The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final between the Cup holders St Helens and heroic Hull FC turned out to be a real thriller at Wembley this afternoon, with both sides sustaining a long list of injuries.
St Helens won the match, but their veteran Paul Sculthorpe had to leave the pitch even before the final strains of the National Anthem had died away. He had a painful dislocated shoulder.
Next was Hull's Richard Horne, who had just returned after being out injured for 4 months with a neck injury. He was immediately upended by two clattering tackles, before Tom Briscoe had to go off with an ankle injury.
It was then the turn of the Touch Judge, who had to retire from the fray just after halftime. He was finding the whole affair, "just too exciting".
Further injuries to Todd Byrne, ankle, and Danny Tickle, whole body, were sustained by Hull, and several fans in the stadium fainted due to a combination of the heat, the occasion and the expectation of more crunching tackles and injuries.
There were a reported 40,000 cases of 'Hurt Pride' amongst Hull fans, but, being made of granite, all are expected to recover.
Rugby, with its 'Most Physical Sport' tag, is, however, a gentlemanly sport, with each life-threatening assault on the person being immediately followed by a "Sorry, mate", and a polite inquisition as to the health of the assaultee.
Outsiders have claimed it is a game played by beer-swilling Northern gorillas with straw for brains, but this match showed the true skill, sportsmanship, and resistance to potentially career-ending serious injuries, that rugby players possess.