The Magic Weekend. Etihad Stadium, Manchester. 26th & 27th May
SATURDAY 26TH MAY Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Wildcats 1pm Warrington Wolves v Widnes Vikings 4pm Hull FC v Hull KR 7pm
SUNDAY 27TH MAY Catalan Dragons v London Broncos 12pm Huddersfield Giants v Salford City Reds 2pm Bradford Bulls v Leeds Rhinos 4pm St Helens v Wigan Warriors 6pm
ADULT FROM £30 ADULT FROM £45 CONC. FROM £15 CONC. FROM £22.50
Tickets: 0844 856 1113 or www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.ukFordisabledenquiries,call08448561113
SPORT SHOULD BE SEEING THE BIGGEST RIVALRIES IN ONE PLACE
Sport as it should be #forty20 @forty20magazine
February 2012 Volume 2 Issue 2
Margin on together
Innovation. That seems to be the magic word, doesn’t it? If it isn’t Phil Clarke’s ‘Margin Meter’ - which has single-handedly made us realise that there’s no point watching the actual game at all now, since the outcome will be decided by a little ‘scientific’ arrow - it’s the iPitch.
Re the latter: have the human rights organisations been informed? Going by the Hammer horror-esque levels of blood and tattered skin on display in Super League’s opener, we’d rather be sent to Guantánamo Bay than Widnes. It all makes Clubcall seem positively Dickensian.
Sky do lots of great things for this sport and their 2012 schedule is heartening to say the least. A new Sunday night show; Brian Carney, Bazza and Tezza, Jon Wells on the red button; Eddie getting in the way of the after-match press conference; State of Origin; Bill Arthur blatantly hankering after a free trip to sunny Trondheim; Sam Tomkins as a new presenter; they’ve even got the first lady of rugby league - our very own Angela ‘Dancing Queen’ Powers. But enough with the daft gimmicks awready! What next? A phone-vote to decide the eventual champions?
Sadly, that mini-rant has left us with no room to discuss the RFL’s quietly revolutionary idea of letting headline sponsors pay bugger all; the purchase of Odsal Stadium; a players’ union called 1eague3; several rule changes; the return of the yellow ball and Monday night footy.
This would never have happened under Bill Fallowfield.
2012 also sees a couple of brand -spanking new stadiums in St Helens’ Langtree Park and the still-to-besponsored City of Salford Stadium. Dave Hadfield appraises ale-swigging possibilites at the former in his Good RL Pub Guide on page 45.
Monsieur El H’Annan, meanwhile, huddled in the shadows of Barton Bridge when the City Reds christened their venue with a return-the-favour friendly against Leigh Centurions.
Both are big improvements on the last dilapidated joint, but Langtree Park does swing it in the beauty stakes. Sadly for Salford, the history books will record a whupping by under-strength, coachless Championship opponents in game one. Not only that, but the lights went out. A sign of things to come? Hard to tell. Especially as the Reds also lost their Super League opener at a snowbound CoSS four weeks later.
One tip for nowt: make sure you are in the right lane when trying to leave the Salford City car park after a match. It’s absolute bedlam.
Super League launches come in all shapes and sizes, but seldom has one been as limp as 2012’s Old Trafford Truckfest. As ever, effervescent RFL Chairman Richard of Lewis managed to stay awake long enough to give a ‘rallying call’ to people who neither need nor want one - media, players, coaches. One coach summed it up perfectly: “Thank goodness we’ve got the rugby to look forward to.”
Not that the big day was entirely without thrills. At one point, the man on the mic grew quite animated by his standards and dissed 5live. Unlike the broadcaster, Lewis said, new sponsors Stobart were a ‘superbrand’, prompting quizzical looks all round.
As should be obvious by now, the Stobart approach to sponsorship is frugal. In the past, media wallahs have been showered with branded gifts including laptop bags, coats, memory sticks and razors. This year, Stobart handed out... a free carrier bag. “It’s not even a bag for life,” moaned one underwhelmed hack.
For all the leg-pulling, we are generally big fans of Tricky Dicky, although he hardly comes across as the most relaxed public speaker, does he? And his composure was certainly rattled when he spoke at the Parliamentary Rugby League Group’s annual dinner at the House of Lords on 31 January. Halfway through, several people got up and walked out. Was he really so dull? No. It turned out they were MPs needed for a House of Commons vote.
Inside your next generation rugby league monthly
Steve Prescott MBE 20 meets Angela Powers
5 Ian Millward
Andy Wilson’s monthly profile 7 Five Drives...and a kick 14 Hull look forward
Tom Briscoe and Shaun McRae 19 Pitch imperfect
Is Widnes the future? 28 Match of the month
Warrington down under
6 The Reality Is...
Brian Noble in Sydney 12 Louie’s Lip
The return of the Broncos 26 Penelope Davidson
Married to League 33 Richard Mathers 42 Christopher Irvine
32 London 36 Frankfurt
18 World Cup 30 North Wales Crusaders 40 Wakefield memories
Jack Gibson reviewed 44 Twitter 45 Good Pub Guide
Dave Hadfield in St Helens 46 Parting Shot
Wagons roll: The stars of Super League and Stobart truck driver Fiona Soltysiak line up at Old Trafford SWPix.com
February 2012 Forty-20 3