JAMES COLLINS: What next? Play second fiddle to tiddleywinks!

Challenge Cup Fourth Round - Rugby League'Sheffield Eagles v Wigan Warriors 'Richie Barnett outruns the warriors to score his first try
Challenge Cup Fourth Round - Rugby League'Sheffield Eagles v Wigan Warriors 'Richie Barnett outruns the warriors to score his first try
Share this article
Have your say

RUGBY League isn’t the nation’s No 1 sport. Some of us will dream that it is and ‘know’ that it should be.

How, even in rugby terms, the game plays second fiddle to the kick-and-clap lads is a mystery – well, maybe not with the suits at the RFL running the game.

But do we really need the BBC to rub league fans’ noses in the dirt? They seem to want to say: ‘rugby league’s a minority sport and don’t you people up North forget it’.

A few fans (and not just in Featherstone) wear flat caps but don’t the Beeb bosses know posh chaps and gals adopt similar headgear when they’re slaughtering birds on the ‘Glorious Twelfth’?

Last Saturday teatime Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors served up a thrilling sporting contest. If some of those who normally tune in for Bargain Hunt or Dad’s Army at that time had stayed to watch they would have been hooked.

Twenty-four hours later an equally tasty game between Warrington Wolves and Huddersfield Giants was on offer. Warrington won but it had its moments.

This is still the greatest cup competition in either code of rugby but the kick-off was delayed for 30 minutes – with the match preview consigned to the no-man’s land of the ‘red button’.

The BBC decided that it must wait until two men in sweaters that only your uncle would wear, finished pushing a ball into a hole in a Scottish field.

They may draft in Clare Balding - the nation’s favourite auntie – as presenter and chaperone for the ‘experts’ but you know the telly chaps really don’t want to be in Salford or Huddersfield.

It’s a good job that the golf didn’t go on much longer or some BBC jobsworth might have delighted in pulling the plug, as did the park keeper on ‘the Boss’ and Macca’s concert.

Okay, so maybe I’ve got a bad attack of ‘bunker mentality’ and should dust off the rugby league chip and haul it back on my shoulder.

But the game’s professional leagues are coming to an exciting conclusion and the Challenge Cup final has the makings of a classic. But even if the sun does finally come out, Rugby League is kept in the shade.

I know there’s a bit of competition. All the world’s real minority sports are taking part in McDonald’s/Coca Cola Games – sorry the Olympics.

The event that’s provided a personal job creation scheme for Seb Coe and made sure that all the people who ‘work’ in London will be stuck in traffic jams for weeks.

Rugby League will be back on the BBC (don’t expect any of those clever TV trailers to remind you of the date) for the Challenge Cup Final between Leeds and Warrington on Saturday, August 26.

Be warned. The BBC might delay the kick-off – I hear there’s a major tiddlywinks tournament about to reach a critical stage on that day.