In a desperate bid to arrest an ailing interest in this year’s F.A Cup the sport’s governing bodies have taken the unusual step of matching up a rugby league side with Bolton Wanderers in one of the semi-finals.

After the two Manchester clubs were paired up to meet in the corresponding clash the head honchos at the F.A were concerned about the complete apathy that may arise from having two middling Premier League teams playing barely palatable football in an attempt to ultimately claim their place as this years valiant runners-up.

So, contravening every rule in the book, the suits in Soho Square have surreptitiously replaced one of them for Stoke Bruisers, a successful rugby outfit who are no strangers to Wembley having appeared there previously in the Challenge Cup.

Although the sport played on April 14th will be football for both halves it is hoped that the novelty of seeing a rugby team face a soccer XL in a ‘Battle of the Sports’ one-off will help draw a noticeable audience.

A source within the F.A confided to us, ‘Nobody would have tuned in otherwise. We had to do something drastic because the competition is dying on its arse with most of the big teams out and the only two decent sides left are facing each other in one of the semis. At first we considered a football/cricket mash-up but that would have just been silly. So rugby it was. We chose Stoke because at least two of their players are under six foot four. The rest are beasts but that can’t be helped.’

One of the ‘beasts’, prop forward John Walters is delighted at the opportunity to pit his burly wits against a bunch of ‘fancy-dan’ footballers on such a big stage.

‘We’ve promised to keep within the rules of the game….and who knows, we might even play it on the deck at times just for kicks….but mostly we’ll be keeping to what we know best: getting the ball out of touch as close to the try-line as possible then getting our scrum-half Delap to hurl it in for our pack of forwards to create some serious carnage. Those sissy Bolton girls won’t know what’s hit them.’

The imposing Stoke Bruiser's scrum in a recent encounter with St Helens.

Not everyone is happy with the F.A’s decision however. Bolton Wanderers chief executive Barry Flook declared it ‘a fucking outrage’, whilst midfielder Matthew Taylor was equally forthcoming in airing his displeasure.

‘They are making a mockery of a fine sporting competition. The Trotters have not reached the semi-final of this tournament in my lifetime but, because the moneymen are fearful of no-one turning up, the idiots have lined us up against a bunch of hairy-arsed egg-chasers’.

‘One of the greatest days of my career has now been devalued to a version of Its A Knockout’ he added sadly.