Speed and skill on show in top flight are a joy to behold

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THE standard of professional rugby league in this country gets better each year.

Covering Doncaster as I do in Championship One, I very rarely get the chance to watch any live Super League games so I have to settle for Sky’s excellent coverage.

I don’t always get the chance to do that but I can generally catch BBC’s Super League Show on Monday evenings around 11.30pm during the season.

The quality of the tries on Monday’s highlights programme was simply stunning. The pace of the game, the individual brilliance, the quality of the support play and handling skills was a joy to behold.

Whilst not of the same standard, the quality of rugby in both the semi-professional Championship and Championship One is still very entertaining and I was most impressed with Sheffield Eagles’ first half showing against the Dons in Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup Pool B game at the Keepmoat Stadium.

To score a point a minute at the same time as keeping a clean sheet, as Eagles did in the first half, takes some doing no matter who you are playing against and Tony Miller’s men aren’t a bad side.

I know money is tight for a lot of people but it’s only something like £12 to get in and most games at the Keepmoat Stadium provide real value for money.

Why not give the game a try on Sunday week when the Dons kick-off their Championship One campaign against a strong Whitehaven team?

Don’t expect to be able to identify most of the players, though. The white numbers on the back of the Dons’ new shirts make it an almost impossible task from the press box. It’s not just me saying so, it’s all the media.

Doncaster’s Stefy Bull never quite lived up to tag of being ‘another John Irwin’ in the ring, but he has proved to be a tremendous ambassador for boxing in the town for almost two decades.

Whereas Irwin won a Commonwealth Games gold medal as an amateur and both the British and Commonwealth featherweight titles and just missed out on the European crown as as a professional, Bull’s title successes were of a more modest nature. But he operated successfully at Central Area level for a number of years and played a vital role in keeping professional boxing shows alive in Doncaster due to his tremendous support.

He sensibly retired in his early thirties after 14 years as a professional.

But instead of just hanging up his gloves and living off his memories, Stefy is more involved in the sport than ever before.

In addition to helping train triple champion Jamie McDonnell, the best boxer to come out of Doncaster since Bruce Woodcock more than 50 years ago, Stefy is a licensed trainer and jointly runs a successful gym in Mexborough and has over a dozen fighters on his books.

He has recently been granted a promoter’s licence and he promotes his first show at the Dome tomorrow where the likes of Connor Nixon and Gavin McDonnell (Jamie’s twin) are in action.

WHO in their right mind would want to be a fourth official at a football match? Virtually every week at the Keepmoat Stadium, and other grounds all over the country, you see one or more managers, or members of their backroom staff, remonstrating with them.

It seems like every time they feel that the ref has got a decision wrong they take their frustration out on the fourth official, who must be among the most thick-skinned people on the planet.