Six memorable moments from Rugby League in 2018
- Written by Zack Wilson
Zack Wilson takes a personal look at six moments that will stick in the mind from the 2018 rugby league season in the northern hemisphere.
1. Rodolphe Pires goes crazy as Catalans claim the Challenge Cup
Catalans Dragons winning the Challenge Cup was one of the defining moments of rugby league in 2018. It was great to see the team from Perpignan become the first non-English winners of the Challenge Cup, and Tony Gigot to become the first Frenchman to take the Lance Todd Trophy. What made the moment even more memorable was the performance of the French commentary team, led by Rodolphe Pires, as the moments crept towards the final whistle. For sheer passion, it made the heart leap. You do not need to be able to speak French to sense the excitement and joy.
2. Steve Price punches the air in celebration against Saints
More passion was on display when Warrington Wolves beat St Helens to secure their passage to the Grand Final. Coach Steve Price was seen to punch the air in celebration after Tom Lineham scored a try against St Helens to seal to a place in the Grand Final. Price was like a breath of fresh air in Super League - a quirky character with a likeable, driven personality and real passion for the sport. We need more people like him in Super League right now.
3. Misi’s Mistimed Tackle
Possibly the most mistimed tackle in history was made in 2018, when Featherstone Rovers met Hull FC in the Challenge Cup. The game was a mess throughout, with player discipline appalling at times, with plenty of cards being dished out by the referee. But Taulapapa’s flooring of Jamie Shaul was the incident that really stood out. This was much more than a late or early tackle – it was like Taulapapa had just decided to smack someone, whether there was a game of rugby going on or not. Where the ball was in the air looked to be utterly irrelevant to Taulapapa’s calculations for how he was going to hit Shaul. The match official’s words of “it’s just a mistimed tackle” will surely go down in rugby league folklore, and be remembered for years to come.
4. Shaun Wane’s crowdsurfing Wigan celebrations
Shaun Wane is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it was great to see the coach celebrate with his players after winning the Grand Final at Old Trafford. The coach was filmed crowd surfing over his squad at one venue during the celebrations, a real sign of the way that his players love and trust him. The depth of the personal relationships that Wane built with the Wigan players is really striking, and brings to mind the spirit that Jose Mourinho built at clubs in the early days of his football coaching career. Those kind of bonds are hard to create in professional sport, and it will be interesting to see how those relationships develop now Wane has left the Warriors.
5. London win promotion in Wolfpack’s den
It was one of the lowest scoring games of the season, but London Broncos’ 4-2 victory over Toronto Wolfpack in Canada was one of the most arresting results of the season. The reaction of the players at the final whistle - a combination of exultant delight and surprise – was a great thing to see. It was also heartwarming to see coach Danny Ward barely able to contain his glee during TV’s post-match interviews. All the best to the Broncos and Ward for 2019, as one senses that they will need plenty of luck if they are to stay in Super League.
6. Snow on Wakefield and Widnes
Summer rugby is a bit of misnomer when it comes to rugby league. Yes, much of our season is played during the summer months, but it is only December and January when no competitive rugby league is played. One game which will live long in the memory, and certainly longer than the game itself lasted, is the Wakefield Trinity v Widnes Vikings Super League fixture from March 17. Heavy snow meant that the game was called off after just 27 minutes, begging the question as to why it was even allowed to start. Not that it affected Wakefield’s season too much. One of the league’s lowest spenders proved that sport is not all about money, and managed a highly commendable fifth place finish.