My conspiracy-theory filter went berserk when I read an official RFL press release earlier this week that began:
Rugby League fans have been warned to expect the unexpected this weekend when Huddersfield Giants, St Helens, Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors do battle for a place in the final of the Carnegie Challenge Cup at Wembley.
Whilst the quotes within the release were less dogmatic than that statement the tone of the release still had me checking the odds on a throwback final featuring the Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves (13/2 at William Hill).
The last time those two teams met in a Challenge Cup final was in 1933 when the old Wembley was still the new Wembley and the iron-men of rugby league would have sneered at the girly nickname culture that is Super League. Giants there may have been, but only the ones that knocked-off their day jobs to don the shirts and play for pride, sporting names like Dingsdale and Brogden and Shankland.
However, as it happens, that’s my final of choice this year anyway. Both teams are packed with triers and talent; whilst both have long-suffering fans who deserve at least a day in the sun. A win at Wembley would signal the arrival of a real challenger to the the dominance of Saints and Leeds too, which would be a massive bonus for the game. Oops there goes that conspiracy-theory filter again. I guess I watched too many X-Files (mi’ ma’ warned me about all that sci-fi stuff, it warps the mind).
So come on you neutrals get behind the underdogs and give them a boost. I can’t see any problem with the Warrington fans turning up at their beloved HJS in droves to back the Giants against their deadly nemisis, St Helens. But I’m having a harder time envisaging Widnes fans getting all warm and fuzzy at the prospect of backing the Wolves against the Wigan Warriors at the Stobart stadium.
Either way both games are set to be crackers … get there or tune in to BBC TV sports to see the action.