Woeful Challenge Cup Quarter-Final draw shows state the prestigious competition is in

EAGLE-EYED listeners – yes, not viewers – will have tuned in to BBC Radio 5 Live last night to hear the Challenge Cup Quarter-Final draw.

Scheduled for 8.45pm, the attention didn’t turn to rugby league until 8.52pm with presenter Alistair Bruce-Ball deciding to gossip about football kits and early football goals with guests and Luton Town stars Andros Townsend and Tom Lockyer.

That program began at 7pm, with 105 minutes being dedicated to the round ball game before attention should have turned to rugby league for a 15-minute cameo.

The fact that such a small cameo was condensed to just eight minutes was amateurish at best and shows just where the Challenge Cup ranks in terms of importance in the rugby league and sporting world.

A radio slot so late in the day already rankled rugby league fans with questions as to why the draw was not concluded at the end of Catalans Dragons’ victory at Halifax Panthers last Sunday – when all eyes would have been focused on the potential mouthwatering draws at stake.

Instead, rugby league was taken back to the 1920s before television was invented – in fact, the first regular television broadcast began in the UK in 1936 as a public service which was free of advertising, which followed the first demonstration of a transmitted moving image in 1926.

Almost 100 years on and there was no allotted television time for a competition that continues to lose its importance.

Why wasn’t the draw televised? Why were two darts players – Michael Smith and Joe Cullen – doing the live draw?

Fair enough, they are rugby league fans and Smith has been in the rugby league eye in recent years with his support for boyhood club St Helens, but would you get British tennis legend Andy Murray picking out the balls for the FA Cup Quarter-Finals?

Forgotten and pushed to the back end of a football show demonstrates where the Challenge Cup is in terms of its status – let’s hope IMG can go someway to turning that reputation around.

The Quarter-Final ties are:

St Helens v Warrington Wolves
Hull KR v Leigh Leopards
Catalans Dragons v Huddersfield Giants
Castleford Tigers v Wigan Warriors

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