Cross code kickabout? Another one?

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IT was interesting to see the Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, the closest thing rugby league in this country has to a genuine innovator, talking about a potential cross-code challenge this week.

The rumours, and for the moment that’s all they are, have linked the Super League champions with a potential challenge match against the 15-a-side giants Leicester, with Arsenal’s rather splended Emirates Stadium being touted as a potential venue.

The game would apparently be played under some ‘hybrid’ rules, drawn up in Australia that involve playing to league rules coming out of your own half, with the kick-and-clap regulations taking over when you cross the halfway line.

I must admit, when I read that I had to check it wasn’t April 1.

I remember all too well the Wigan-Bath clash in 1995, which saw the two all-conquering teams of their era meet at Maine Road and Twickenham for a two-stage one-game-of-one-one-game-of-the-other encounter.

Both sides won ‘their’ half; Wigan rather more convincingly, as I recall, with the Central Park club, who fielded a young Andy Farrell, withdrawing a few star names early as the century loomed into view.

It was all very entertaining, but at the same time, a little pointless.

It proved nothing to the people on either side of the fence who think t’other code is a tory sporting spectacle.

So while I can see the commercial attractions of doing some kind of re-run, the jangling of tills is surely its only merit.

If I want to watch union, I will*; if I want to watch league, I will.

What I don’t need to see is the two games mashed together in a gimmicky concoction strongly resembling chalk and cheese.

*I don’t.

I WAS pleased to see the former Wales international Ian Watson awarded a testimonial this week.

Watson, who played for Halifax during the reign of Martin Hall, who he also served at Rochdale, was never the fastest or most crowd-pleasing of half backs.

But he had a fine kicking game, was tough as old boots - as 18 years as a professional is testament enough to that - and, when he had a platform to work from, knew how to put a plan into action.

He was also a consumate professional when it came to his off-field commitments; a quality he shared with several of those players who starred for Hall at Hornets - Paul Smith, Dave Larder and Damian Ball - before reconvening, by one route or another, at the Shay.

I once met Watson at the Eccles amateur club, where he cut his rugby league teeth in the noisy shadow of the M60 motorway, for an interview and was struck by his enthusiasm as he talked about the signed and framed shirts that decorate the club house wall.

I suspect it is that passion for the game, as much as his physical talent and the lure of a wage packet, that lie beind his longevity.

We could do with a few more like him.