TODAY was never meant to pan out like this.

Catalans Dragons face St Helens in the first game of Super League for four-and-a-half months, on a weekend when Warrington Wolves and their army of supporters should have been visiting the south of France for a game always considered a highlight of the season’s calendar.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Guardian:

We’re celebrating 13 years of visits to Perpignan for the 13-a-side game with this gallery of pictures (above) of Wire fans enjoying the hospitality in Perpy, nearby Canet Plage and the popular Spanish resort Lloret de Mar from 2006 to 2019, hopefully whetting the appetite for future visits and lifting spirits of those who had been looking forward to some Mediterranean sun this week.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Guardian:

The coronavirus pandemic though, as we all know, has affected everybody’s lives and brought pain and suffering to many.

Sport clearly pales into insignificance when there are matters of life and death.

Yet professional sport, which has been badly hit financially by the impact of Covid-19 and the UK lockdown that it forced, does have its part to play in all of this.

The return of football on TV not too long ago gave many a focus they had lost, a fresh sense of anticipation and belonging, brought back some cheer and groans, some banter and amusement, realised and shattered dreams in equal quantities, and no doubt signalled a belief that the old ‘normal’ didn’t quite seem as far away as it had done for months.

But in Warrington, as well as the other towns and cities that boast top-flight rugby league clubs, Super League has been sorely missed.

A Rambo-style charge from Mike Cooper, a wondrous break from Blake Austin, a spectacular dive into the corner by Tom Lineham, a monstrous hit from Sitaleki Akauola. Yes, sorely missed.

For those who follow this magnificent sport with a passion, today’s matches and those in the weeks to come will be so uplifting after everything we’ve been through so far – even with being forced to watch on TV while the players do their thing in empty stadiums.

How Wire players intend to compensate for no fans in grounds

It keeps being said, but it’s so true, excitement levels are ‘like the first day back at school’ for the players and supporters of Saints, Catalans Dragons, Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants as they kick back into action today and catch-up on matches that had been postponed, before joining The Wire and the rest of their rivals in Round 8 next weekend.

We shouldn’t forget everything that’s gone into getting Super League back to this position today, not just the game’s and clubs’ administrators who have worked day and night and then some more, the players who put their hearts into keeping themselves in shape training on their own while placed on furlough, but also all of those who have put their bodies on the line in patient care and aiding the nation’s attempts to recover from the unprecedented situation.

And we won’t forget there will be some absent friends too, Super League fans who lost their battle with this horrible virus.

For them, as well as us, we have a duty. Let’s allow ourselves to become absorbed in the ferocity, courage and theatre that is Super League for a few hours and lose ourselves in a world that we knew and loved not so long ago and crave to be able to access again inside the grounds in the not too distant future.