SOMETIMES you are reminded that rugby league is a tough game.
Sadly it is usually when a player is injured – and it comes home when you know the individual.
This is a tough, physical, contact game which takes courage and mental strength to play at both professional and amateur level.
It also provides some of the most thrilling and dramatic moments in sport. But when players cross the white line they are taking a risk.
That was brought home by the injury to former Sheffield Eagles player Tangi Ropati in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup.
In his two seasons at the Eagles, Tangi was massively popular becoming the club’s ‘pin-up’ boy and featuring on publicity posters for games.
The Samoan international’s current team Featherstone Rovers created the upset of the round in defeating Super League club Castleford Tigers.
Tangi scored Fev’s first try but he didn’t have much chance to celebrate. He was on his way to hospital, the victim of a challenge by Tigers’ England international Rangi Chase which broke Tangi’s jaw in two places and needed surgery to insert three plates and several pins in his face.
Chase was given a three-match ban by the RFL disciplinary panel. Tangi must face three months on the sidelines before he can play again.
Justice? Maybe not. Particularly when you consider that Tangi is on a visa that only allows him to earn money in this country from playing rugby league. It really is no play, no pay.
Rugby League people want to help and in response the Featherstone club has set up the ‘Tangi Ropati Support Fund’ with the Rovers’ players donating part of their winning bonus from the Cas game to launch it.
It’s time to remember the debt we owe to lads like Tangi Ropati. If you want to contribute the details are on the Featherstone Rovers website.
I’M no fan of the British obsession with giving people honours. But I will make an exception when it comes to Sheffield Eagles Hall of Fame that aims to honour players (and back-room workers) who have made a major contribution to the success of the club on and off the field.
The Hall hasn’t been open very long and only has seven members so the club is looking around to edge it closer to at least enough to fill a team sheet.
The names of the latest to join will be announced at a dinner to raise funds for the Eagles Rugby League Development Trust, which works with young players.
Guest speaker is former England Rugby Union and British Lions captain Bill Beaumont - who already has an OBE. You can book your tickets for the event on Wednesday, May 30, from the Eagles now.
I can reveal that the Hall of Fame choice is made by a committee of five chaired by Eagles deputy chairman John Whaling. I’m on the committee – so it’s four wise men plus one to hold the donkey…