Sky Sports raised eyebrows earlier this week when they confirmed their televised Challenge Cup game would be between Batley and Featherstone Rovers.
Admittedly, the fifth round draw didn’t provide us with any mouthwatering ties, but usually in these situations, the broadcasters will pick the clubs with the biggest fan base, an example of this being Manchester United’s 51-game streak of televised games in the FA Cup.
So, Sky’s decision to televise the all-Championship tie is huge praise to the two clubs involved, and also to the progression of the Championship. The competition was dealt a blow when Premier Sports discontinued their weekly coverage of the competition, and it’s a shame that it doesn’t get the same exposure now the standard has increased.
However, if the lure of a game between the two West Yorkshire sides is appealing, then hopefully it can be the start of more Championship Rugby League embracing our screens in the near future once again.
With no disrespect intended, the Bulldogs and Rovers are by no means the biggest pulls in the Championship; with Leigh and Bradford more well-known across larger circles.
However, the progression the two have made this year has been rewarded, and rightly so; everyone knows about Batley’s stunning ascent up the Championship while Featherstone have gone about their business quietly and haven’t lost since playing the Bulls on the opening day of the Championship season. Jon Sharp has done a tremendous job since taking over at the end of last season.
The two teams have played each other already this season, with Batley’s only defeat this year coming against Fev, so there’s even a bit of a plot involved too.
It has the makings of a classic, and for the sake of the Championship, let’s hope that is the case.