Fewer Minutes Mattered Than Were Promised, Anticipated Or Delivered: A Super League XX Review
#EveryMinuteMatters is what was promised to us. EVERY MINUTE. It was always a bold statement, but few could have anticipated the glorious moments Super League XX delivered on and off the pitch.
Eddie’s mind blowing casual racism in the world club challenge; Leeds last gasp league leaders triumph over the Giants; Jimmy Lowes on camera meltdown after realising none of Bradford Bulls minutes mattered in 2015. This season had it all…
The season proper kicked off with the arrival of Wayne Bennett (for 24 hours) and Russell Crowe (apparently involved with Souths, if you hadn’t heard?) for the newly formatted World Club Challenge designed to give 3 British clubs the chance to lose instead of just one. Wigan competed well, and we saw the potential of little George Williams for the first time, courtesy of a poor choice of underwear.
All 3 seized their opportunity though Saints delivered the greatest upset by losing by 34 points more than the bookies anticipated. (Gamblers Guide to the WCC)
The game highlight was provided by Eddie Hemmings however, who spotted Samuel L Jackson in the crowd, but mistook him for Lawrence Fishburn, to the outrage of the Twittersphere.
Meanwhile, minutes that mattered slightly less ticked over in Super League. Huddersfield performed their usual early season surge whilst Salford confirmed everything everybody already knew about Salford and sank like an overpaid, misguided, demotivated stone. Marwan, who clearly deserves more, was at breaking point:
I have had enough
— Marwan Koukash (@drmarwanK) February 12, 2015
Which went down well with ex-players, Nick Youngquest:
“@drmarwanK: I have had enough” hahaha! you're kidding right? Such an inspirational leader. Vomit.
— NickYoungquest (@Nick_Youngquest) February 12, 2015
and Ryan O’Hara:
Sadly, the Salford Red Devils (they were the original Red Devils don’t you know?) weren’t the only notable car crash of the season, but more of that later…
In the Championship, where good minutes would go on to provide bad minutes later in the year, ex-Wigan, Widnes, Paramatta (almost) and inevitably Salford bad boy, Gareth Hock, was making his mark on and off the pitch for Leigh Centurions. Like most well-balanced Rugby League folk, Hock frequently melts down on social media, often calling out fans to see if they want a bit of a roughhouse. Earlier in the season, we were treated to this prose directed towards “@TommyyFroddyy”:
Meanwhile, down in London, Joey Grima was guiding the Broncos towards the 3rd eight, or whatever the one below the middle eight was called, before disappearing to host a reality TV show in Canberra. Or something like that. Either way, the relegated Bulls were making more of their minutes matter than the Broncos.
Worst tattoo in Super League is keenly contested every year. Brett Delaney took the money in 2013 with his cranial knuckle dusters:
Josh Charnley stole the 2014 award with abdominal ram’s skull late in the 2014 season:
He and Anthony Gelling tried to steal it in consecutive years with this double effort:
But ultimately there was no contest. Take a bow Ryan Bailey:
Over at Leeds, Kevin Sinfield shocked the South Stand faithful by defecting to the 15 man code, announcing his departure to Yorkshire Carnegie at the end of the season.
He was not the only defector. Back in Manchester, Kevin Locke was in a row over unpaid wages, only months into a new contract and was lured over the Pennines to join Wakefield, by the promise of ride in the coaches car. Tim Smith showed him the sights of Wakey, which took around 5 minutes (there are two train stations after all!), whereupon they hit Wetherspoons and never quite made it back in one piece:
Meanwhile, Dr Marwan Koukash continued to entertain all rugby league fans, perhaps with the exception of the handful of Salford Red Devils fans, by wearing an array of magical jackets, one favourite being the personalised Kooga jacket worn shortly after announcing a £1m deal with Underarmour.
Just when it looked like Marwan was about to do something sensible and sign dungeon personal trainer Bobby Goulding as the replacement head coach for Iestyn Harris, by now on sick leave, he held a press conference in which he swore a lot and promptly announced serial narcoleptic Tim Sheens was joining the club as Director of Rugby. Then swore some more.
The injury crisis at Salford led to a whooping by eventual treble champions, Leeds Rhinos. Brian McDermott used the press conference to denounce Koukash as an erratic embarrassment, which we’d fully endorse if it wasn’t such good entertainment. It was matched only by the player shortage at Hull FC, where Lee Radford was requesting a game of 7 a-side touch, shirts v skins.
Onto the Super 8s. So the top 8 clubs (the usual suspects) in Super League kept their points, whilst The RFL proved no minutes so far had actually mattered to Salford, Wakefield, Hull KR and Widnes, as they dropped into the middle eight stripped of points and fighting it out with Leigh, Sheffield, Bradford and Halifax for a place in the Million Pound Game.
#AskBlake proved an enormous success on Twitter as the ills of Thursday Night Super League were dismissed with a triumphant comparison to Premier League Darts. Ardent rugby league fans sobbed.
The Super 8s concluded with Leeds, Wigan and Saints in the top 3 again, proving the magical formula had worked. Castleford surprised everyone by competing for the 4th spot, before off field shenanigans took all the headlines after Justin Carney slipped and put his penis into Mrs Huby.
Poor old Fartown got dumped out of the play offs yet again, whilst Wigan slugged it out for a win over Saints and an opportunity to lose their 6th big match in two years. The Million Pound Game took centre stage first with Bradford winning the right to play off for the 12th place in Super League against Brian Smith’s drunken Wildcats.
Fittingly the prize money was worth more than the stadium in which the match was played, and there’s no need to watch the math to know the outcome. Just enjoy Bulls’ coach, Jimmy Lowes’, post match interview:
Leeds Rhinos went onto win Super League in a stirring Grand Final (and clench the treble), in front of a capacity crowd, proving the elaborate new structure meant no minutes really mattered any more than the year before. But at least England Rugby Union were involved in a non-contest down the road after being dumped out of the Rugger World Cup. And Slammin’ Sam was on his way home. Well to Sydney, but better Australia than Bath.
Man of Steel Awards
The honors went to:
Man of Steel: Leeds Rhinos’ persistent homophobe, Zak Hardaker
Coach of the year: Marwan badger, Brian McDermott
Super League club of the year: Leeds Rhinos.
Code-swapper Sinfield struck a blow for rugby league in coming 2nd in BBCs poorly titled Sports Personality of the Year. Perfectly validating the misnomer, Sir Kev came 2nd to the only candidate with less personality than himself, weasel-faced jock, Andy Murray. Still, nice to see the Beeb recognise rugby league once every 36 years.
It seems most fitting however to end with a little more controversy. Sinfield only coming second? Richie Mathers sacked by Broncos in a betting controversy, and promptly being appointed Player Welfare Manager at Warrington? No, more wife nabbing, this time courtesy of Brett Ferres. Well played, @RLBP_, well played.
Bringing us on to the only RL awards that matter, the GuyJest Rugby League man of the year. As keenly contested as ever, third place could not be separated and goes to the two drunk drivers with 856 votes each. Runners up, again without even a cigarrette paper to separate them, the two philanderers on 934 votes.
And the 2015 GuyJest RL Man of the Year, given approximately 93% of this article is about him and his comical administration, goes to Dr Marwan Koukash with 1217 votes. Marwan is shown picking up the RL Man of the Year trophy below, in Melbourne, thanks to our sponsors Emirates and AAMI, and had this to say: “It’s a huge thanks to every coach that’s worked under my regime for the short 2 years I’ve owned the club; Phil Veivers, Alan Hunte, Brian Noble, Iestyn Harris, Ian Watson, Tim Sheens, Sean Long, Martin Gleeson and I’m sure Bobbie Goulding was employed somewhere along the line. Thanks to the CEO I replaced with myself, Martin Vickers. Most of all, the players that’ve made my job a breeze such as Rangi Chase, Tim Smith and Gareth Hock. Our target this year is to come bottom of the top 8 and after an unsettled couple of seasons I look forward to a bit of consistency and signings like Justin Carney should assist with that.”