Parliamentary Rugby League Group hails Today’s Challenge Cup draw
The BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme, Today, hosted a live draw of the sixth round of the Challenge Cup this morning (21 April).
The draw, broadcast to three million listeners, followed a meeting in Parliament earlier this year with the Head of BBC Sport and the Chairman of the BBC Trust to discuss the corporation’s coverage of the game. It was conducted by veteran broadcaster John Humphrys and Challenge Cup hero Martin Offiah and overseen by rugby league commentator Dave Woods.
Immediately following the draw, Parliamentary Rugby League Group Chairman, Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, spoke of the importance of Today covering the sport and invited Humprhys and fellow Today host Justin Webb to join a journalists XIII to play against politicians’ team the Political Animals. The now traditional game see the victors hold the Communications Cup and is played under masters rules suited to players of vintage with different coloured shorts dictating levels of contact from full to touch.
Speaking after the interview, Mulholland said “It is a big step for Today to not only cover rugby league, but to host a Challenge Cup draw at this stage in the competition. I am very pleased they did and I’d like to thank Head of BBC Sport Barbara Slater and BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead for taking the time to speak to us in Parliament and for their role in Today’s landmark broadcast.
As well ties from the Parliamentary Rugby League Group, Mulholland presented Humphrys and Webb with shorts appropriate for their age group in masters rugby league (pictured). He continued afterwards, I’d also extend my invitation to John and Justin to all their journalist and broadcast colleagues at the BBC to take part in the Political Animals vs Journalists game for the Communications Cup.”
One of the Group’s founders, former Member of Parliament for Wakefield David Hinchcliffe, regularly writes to the BBC on its coverage of rugby league. Moments after the broadcast, he contacted the BBC and the Group to praise their work. In an email to the Group, he said “I commend the APPRLG and the RFL on getting the game on the Today programme this morning in such a wonderful way… Keep up the good work. You are all doing an excellent job!”
The sixth round of the Challenge Cup takes place 6-8 May and features some tantalising fixtures, two of which will be shown on BBC Sport:
Castleford v Salford
Oldham v Warrington
Dewsbury v Wigan
Batley v Catalans
Halifax v Widnes
St Helens v Hull FC
Huddersfield v Leeds
Wakefield v Toulouse