The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards were held last night with England goalkeeper Mary Earps claiming the main award, but it was another year at the prestigious award ceremony where rugby league was snubbed.
Earps was crowned Sports Personality of the Year for her incredible performances for both Manchester United and England, helping guide the Lionesses to the World Cup Final down under in Australia.
She beat out cricket Stuart Broad and heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson but as for the whole host of other awards there was no acknowledgment for rugby league sadly.
Leigh Leopards were in with a shout at being crowned Team of the Year but that award went to football’s Manchester City for their treble winning season, the first time an English team has done so since city rivals Manchester United achieved the feat in 1999.
It was therefore somewhat understandable that Leigh didn’t lift the Team of the Year award but a bigger focus on the sport in general would certainly have been appreciated, particularly given the huge fee that IMG are being paid to promote the sport.
Previous years have seen special awards granted to Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow, Burrow lifting the Helen Rollason Award in 2022 which is given to those “for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity”.
Instead this year the only brief mention that rugby league got came during the run-down of the year’s events, both St Helens and Leigh’s Challenge Cup successes getting a nod in the voiceover.
That voiceover noted: “Saints were winners in rugby league’s women’s Challenge Cup, the first at Wembley. Just a points leeway on a historic Leigh day in the men’s final meant silver matched with leopard print.”
That led on to a short interview with Leopards owner Derek Beaumont who was accompanied alongside Adrian Lam and Josh Charnley, Beaumont asked to explain what the Challenge Cup victory meant for the club and it’s fans.
Clad in leopard print, Beaumont explained: “To the diehard fans they’ll probably say (it meant) more than life itself, they’ve waited 52 years for it. I think more than anything it gives hope, ambition and inspiration, and for a town as small as Leigh it gives us recognition and a purpose.”
The Leopards will look to retain their trophy in 2024, aiming to become the first team since Hull FC in 2017 to successfully defend their crown and they’ll be aided by the addition of new signing Matt Moylan.
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