Rugby league and BBC Sports Personality of the Year

SHOULD Kevin Sinfield go on to be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2015, he would achieve the type of recognition no other rugby league player has done before.
It is perhaps not surprising to hear no-one from the 13-man code has won the main prize at the Beeb’s annual end-of-year sporting review and prize-giving ceremony in its 61-year history.
That looks unlikely to change, at least if the bookies are to be believed, with most making tennis star Andy Murray odds-on favourite and the golden girl of British athletics, Jessica Ennis-Hill, also in contention.
Sinfield’s odds are hovering around 14/1, although even if he were to finish in the top three in the public vote it would be a breakthrough for rugby league as no other player has even managed that before.
The fact even darts – itself a sport which is persistently sneered at and looked down upon – got recognised when Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor finished second in 2010 after winning his 15th World Championship is more fuel to the fire for the rugby league conspiracy theorists.
Curiously, the only rugby league player who has been honoured in any sort of manner by the BBC is Mal Meninga, who was named Overseas Sports Personality of the Year in 1990 after captaining Australia on their successful tour of Great Britain in the same year.
The only other rugby league personality to be honoured at the event is another Australian, Daniel Anderson, who was named Coach of the Year in 2006 after guiding St Helens to the treble.
The all-conquering team which beat Huddersfield Giants in the Challenge Cup final, topped the Super League table and then went on to trounce Hull in the Grand Final were named Team of the Year too, completing a unique double award from the national broadcaster.
St Helens’ award was the first time in 12 years one of the sport’s sides had been honoured, following Wigan – pre-Warriors tag – being recognised arguably as much for their half-decade dominance of rugby league as their Stones Bitter Championship, Premiership and Challenge Cup treble.
It could be said Sinfield’s nomination this year is more a case of recognising an outstanding career after deciding to cross the divide to rugby union, rather than necessarily his performance throughout Super League XX.
After all, it was Leeds Rhinos team-mates Zak Hardaker (Man of Steel), Kallum Watkins (Leeds Player of the Year) and Adam Cuthbertson (Leeds Fans’ Player of the Year) who picked up individual honours following the club’s outstanding season.
Still, few would argue Sinfield deserves some sort of national accolade for his 18-year one-club career which saw him win seven Super League titles, three World Club Challenge crowns, two Challenge Cups, captain club and country with distinction, and retire with only Jim Sullivan and Neil Fox having scored more points.
Should Sinfield come in the top three it would be another proud moment for the 35-year-old, but it would also be a big step for rugby league as a whole to see one of its greatest ambassadors in recent years achieve recognition from the wider public.


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