Rugby League: Wigan tie creates chaos

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The Independent Online
ANOTHER meeting in what is becoming a season-long series between Wigan and Hull threatens fixture chaos for the New Year.

Hull, the only side to win at Central Park in the league this season, have been drawn there in the semi-finals of the Regal Trophy, just as they have in the preliminary round of the Challenge Cup on 17 January.

Because Bradford Northern and Widnes still have to resolve who will meet Castleford in the other semi-final, Wigan and Hull will play in the first semi on 2 January.

This means that Wigan's New Year games against Warrington and Bradford and Hull's against Hull Kingston Rovers and Wakefield will have to be re-arranged.

The threat of more of the freezing weather that saw the Bradford-Widnes match postponed on Sunday means the game is looking at its most serious fixture pile-up for years.

Bradford hope to be able to stage the tie against Widnes on Wednesday night, but the Rugby League has told them that it must be played by 29 December, even if that necessitates it being switched to the heated pitch at Headingley, or to Valley Parade, the covers from which failed to save the match at Odsal on Sunday.

Hunslet, who refused to play at Batley on Sunday despite the ruling of the referee, Steven Cross, that the pitch was fit, will have their case heard by the League's board of directors on 5 January. The League's rule is that teams must obey a referee's decision on playing conditions, even if they disagree with it, and Hunslet could be fined up to pounds 2,000.

Kevin Ward, sent off playing for St Helens against his old club, Castleford, on Saturday, has had his disciplinary hearing brought forward 24 hours to tomorrow afternoon. That will give Ward time to appeal against any ban before the holiday fixtures.

Garry Schofield, the Great Britain captain who is in dispute with Leeds over his plans to turn out for Manly this summer, fears that his chance to play for the Australian side may have gone.

The Manly coach, Graham Lowe, is looking for an alternative signing rather than entering into an argument with Leeds and other Australian clubs are finalising their squads for the coming season.

Schofield's lawyers are threatening to sue Leeds for compensation and the club's directors will discuss the matter today.

REGAL TROPHY DRAW Semi-finals: Wigan v Hull (2 January); Bradford Northern or Widnes v Castleford (9 January).

Sophie's choice, page 25