Back from a small hiatus, where once again I have been on the road at a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was hoping to meet up with some of the Avalanche guys here but unfortunately scheduling we just couldn’t make it work. None the less, there is lots of news from Europe this week. The Czech’s have been active as have the Italians and in the UK the tri-county series has ended with Cumbria the winners!
The Pardubice Jets have become the 3rd CZRLA Championship team to win the League Leaders Trophy in 3 years. Pardubice secured the 2011 Minor Premiership title with a dogged 12-8 win over the fast finishing Prague Vikings in front of an enthusiastic home crowd in their final 2011 regular season match. The Jets, coached now by former captain Mirek Horacek, finished the regular season with 5 wins from 6 games, as well as being the leading Czech team in the Czech international 9s tournament held in Pardubice over the Easter long weekend.
In a reflection of the rapid development taking place within Czech domestic rugby league, for the first time a grand final game will take place between the 2 teams at the head of the Czech domestic Championship – Pardubice and the 2010 Czech Champions, Lokomotiva Beroun. The Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels finished their debut CZRLA season 3rd, with 3 wins from 6 matches, and Prague finished 4th, with 2009 CZRLA champions, Praslavice, and Chrudim not competing in the 2011 season-proper, but expected to join Brno and Hradec Kralove in the expanded 2013 CZRLA season.
Pardubice captain, Victor Leeuw, said of the milestone for the Jets: “I am very happy that we won the league leaders’ trophy, especially after a couple of nail-biting encounters with Beroun and Prague. It has been a difficult and competitive season, but the guys put in the hard work to see the team finish off in 1st place. It was also great to see a lot of the new players whom joined the club this season contribute a great deal to the success of the club. A thanks should go to the senior players as well, for making our jobs easier and guiding the new lads. The season is not over yet though, as we are still looking forward to capping off the season with a great performance in the Grand Final. Everyone who has been involved with the club this season has shown immense commitment.” Jets standout player on the day, Lukas ‘Steve‘ Bohm, was also exhultant about the club’s win in his first season of rugby league, enthusing that, “It is really great that Pardubice have won the title, and we will have a great party in celebration of that tonight. We are looking forward to another game with Beroun now though, to prove that we really are the best team in the 2011 Czech Championship.” Senior player, Roman Nedomlel, who scored a typically barnstorming try from 30 metres out against the Vikings also had the Grand Final with Beroun in mind, stating: “Even though the Jets have finished first, we have a 1-1 record against Beroun this season, so we are all motivated to finish the season with a Grand Final win against them!“
In another indication of Czech rugby league development, Pardubice’s final home match was complemented by a primary schools tag rugby league tournament involving 3 local teams, with Opatovice coming out on top with 2 wins from 2 matches, and Horni Jeleni finishing second with a win over the Pardubice juniors team.
The Italia RFL has been recognised by CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) as an official federal organisation and exclusive in promoting and developing Rugby League (or Rugby a 13) in Italy.
The Federation thus reaches the objective that had been set by the FIAG13 in 1960, recognition of the major Italian sports body, IOC member and an official in the sport life of our country. We collect the legacy of the pioneers of Italian 13 hoping to have better luck and to contribute to the growth of the code and Italian sport.
The acceptance of our request passes through the evaluation of the real forces on the field, teams and the number of participants involved and members licensed by a commission of the Committee. In the coming months the relationship between the Italia and CONI will lead to regular and full recognition of Rugby League as a Associate Sport Disciplines (DSA) as one of the federations affiliated to the National Committee. Our association reaches the 19 others in the same category: Associate Sport Disciplines with CONI alongside of sports such as Cricket, Handball, American football and Rafting.
The recognition will provide large government funding for the sport through CONI to further develop the senior competitions and deliver grassroots development for the code with years to come. As per the 2011 CONI Annual Budget, the funding contributed through government and entity revenue values was €259.486.547 for National Sport Federations (FSN) and €3.260.000 for Associate Sport Disciplines (DSA).
Our days of intensive work to prepare the statutes of our association to adhere to the laws and regulations that CONI provides for its members are recognised. The newly-elected president David Massitti said: “Achieving the official recognition by the Coni is an honor, as well as a turning point between the pure passion and the beginning of a much more serious and professional way, we will develop by following rules and strict methodologies. In all probability if recognition was the case with our predecessors in the sixties, perhaps the story would have been different. We now have the opportunity to continue from that point: Rugby League is a sport for the institutions themselves, certainly akin, but different from rugby union. The ability to access all facilities that the official recognition gives us will be a driving force for the development of our sport, the fact that the CONI (Olympic Committee) is an important member of the IOC and involved in the Olympics opens up a much larger scenario for the same discipline itself, not only for us. “
Italia RFL presented the Committee with evidence of work developed to date that had materialized in the first winter tournament that has ever been seen for Italian Rugby League since 1961, the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia), contested by 8 teams in the months of February and March and concluding in Rome, at the stage of Borghesiana with the victory of Etruschi Perugia. The Cup was followed by the Italian Championship, called r-Evolution League, played by five teams with a competition in the months of June and July which involved teams from North to South. The final played at the historic stadio dei Marmi in front of a good audience was won for the second time by Gladiators Roma.
The Italia RFL, pursuing the objective of a development that is the best possible, want to follow the guidelines of the European and International Federations, though there is no official recognition, as far as we can make our own, the spirit and the rules which are dictated by our bodies of reference: the CONI and, indeed, the RLIF.
Our next aim is to close the gap of the souls of the Italian Rugby League, a reunification that we hoped for the day, following the separation of 2010, based on respect for democracy and Rugby League itself. In this mission, the great availability of the RLIF Development Manager, Mr. Bortolo Tas Baitieri, has been immensely helpful, for comparison and continuous inspiration for reflection and growth. His participation in the events and his passion in Italy was able to give the push towards a solution that hopefully, can be close and fruitful. In June of this year, following an invitation and the presence of Mr. Baitieri, representatives of the two associations met in Venice at a meeting of confrontation which had given an encouraging result was accepted as the the condition of the principle of democratic representation, namely the election of a board based on teams which proved their existence and that had played in the competitions of the respective associations to form a single and best body.
The Italia RFL, following the decrees of Italian law, the rules of the CONI and indications/opinions of Mr. Baitieri advances formally reiterates the invitation to the FIRL and puts to the field 13 clubs since the 2010 Championship and their representatives, still waiting to know what they are, in addition to only 2 known, the teams and representatives thereof, associated with the FIRL.
We find that the formula of democracy and representation is the input for a better constituent phase that gives rise to a body that represents the four key aspects in each association: clubs, players, coaches and referees. The same principles are the foundation of all successful federations and we want you to remember that the same history of Rugby League began thus: “On 29 August 1895, representatives of twenty-two clubs met in the North of England at the George Hotel in Huddersfield to form the Northern Rugby Football Union “.
Cumbria are the BARLA County Tri-Series Champions for the first time in four years after a hard fought 20-14 victory over Lancashire who knew that they had to win by eight points to snatch the title from their visitors. Lancashire who at one stage led by six and four points respectively went behind in the final quarter as Cumbria eventually took control to lead and win the game.
On a beautiful autumnal afternoon there was minute’s applause in memory of Cumbria stalwart John Pattinson who sadly passed away two weeks ago and two minutes on Remembrance Sunday prior to the game.
Cumbria had the first attack of the game on three minutes after Shaun Quinn (Thatto Heath Crusaders knocked on following a John Paul Brocklebank (Egremont Rangers) grubber but from the resulting scrum the visitors lost possession early in the tackle count.
Lancashire responded in style and took the lead on nine minutes with a converted try. Stuart Arkwright (Golborne Parkside) drove for the line before being held, he found Leon Brennan (Leigh Miners Rangers) who offloaded to the impressive Phil Braddish (Bank Quay Bulls) who drove bounced off two defenders before driving over to score and Adam Walsh (Thatto Heath Crusaders) added the extras
Brennan and his half back partner led their troops round the field looking for the gaps to increase the lead but Cumbria weathered the storm and levelled the game up on 22 minutes when former BARLA Great Britain’s Richard George (Maryport) took a ball on the crash to go over the whitewash and Brocklebank’s goal levelled the game.
Both sides given the importance tried playing running rugby league and Lancashire were rewarded when Brennan, and Ryan Baxter (Wigan St Patricks) found club mate Liam Gannon (Wigan St Patricks), his outside pass found Steve King (Wigan St Judes) who managed to squeeze in at the corner for a four points lead on 29 minutes.
The lead though was short lived, five minutes later Kieron Dainty (Leigh Miners Rangers) couldn’t take Brocklebank’s spiraling bomb on the last and the visitors regained the ball and quickly spun it down the line. Daniel Rooney (Maryport) saw a gap and went in to level the scores going into the break.
Lancashire again got off to the better start in the second half with their forwards to the fore with Mick Ledger (Thatto Heath Crusaders) putting some big drives and busts in at the Cumbria defence. That momentum was rewarded on 46 minutes following a penalty, Brennan passed to Johno Smith (Leigh East) who bulldozed forward before offloading to Dainty, he passed outside to Brennan who found Steve King (Wigan St Judes) who squeezed over in the corner to make it 14-10. Walsh’s conversion hit the post and bounced back into play.
Cumbria began to get on top with their forwards gaining better yardage and working better with their half backs who were taking them around the field. The side also showed they were switched on in relation to the score when on 57 minutes Brocklebank converted a penalty for interference at the play the ball. The lead was down to two points and a converted try would give Lancashire the spoils and the title.
Cumbria appeared to have the momentum and this was proved on 61 minutes when they decisively took the lead for the first time in the game following sustained pressure as man of the match Adam Nicholson (Walney Central) drove over from close range to make up for a chance earlier when he lost the ball in the process of scoring. Brocklebank added the extras to make it 18-14 and Lancashire needed two converted tries to take the championship.
They began to keep the ball alive at all times in impossible situations to get points on the board and superb Cumbria defence held firm, When in attack Cumbria looked dangerous with probing runs and kicks from Brocklebank, George and Paul Corkhill (Egremont Rangers).
They held fast and were rewarded with the final score of the game eight minutes from time following back to back penalties the latter for dissent. Brocklebank cooly converted his fourth goal of the game and although Lancashire battle to the end the glory and the championship belonged to visitors Cumbria.
A jubilant Cumbria Head Coach Paul Crarey said,
“I think it was a great effort from the boys we’ve been together two years now and we’ve run some good systems and we have been building to this. We were unlucky last year but we beat Yorkshire at Maryport last month and we knew we had a chance coming down here. It was a very tight, with nothing in the game and we were glad to get away with a win, a win that has seen us crowned champions
“We knew we had an eight point cushion going into the game and at the back of our minds we were a bit complacent at times sitting on the back of that. We gave the players a little warning at half time that we couldn’t rely on the point’s difference lets win it ourselves. Our completion rates went up to 75% and that possession helped us get the 20-14 win. I’m very pleased for everyone concerned in the set up in Cumbria and Cumbrian rugby league is very healthy.
“Adam (Nicholson) plays club football in the centres; we don’t see him as a centre we play him in the front tow. He was outstanding in the game against Yorkshire and we played him in the front row and back row today. He came off the bench and caused them a lot of damage. He has great footwork and quite good speed for a big guy and is very awkward to tackle and when he crashed over then for his try it was a massive relief
LANCASHIRE: Keiron Dainty (Leigh Miners Rangers), Adam Walsh (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Danny Mason (Wigan St Patricks), Steve King (Wigan St Judes), Shaun Quinn (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Leon Brennan (Leigh Miners Rangers), Ryan Baxter (Wigan St Patricks), Mick Ledger (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Stuart Arkwright (Golborne Parkside), Phil Braddish (Bank Quay Bulls), Johno Smith (Leigh East) Anthony Morrison (Saddleworth Rangers), Adam Thomason (Leigh Miners Rangers). Subs: Anthony Atherton (Wigan St Patricks), David Hocker (Ince Rose Bridge), Liam Gannon (Wigan St Patricks), Sean Foster (Wigan St Cuthberts).
CUMBRIA: Rhys Davies (Egremont Rangers), Chris Warren (Millom), Dan Rooney (Maryport), Scott Lofthouse (Kells), Anthony Dixon (Millom), John Paul Brocklebank (Egremont Rangers), Richard George (Maryport), Craig Wilson (Millom), Lee Edmondson (Roose Pioneers), Johnny Goulding (Cockermouth), Peter Bewsher (Egremont Rangers), Paul Carter (Millom), Daniel Toal (Ulverston). Subs: Paul Corkhill (Egremont Rangers), Adam Nicholson (Walney Central), David Lowery (Kells), Andrew Dawson (Millom).
Referee: Chris Kendall (Yorkshire)
Man of the Match Adam Nicholson (Cumbria)
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