WHEN the Challenge Cup fifth-round draw was made I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Sheffield Eagles had done all the hard yards - away wins over an amateur team and York City Knights, where despite not hitting the high spots they came away with a 50-18 victory.
After that you deserve a good draw - a home tie with one of the Super League glamour clubs. In the past two seasons there’s been a repeat of the 1998 final against Wigan and a trip to face St Helens. But the omens weren’t good when in this week’s draw the Eagles were given number 13.
It’s great to get a top Super League team - but the South-west of France is quite an away day. The big winner is Ryanair. I’d have taken a trip to Oldham.
Hopefully the Catalan game will attract a good crowd and the Eagles will have a nice cheque at the end.
It’s got to be better than the £2.19 share of the take following the third-round game and the 551 who turned up at York won’t excite the bank manager.
But you can’t beat the Challenge Cup - a competition that always produces drama - and it’s time the BBC realised that.
In last weekend’s games Featherstone Rovers, who a week before had been slammed 60-40 by the Eagles, beat Castleford Tigers from the Super League 23-16. Rovers reward for the win is a visit from Wigan in the fifth round.
The Fev game was on Sky, who this season are sharing the live TV coverage with the BBC. They took a chance on the magic of the Challenge Cup and won. The BBC opted for the ‘safer’ clash of Widnes against St Helens.
The Challenge Cup is the one time live games are shown on free-to-air TV - it used to be two games a round now it’s one and shows that the BBC just don’t want rugby league.
The BBC is obviously happier enjoying a Pimms at Twickers or strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. At least national BBC TV turn up at some games - don’t hold your breath if you’re waiting for Radio Sheffield to spend a bit of our licence fee covering an Eagles game.
n The chairman of the RFL Richard Lewis is leaving at the end of the month - he won’t be missed.
A former Davis Cup player, Mr Lewis is going back to his spiritual home as chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis club at Wimbledon.
His legacy - the bungled Welsh experiment, professional clubs struggling to survive, question marks over Super League licensing and did you know there was a World Cup in 2013?
The Eagles had little to do with Mr Lewis – I don’t remember in his 11 years in charge he visited Don Valley.
Given British tennis’ dismal record Mr Lewis looks just right for the job.