finals they will need to come and beat us. The BBC are the primary broadcaster for the Challenge Cup and to announce live on TV that one of the ties is a Bye is degrading to the competition and shows a lack of respect for Gateshead Thunder.

“The BBC needs to review its coverage of rugby league and clubs out of the heartlands. If this was an FA Cup tie, the BBC would never state that a match was a bye. In fact they would probably show it as there would be a chance of a giant killing.”

But after receiving criticism on the official Thunder messageboard (hosted by LastTackle.com), Woods posted the following apology: “Sorry that I caused some of you some offence with the comments made at the cup draw yesterday. I didn’t mean to. I have every respect for what’s going on at Gateshead and as a true fan of rugby league I genuinely wish you all the best. Clubs like yours are enormously important to the game as a whole.

“You’ve got an excellent coach in Steve McCormack. I’ve seen his commitment and ability at both Whitehaven and Widnes. Hopefully you will go from strength to strength.

“I know it’s a real battle getting the credit you deserve out of the spotlight of Super League and the so-called “heartlands” but it’s a credit to you that the battle keeps being fought.

“If you beat Saints, I’d be truly delighted. More realistically I hope you can give them a real tussle in front of a good crowd.

“The fact that quite a few people have expressed an angry response to what was said yesterday shows there is real passion for Rugby League in the North East.

“Long may it continue. And hopefully you’ll be competing against the likes of Sts on a regular basis before too long. You should never have lost your super league status in the first place, but that’s another story…..”

The tie will be played on the weekend of May 30/31, and Thunder CEO Findlay is looking forward to the tie.

“We are looking forward to hosting St Helens, who have never won at the Gateshead International Stadium, and I am sure it will be a great experience for all of our players, staff and fans.

“I know Mick Potter from his time at Catalans Dragons and the St Helens staff and Directors from my time at the RFL [the sports governing body] and it is an honour to welcome a club that is respected throughout the world for their history and playing style. I can’t wait for the tie. There’s already a buzz about the match and the phones having been ringing non-stop with people asking about tickets.”

The club are hoping to announce further details regarding the date, time and ticket arrangements for the tie tomorrow, May 12.

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