Roll-up, Roll-up, the playoff circus is coming to town.

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Two intriguing, if slightly disturbing, press releases crossed my email in-tray today.

The first, from Hull KR, proclaimed that playoff tickets had smashed the 5,000 barrier. Now, the Robins aren’t a small club and that smacks of ‘dog bites man’ no-news to me. But eager fans needn’t worry, there are still tickets available in the North, South, East and er, West stands; so that would be pretty much everywhere then?

No offence, Craig, and it’s only my personal opinion, but this is such a retrograde step. If we need gimmicks like this to sell playoff rugby then something is very seriously rotten with the state of our game.

The second item, from the Rugby Football League, was also playoff related. And it too exuded more than a whiff of, if not desperation, then perhaps blind optimism. Here is an extract from the release which (proudly?) proclaimed the ridiculous chicanery that is ‘club call’, whereby the League Champions, Leeds Rhinos, get to choose who their rivals, St Helens, will play in their playoff semi-final.

Craig Spence, the RFL’s Communications Manager, said:

“Sunday’s ClubCall announcement is the most eagerly anticipated piece of news in Rugby League since last year’s licensing announcement and has already generated a significant amount of interest.

“Each position in this year’s eight team play-off comes with a reward and there is no greater reward for topping the league and winning your first play-off game than being able to choose your semi-final opponents.

“The excitement ahead of Sunday is growing each day and it is proving to be a real talking point amongst supporters, players, officials and the media. Sunday will be a great day for the sport.”

No offence, Craig, and it’s only my personal opinion, but this is such a retrograde step. If we need gimmicks like this to sell playoff rugby then something is very seriously rotten with the state of our game.

Sadly we can no longer hide this embarrassing incident behind the indifference of national media, because as the press release announces:

“Sunday’s historic ClubCall announcement where Leeds Rhinos will choose their semi-final opponents in the engage Super League play-offs will be broadcast live on both Sky Sports News and BBC One’s Super League Show at 1.30pm.”

Get ready for a toe-curling weekend of embarrassment as the sport is towelled in the press.

Or hey, maybe it is just me.

Maybe it’s okay that teams get to choose who they play … based on who has most injuries or who will bring the most revenue or who matches up best against the other semi-finalist.

Just wake me up when it’s all over. Next thing you know they’ll be inviting Stuart Hall to commentate on the draw. Pity Eddie Waring isn’t around to add some quaint colour commentary to the joker round.

Sheeesh!

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