Gareth Ellis – Disappointing scenes on and off the field in Perpignan are bad for the game

YP columnist Gareth Ellis is tackled by Wigan's Sam Powell.' (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
YP columnist Gareth Ellis is tackled by Wigan's Sam Powell.' (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
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EVERYONE WHO loves rugby league will have been upset by the scenes in Perpignan at the weekend.

I didn’t catch the game, but I flicked my phone on on Saturday night and saw a lot of comments asking ‘what’s going on at Catalans’? My first thought was there must have been a shock result or something like that, but then I saw a few videos, mainly of the stuff going on in the crowd.

Hull's Gareth Ellis drives for the Wigan line on Thursday night.' (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Hull's Gareth Ellis drives for the Wigan line on Thursday night.' (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Straight away you are really disappointed because I have always thought it is quite a carnival atmosphere when teams have gone over to France in their numbers.

It is almost like everyone’s on holiday and the game is a little bit of a bonus. The last thing you expect, there or at any rugby league match, is fighting in the stands.

The really disappointing thing for me was turning on breakfast television on Sunday morning and on loop you get those videos constantly being shown every hour and the headlines are everything that’s bad about rugby league.

That is quite upsetting to see; we are trying to raise the profile of the game and show everyone what a fantastic sport we have – on and off the field – and that is what people are waking up to.

The really disappointing thing for me was turning on breakfast television on Sunday morning and on loop you get those videos constantly being shown every hour and the headlines are everything that’s bad about rugby league.

Gareth Ellis

Having not seen the match between Catalans and Warrington I’m not going to comment on what caused the trouble, but I do think players have a responsibility.

Ultimately everyone is responsible for their actions and behaviour, players on the field and supporters in the stands just as we all are in your day to day life. Sometimes what happens on the field can affect what happens off it.

Tempers can boil over on the pitch and from the reports I have read there were a few incidents during the game and several sin-binnings, plus some red cards at the end. It sounds like things built up during the 80 minutes and at the end it all spilled over.

Unfortunately, when there’s a large number of people in a stand it doesn’t take many to over react and you get problems. The worrying thing for Warrington is there could be some real ramifications for the big game at Wembley in a couple of weeks’ time.

Sometimes teams can slip up when they start thinking about finals, but I think in this case they haven’t been thinking about it enough.

They are going up against the best team in the competition and they can’t afford to have fit players sat in the stands.

The other thing about Saturday’s events is they have overshadowed St Helens winning the league leaders’ shield. Warrington losing at Catalans means Saints can’t be caught with five games left and that is a feat in itself, but I haven’t seen too many people mention that.

Finishing top is an outstanding achievement for any team, but to do it so early is remarkable and very deserved. It has been a while since a team has been as much of a stand-out as Saints have this year. They are playing above everybody else and that’s why they have sealed the shield so quickly.

I think from a Hull point of view – and I’m sure everyone else will be the same – we are hoping because they’ve not been in the Grand Final for a few years and some of the lads in that team have never played at Old Trafford hopefully they will come unstuck, but you wouldn’t bet against them at the moment.