CRAIG FARRELL’S COLUMN - Opening Knight for Liam


First this week, news of a young, local player, taking his first steps into the professional ranks.

Scarborough Pirates under-17s player, Liam Braithwaite has signed for York City Knights under-18s after impressing in a series of trials.

Former Filey School pupil Liam has been travelling to York and Wakefield every week in order to earn his place at the Knights and his Pirates coach, Keith Paddock is delighted with his progress, saying;

“Obviously I am really proud of what Liam has achieved. He’s a real hard worker with a great passion for the game and he always gives his 100%.

“Liam really lifts the team with his powerful drives and brutal tackles, and I’m especially pleased with his effort as he travels to Wakefield every Saturday to train for the Knights and then he still turns out for Pirates on a Sunday.”

Liam’s first game for York City Knights under-18s is tonight and I’m sure all my readers will join me in wishing him luck and hoping that he can go on to forge a career in the game.

In 1996 Wigan took part in a unique two-game, cross-code series against Bath, with one fixture played under rugby league rules, and the other match under rugby union rules at a packed Twickenham.

Seven years later St Helens took on Sale in a similar contest, however this time it was literally a game of two halves, 40 minutes of rugby union followed by 40 minutes of rugby league.

(For a bonus point, name the cross-code legend that played in both, representing both codes in doing so? The answer is at the end of this week’s column.)

I reference these games as it emerged this week that Leeds Rhinos may also, at some stage in the near future, dip their toes into the cross-code waters, as a hybrid game against Leicester Tigers has been muted by Rhinos’ chief executive, Gary Hetherington.

Under the proposed rules the match would work thus; rugby league would be played while a team is in their own half (and with possession of the ball), then switch to rugby union rules when they cross into their opponents’ half of the pitch.

My personal view is that a fixture such as this holds little value and can all too easily become akin to P.T. Barnum’s bearded lady; considered something of a freak show, albeit one which causes a furore and which the masses pay to see.

I suspect – and this is in no way meant disrespectfully towards Gary Hetherington as he is a rugby league man with the good of the game and particularly his club at heart – that to an astute business man such as Gary Hetherington, causing a furore and generating interest, ergo money, is the point entirely of a fixture such as this.

The match itself, would, I suspect, be extremely confusing for the players, particularly if a break was made down field and a switch in rules happened literally from one tackle to the next.

As someone who plays both codes of rugby I know that although many of the basic elements of the game are the same; handling, tackling, angles of running, and general defensive shape, but ultimately they are two completely different games.

A match like this would put bums on seats and attract sponsors and a large television audience. It would also offer one set of fans bragging rights as to whose game is the superior code. But that, as far as I can tell is all it would offer.

If rugby league wants a mid-season showcase to enhance and develop the game, a State of Origin type series, properly structured, marketed and given time to be suitably developed over a number of years, is surely the way forward.

This type of series would provide tough competition for the country’s top players in preparation for international duty, thus strengthening the England side in the process and enabling us to challenge Australia and New Zealand consistently.

A money-spinning, media garnering, cross-code game, is, I’m afraid, a nonsense, and of no benefit to the game of rugby league as far as I am concerned, although I may be convinced otherwise.

Last, but certainly not least, huge congratulations to Saints legends Steve Prescott and Paul Sculthorpe on completing their epic Paris to London challenge on Sunday, raising over £18,000 in the process.

It was a truly heroic effort from both men, with Prekkie even breaking his marathon PB in London on Sunday, a remarkable achievement given the exertions of the previous eight days.

If you haven’t already done so, please spare whatever you can at in support of their incredible effort.

Rugby League Tweet of the Week


“Just for home & hit the pit. Ouch muscles aching, 5 blisters, 2 broken toe nails, chaffing rash & sun burn not bad for 1 day #wellworthittho”

Answer to the cross-code teaser: Jason Robinson (Wigan and Sale).