Another fine mess

Bad 24 hours for Rugby League

Well the game in this country got the boost it so desperately needed last weekend when both our clubs won their World Club Series games against the Aussies.

In true Rugby League style, it lasted less than seven days, an all too familiar tale in a sport that has a PhD in shooting itself in the foot.

Now before we start, nobody can control the weather and Storm Doris has battered the North West, that’s the North West not just Wigan.

There are three games scheduled within 15 miles of each other tonight and only the DW Stadium could not survive the weather. When the fixtures were announced, eyebrows were cast over the Wigan v Widnes game, five days after the World Club Challenge with Wigan Athletic playing 24 hours later on the same pitch.

‘If Wigan win they’ll be out on the ale all week, no way the football team will let them play the day before a crucial Relegation battle’ they said. So now we have the situation that with no notice, the fixture is reversed and Widnes will be at home with the Vikings now travelling to the DW in July.

It lends yourself to the obvious question, why wasn’t the game moved to Sunday or switched to Widnes in the first place. We must give our clubs every helping hand possible in their quest for glory against the NRL sides, so if Sky are desperate to show the game they can show it on Sunday, surely the game of the week is the one that’s on now anyway!

The league could allow the Wigan players an extra two days off to get over a gruelling game against high profile opponents, and yes okay, they’re allowed a day of celebration after a momentous victory.

It was handled in a way that lacks professionalism, with Widnes seemingly seething about not being consulted. They said in a statement they were tempted to try and claim a forfeiture from Wigan and be awarded the two points. As soon as Widnes were informed, efforts were made to play the fixture to avoid three games in a week later in the season, it’s beyond belief that the Vikings weren’t involved in the original postponement.

Now we have the crazy situation of Widnes season ticket holders who can’t go tonight, missing out through no fault of their own. Wigan have compensated Widnes for loss of revenue and surely the next step is to offer their season ticket holders free admission to the return fixture in June.

Wigan are very lucky Widnes have decided to play ball over this, a forfeiture may not have cost the Warriors a place in the Super 8s, it may not even have cost them a place in the top four, but last season two points separated the top three, so it could have cost them a home semi-final and ultimately a place at Old Trafford. This would have been deserved for the arrogance shown to Widnes, the sport and most importantly their own season ticket holders.

The Rugby Football League have confirmed that they will still investigate the circumstances surrounding the postponement of the original game by Wigan and any potential breach of the RFL Operational Rules.

This whole fiasco has cost the Warriors financially, but more importantly it has damaged the reputation of the club and has once again made Rugby League in this country look very amateurish.

  • Daryl Rogerson

    A decidedly amateur affair for all parties involved. Why on earth the RFL haven’t learned from the previous seasons in Wigan Athletic and Wigan Warriors fixtures clashes is beyond me. Both teams were away from home two weeks ago and then meant to be at home this weekend. Not particularly sure why the RFL scheduled it like that, but given they knew the football was already scheduled they should have accommodated it properly. Secondly, Warriors conduct in not asking for a fixture move in the last few months has been very poor. We knew from last weekend that the storm would hit and past experiences from both clubs know that the pitch gets very heavy after rain even before a match would be played on it. Lastly, a few Widnes fans must be shaking their heads at their clubs generousity. Surely a club that only made the Super 8’s last season on Pts difference taking into account Salford’s 6pt deduction must surely consider taking the seemingly easy ‘2 points’ on offer by Wigan failing their fixture. Widnes are tipped to struggle this year and if they get beat tonight, those 2 points may have been a godsend come the business end of the season.

  • John Robinson

    Just seen a photo of the sprinklers on the pitch at the DW. As a Wigan R.L. fan I am so embarrassed. I believe that we have been let down by, firstly the RFL over the initial fixture placement and then by our Chairman over the postponement decision. The decision to reverse the fixture perhaps saved the day but I note the comments above re Widnes’ possible precarious league position. No one comes out of this well……

  • Paul verity

    This brings the game into disrepute. When I first heard they were postponing I assumed it was the Thursday game, to cancel 30 hours before the event made it look even more shady. Then to do it unilaterally without any RFL officials involved is scandalous, begs the question would a club do this if it had a few injuries or for any other reason? Really wish Widnes had held on for the win and hope a points penalty might still be applied