A Grand day out
Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood hailed Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championships Finals Day as one to remember.
It certainly will be for supporters of Sheffield Eagles, Rochdale Hornets and Leigh Miners Rangers after their victories in the triple header at Leigh Sports Village.
The Eagles’ comeback win over Batley meant they became the only club to win back-to-back Grand Finals at this level, and our congratulations goes out to all at the Sheffield club, whose history and development over the past 13 years, since they were re-formed, has been one of the great success stories of Rugby League.
Long may their progress continue, along with the work the club has been doing in helping develop young talent in the South Yorkshire area and the Midlands over recent seasons. They deserve all the support that the RFL can give them.
There was no promotion for the Eagles, and none was expected, though Rochdale clinched promotion from Championship One with a 32-18 defeat of local rivals Oldham in the Play-off Final. Congratulations to them too.
Onlookers still find it confusing that they are not champions by virtue of winning a final, but Sheffield are, North Wales Crusaders already having been crowned Champions by finishing as the top team in the Kingstone Press Championship One.
That made promotion a more comfortable ride for Crusaders fans, but conversely it denied them the chance of a day out at a Grand Final and the exhilaration of winning on such a big stage.
The existence of two different systems is an anomaly and it can’t be beyond the wit of man to come up with a finals day that involves two genuine Grand Finals.
Or even three – the opening game, in which Leigh Miners Rangers won the Rugby League Conference Challenge Trophy Final with a 42-14 victory over Wigan St Patricks, being the final of a straight knockout Cup competition. Congratulations to Leigh Miners Rangers too.
Which brings us neatly to this Saturday evening at Old Trafford. We had to rack our brains to try and remember when Wigan-Warrington games weren’t rip-roaring, and we expect nothing less on Saturday. And, without a shadow of a doubt, it will be a true Grand Final to decide the true Champions of Super League XVIII.
The best of luck to both clubs.