Dave Craven: Castleford Tigers rewarded for standing up to Sale and Solomona

Denny Solomona.
Denny Solomona.
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RARELY can an RFL email have been greeted with as much widespread positivity than the one that landed in our inboxes at 6.18pm last night.

The governing body more often than not get slated for pretty much any statement they put out. It is almost inevitable.

And, ordinarily, around that time on a Friday evening, the RFL may release a missive if they have any bad news to bury given many papers may be well on their way to having their pages already planned for the following day.

Yet this was delightful news for everyone and, hopefully, the whole sport should have rejoiced at its contents.

“The Rugby Football League is pleased to learn that Sale Sharks have agreed to compensate Castleford Tigers substantially in respect of their former player Denny Solomona.”

Just 26 words to open things up before a more detailed summation but those 26 words were enough.

As everyone knows, in a move that still beggars belief, Solomona essentially walked out on his contract with Castleford last September to cross codes with Sale Sharks, the brazen Premiership rugby union, with sheer temerity, somehow believing they would not have to pay any sort of fee for Super League’s new record try-scorer.

Bizarrely, they argued he had “retired” from rugby league, opening up a whole can of worms but, worryingly, one they felt would squirm right back in their favour.

Sale were confident enough to face legal proceedings but this is where great credit must be given to Castleford, their chief executive Steve Gill, chairman Ian Fulton and board of directors who simply refused to bow.

Admittedly, Sharks have now eventually settled out of court paying Castleford more than £200,000 compensation with Tigers also recovering from the defendants – the club, agent Andy Clarke and Solomona – around £100,000 in legal costs.

But let’s not forget, Castleford are not a cash-rich club like Warrington Wolves or Wigan Warriors, backed by wealthy financial backers who can fund such legal procedures all the way to the High Court.

If they had not secured this settlement, and they had actually lost in court, it could quite conceivably have left the West Yorkshire club on the brink of financial ruin.

For all the rest of rugby league applauded them for standing up for the sport, and fighting this cause to ensure other star players are not allowed to simply walk away in this manner, it is hard to believe those same well-wishers would have been there helping them pay the shortfall in that worst-case scenario.

Having personally read the legal papers and emails from Sale’s director of rugby Steve Diamond, the utter arrogance of the wealthy Premiership club thinking they could just trample all over Tigers truly has to be seen to be believed.

Clearly, Solomona was badly advised – there is a way to leave a club and this wasn’t it.

That said, some cynics will argue he wasn’t badly advised at all as he is now earning far more playing for Sale and also England, of course, having debuted on the current tour of Argentina.

Whatever, good luck to him. He is a brilliant player who will no doubt continue to flourish in union. However, looking at the bigger picture, dignified Castleford have ensured union clubs won’t dare adopt such shameful tactics in the future; there is always a price to pay.