So after months of waiting around for the new season to begin, it finally has! The problem is, the way it has begun just doesn’t feel satisfactory. I’m not talking about the standard of games here, as I thought the teams all performed about as admirably as could be expected from their first competitive hit-out (with the exception of Wigan). My problem is with the actual structure of the competition which has meant that this opening weekend offered us only three games, one of which got called off.
I understand the practical reasons for this staggered start (Leeds and Harlequins need to play Manly, Wigan need a weekend off for maintainance at the JJB later in the season) but it’s just led to the other eight teams (and their fans) twiddling their thumbs (indeed, we’ll now see what would’ve happened to Quins-Bradford if they weren’t originally allowed to move to the opening weekend). With only four teams in action, it just doesn’t feel like the season has properly begun yet and is not the way to attract concentrated attention to the sport in a competitive February of sport which saw the omnipresent Premier League football continue, the start of the Rugby Union Six Nations and a disastrous defeat to the West Indies by the England Test Cricket team.
In terms of gaining attention, the best thing would be a return of the World Club Challenge to its spot as the opening game of the season, but because of the demands of the NRL and its starting in mid-March that’s unlikely to happen (although if it ever got held in Australia, that could help things…). Even so, it’s not a difficult problem to solve: move the whole round scheduled on the weekend of the World Club Challenge to the opening week, and make the WCC weekend a bye-week for Super League. That means that a) we get a full Super League programme to get all the clubs involved from the start and b) the Rugby League viewing public don’t have anything competing for their attention on the weekend of the World Club Challenge. There, problem solved. Next up: war and famine.