One of the pleasures of sport is a malicious delight in the travails of your nearest rivals. Swinton won 14-12 today in a tense match played in foul weather. Despite dominating possession and territory, a determined Hunslet side led for most of the match. A late try finally gave the Lions a deserved win to put us in a play-off spot. However, the big news of the day was Hull Kingston Rovers' amazing victory in the Hull derby. Why? It meant that Salford are relegated.
There was more to it this time than local rivalry. First, as a resident of Hull, I am delighted to see both Hull clubs in Super League. The East Hull club, Rovers, have had a bit of a raw deal as financial crisis took them down to the old Third Division. Meanwhile Hull FC were rescued from their troubles by a 'merger' with the Gateshead Thunder club, whose backers were not able to make it pay after one year. Then they had a new stadium built by the council to house themselves and Hull City, whilst Rovers still struggled. Now the two teams are back with the same ferocious rivalry that dominated Rugby League in the early 1980's .
However, most important of all, this is one in the eye of the opponents of promotion and relegation as, once again, the promoted side has stayed up (see my April post). Not that it will make much difference, Rugby League seems determined to press ahead with a franchise system for the top division. Many of the Rugby League's dafter schemes end up short-lived, I hope this goes the same way.