If this year’s Qualifiers have taught us anything, it’s that the Championship is not as far behind Super League as many people think. Sky have held the rights to broadcast Championship rugby league for some time but have chosen not to show any of the fantastic quality the league has to offer. The only opportunity fans of the Championship get to watch their team on TV through the season is at the Summer Bash, Challenge Cup and of course the soon to be extinct Super 8s Qualifiers. I feel that Sky clearly bought the rights to the Championship to prevent another broadcaster from showcasing the league and gaining viewing figures; but if they aren’t activating them, what’s the point?
The domestic competition deserves a chance to shine on the silver screen, but it’s ignored over Super League coverage. The top flight competition for most of 2018 has seen many lacklustre games, whereas the Championship has been very competitive. There was a clear winner in Toronto Wolfpack but from second to sixth there was only a single point separating them prior to the end-of-season play-off split. Comparing that to Super League and again, there was a clear winner in Saints but from second to fourth there was only three points separating them, however there was a clear nine and ten points further drop to fifth and sixth respectively. Near the end of the regular season the Championship had many more competitive matches than Super League, but these were ignored to the frustration of many.
In the Championship only one team has big money to spend and the rest have similar budgets showing in their league standings, but that doesn’t diminish the quality as the Qualifiers has shown, particular in the round six group of fixtures when the Championship sides took a 3-1 game lead over their so-called bigger opposition. Yes, the Qualifiers are on TV but the journey getting to there was missing and clearly worth watching. From next season there won’t be any Qualifiers so many people, as they have done for a number of years now, are calling for Sky to showcase what the Championship has to offer on a weekly basis from 2019. The league has many quality players with the likes of Johnathon Ford, Mark Kheirallah and Jarrod Sammut to name just a few. The latter you may remember from Super League but Ford and Kheirallah have gone almost unnoticed in their careers so far when they deserve so much more for the entertainment they clearly provide the Championship fans on a regular basis.
I do understand why Sky choose to show mainly Super league coverage, because logic dictates that people want to see the elite competition with the best players. But there are some sensational players in the Championship and more importantly there are terrific matches played every week in a highly competitive and entertaining league. It simply doesn’t do rugby league justice when we’re only showing some of our talent, and therefore guessing who certain players are when they do eventually grace our screens. I just hope that in 2019 the Championship and League 1 will get the coverage it so richly deserves.