Championship deserves a neutral Grand Final

Talking Rugby League with League Express editor Martyn Sadler

Last time we had a Grand Final in the Championship that would result in promotion to Super League was in 2007, on Sunday 7th October, to be precise.

The Grand Final was between Castleford and Widnes, and the game was held at Headingley in front of 20,814 spectators. The Tigers were convincing winners, 42-10.

I remember it as a great occasion and a template that should be followed in future when promotion was on offer to the Championship clubs.

Since then, however, we have veered away from that model.

And now the RFL is about to confirm that the Championship Grand Final this year will be played at the home of the club that finished highest in the league of the two clubs that qualify for that game.

That seems a ridiculous decision to me and it comes from allowing clubs to make the decisions, rather than the RFL making decisions for the good of the game.

The facilities at Headingley are second to none and it is now a much more impressive venue than it was in 2007. It would provide the best possible stage for the two teams battling for promotion to Super League.

On the other hand, we have to recognise that not all the clubs have grounds that are either suitable or have the capacity to stage such a big game.

If London Broncos finish at the top of the Championship, for example, are we going to play a Grand Final at the Ealing Trailfinders stadium?

It’s too ridiculous to even contemplate.

And what about if the Grand Final is in Toulouse, with all the potential Covid problems that could still be a factor by then in France?

It’s almost as though the clubs themselves don’t want their biggest game to be a massive event.

It seems crazy to me.

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