These days I always regard the first week of the Rugby League season as being the weekend when the first round of the Rugby League Challenge Cup takes place.
And what a weekend it was, with a couple of fine Challenge Cup matches broadcast on Saturday afternoon.
First up was a thriller of a game broadcast on the BBC website when Orrell St James took on The Army in front of what looked like a packed crowd.
If you didn’t see the game, then I’m afraid you missed a treat. There was lots of skill, endeavour and commitment on show from both sides.
Orrell took a 10-0 lead early in the second half, but The Army fought back and eventually ran out worthy 18-10 winners. Their reward is a second-round match against The Royal Navy.
I fervently hope that someone televises that game, as unfortunately I won’t be able to get to it.
The second game that was broadcast on Saturday was the clash between Rochdale Mayfield and Wigan St Patricks that appeared on The Sportsman website and again the standard of play would have impressed any casual observer as Mayfield pulled away to win.
It was all great fun to watch and all the sides that played over the weekend should be congratulated, with the Galway Tribesmen deserving more plaudits than most, after their long journey to St Helens to play Pilkingtons and their strong showing that saw them leading at half-time before fading in the second half.
Their performance reinforces my belief that there would be a great payback for Rugby League if we were to invest strongly in the community game in Ireland.
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