Dave Craven: Forget Storm Doris, Wigan have created their own storm

Wigan Warriors' Sean O'Loughlin lifts the 2017 Dacia World Club Series trophy.
Wigan Warriors' Sean O'Loughlin lifts the 2017 Dacia World Club Series trophy.
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IT WAS great while it lasted wasn’t it?

Super League beating those pesky irritants from the NRL so impressively last weekend saw the competition here rightly basking in glory.

The manner of wins by Wigan Warriors and, in particular, Warrington Wolves over Cronulla Sharks and Brisbane Broncos should have left a warm afterglow that lasted for months or at least until the World Cup in October.

Dubai? Solomona? Bradford? Forgotten almost overnight.

However, within just five lousy days, Super League somehow found itself immersed in yet another farcical, embarrassing fiasco which would be humorous if not so worryingly damaging.

All too often, the words “only in rugby league” are thrown out but even by the sport’s standards, the events surrounding Wigan’s bizarre postponing of Friday night’s game against Widnes Vikings remain utterly ridiculous.

For those who missed all the shenanigans – and a lot did occur during an astonishing 24 hours or so – Wigan are now under investigation by the RFL having announced on Thursday night they had decided to postpone Friday’s home game with Widnes.

Warriors’ chairman Ian Lenagan said, after the effects of Storm Doris, the DW Stadium pitch was unable to support two games in 24 hours with fellow tenants Wigan Athletic due to play a Championship football game on Saturday afternoon, too.

He added: “With Wigan Athletic’s season at such a critical stage and after detailed discussions between myself and Wigan Athletic chairman, David Sharpe, it was agreed they need to play this fixture more than we need to play ours.”

This is unusual enough but it appears Wigan, in all their wisdom, incredulously, failed to actually consult Widnes or even the governing body before making this decision hence the current investigation for “potential breaches of operational rules.”

Now, of course, Lenagan has had his run-ins with RFL chief executive Nigel Wood before and has his own strong opinions of how the game should be run but this is scarcely believable. However, barely 17 hours after that statement, it was confirmed the game would be on – at Widnes.

Wigan, newly-crowned World Club champions, had agreed to compensate their rivals for a loss of commercial revenue as Widnes, to their immense credit, strived to make it possible to stage the game at such late notice.

Pity those Vikings fans who could not attend and already had alternative plans but – given the difficulty in finding space to accommodate the fixture later in an already congested calendar – you can understand Widnes’s desire to get the match on. Anywhere.

They reduced prices to a flat rate of just £10 with Under 16s free and the game, on their artificial surface, went ahead.

But what a sorry mess created by Wigan. Once more it begs the question what is the point of clubs calling their impressive all-seater modern stadia ‘home’ if they are not even able to play there when they desire?

The RFL are not to blame either but, for them, that only makes the situation all the more annoying given how much kudos they had received for last weekend’s success against the Aussies.

One thing is certain; they must come down hard on Wigan for this act if they are, indeed, found guilty of flouting the rules.

Furthermore, even the diplomatic skills of Kevin Sinfield might not be able to mediate and smooth over the fall-out of this excruciating embarrassment.