I was at Headingley yesterday. A crowd of nearly 21,000, bigger than those at three Premiership football matches, turned up to watch a triple header of lower division Rugby League. The National League finals is now one of the great days out that the RFL do really well.
None of the matches produced the close contests they promised but there were fine skills on display, especially as Castleford battled Widnes for a place in next year's Super League.
Watching the games, perched high in the new stand behind the sticks with a brilliant view, I was struck by how the standard is improving year-on-year. So why are the Rugby Football League trying to kill it? This is the last year of automatic promotion and relegation with a franchise system due to come in for next season. Instead of prowess on the field, the key to entry to Super League will be lobbying off it. Will grounds be filled to watch two teams play for little reward? I doubt it.
At least I can look forward to next Saturday's Super League Grand Final between Saints and Leeds. 70,000 should crowd into Old Trafford, but the fates are unkind to the 13 man game. It is the same night the rah rahs play their semi final against France. Expect a media blackout. Do we care? Yes we bloody do.