A few comments today on some things that have been going on the last week and that I want to comment on. Yes the new NRL broadcast deal has been announced, but i will not talk about that today. Recently the Canberra Stadium has been announced as a Test venue for next years mid-season game. An interesting response has been had by the fans on this issue. This week also sees the Challenge Cup Final and I will be privileged to be there once again (last time I was there was 2008). Also a bit of news out of Serbia.
Canberra celebrates 100 years next year, and as part of those celebrations it will host its second ever Rugby League International. Its first being during the 2008 Rugby League World Cup where France defeated Scotland. Now, this has really stirred the ants nest amongst fans. There are two clear cut sides that have formed. Either you love the decision and Canberra is well overdue for hosting tests, or you think that Canberra should not get it because they have lousy crowds and it should go to Perth or Adelaide to help promote the matches.
Right. So this leads to the question, how should test venues be decided? This is my opinion: Have cities compete for the rights to hosts test! For once the sport needs to be on the front foot with these initiatives. Going to the same old, same old venues makes no sense. If the sport is really that keen to expand then they need to gauge what interest there is in those cities that could have an expansion team. The interested parties and councils should put in bids, show that they have the best product, offer the most monetary value for the product, show that there will be interest there and not just empty seats. The ARL then, with the help of a committee, can decide on where to take the game.
This goes for Sydney and Brisbane as well. People complain that Sydney has not gotten a test in a long time, well have them make sure they get a proper bid out there, show the product will work. We are starting to see this in State of Origin, why the hell not have it apply to the international game.
Now it seems that the one off internationals will be solely a ARL/NZRL controlled deal, thus the money generated stays with those organizations. That is a fair enough cop. It may be an international, but if the RLIF is NOT organising it then why should they get the money. This should be enough of an incentive for them to get of their seats and start taking control of the game and selling the International game… well… internationally!
If they sell those games, then hell, they get the money. Instead of the measly 10% or what ever they get now, it can be reversed, a game like that Australia and New Zealand would get say 10% of the taking and the RLIF 80%. Start getting more internationals being set in tournaments and that pie starts to grow for everyone.
But, I can see the merits of both arguments on the Canberra case, but in reality they have their centenary and I think its a good call and wonderful gesture on the part of the Australian Rugby League (we don’t need to use commission anymore) to let them host the game.
As I mentioned last week, the Challenge Cup is on this weekend. This is the oldest running Rugby league competition in the world and goes all the way back to the original year of the great Rugby Split, 1895. This year we see the Leeds Rhinos chasing the elusive glory that is being crowned cup champions. Leeds won it last in 1999 and their opponents, the Warrington Wolves, have seen cup success in recent history with success in 2009 and 2010. In fact this is the replay of the 2010 final which saw the Wolves annihilate the Rhinos 30-6.
Its a grand old festival of Rugby league, which kicks off on Friday night with the Skolars Night. Its the final home game of the London Skolars season in Championship 1 and always pulls a record crowd for them as they put on a great festival atmosphere at their games. Then Saturday sees all the bars around London and Wembley get filled with the colours and sounds of Rugby League. It is hard to go downtown London and not see a Rugby League jersey. The bars around Wembley Stadium are full from the morning with everyone getting into a great atmosphere for the 2pm game.
2 hours later its celebrations or commiserations for all as the winners are crowned. Its a wonderful time, I have a lot of fond memories from the last time I was there. From doing the Wembley Walk to having a few beers with the Hull Kingston Rovers Crew. Hanging out in central London with close friends its a fantastic time.
If you are a Rugby League lover, then this is the Mecca of the sport, the one Rugby League experience YOU HAVE TO DO at least once in your life.
So who will win? Oh gee that is a tough one to pick. In the Super League, both teams are in the top eight. The Wolves are in second place while the Rhinos are in fifth. But Super League form counts for nothing here. This is a you lose you’re out competition and no game is easy. Leeds did it harder to get there, beating Wigan 39 – 28, while the Wolves won 33 – 6. If we go on the form of the Super League both teams have a win on each other. In round 5 the Rhinos beat the Wolves 26 –18 while in round 16 the Wolves beat the Rhinos 37-18. The wolves may have some momentum but Leeds will have the drive to get a win and get revenge on 2010.
My pick: Leeds to win by 4 points over the Wolves in a tight affair, 20 – 16.
English-Midlands U18s defeated Serbia to win the Youth Festival held in Belgrade from 17th to 19th August. The RFL’s Midlands selection scored two tries in the early minutes of both halves which proved too much for the game hosts, who nevertheless battled hard. Perfect kicking by fullback Nick Tasker and halfback Ben Lewis only made the victory more convincing.
Hershall Ward, who was a constant threat for the Serbian defence, scored the first try of the game in 3rdminute. In the very next set Tasker broke the line and marked under the posts. Serbia then doubled their efforts and began to play with more fighting spirit, holding the English from further scores for the remainder of the half.
The English start to the second period was a carbon copy of the first, with two quick tries by Jack Pearce and Chris Needham. Ben Lewis converted on the both occasions. Both teams had their chances in the following period, but only the tourists managed to extend their lead in the dying minutes. David Wilson broke through the tired Serbian line and Tasker added the conversion, kicking a hat-trick for the final 30-0 victory.
RLEF Central and Eastern Europe Regional Director Jovan Vujošević was satisfied with the festival’s outcomes, in terms of organisation and the participants’ standard of performance: “This Youth Festival was successfully organised and entertained three nations with different cultural backgrounds. What was important is that they all spoke the unique language of our sport and it was really great to watch under-18 players fighting for their colours in a rugby league friendly environment.
“Credit goes to everyone involved: Lebanon, who managed to come to Belgrade despite almost impossible conditions back home, then played two matches in two days; England, who convincingly won both games; and Serbia, who again proved their hosting capabilities and good progress in youth development.”
Serbia’s Under-16 national team travels to Germany later this month for a two-match series with their central European rivals.
Zdravko Stikić, Nemanja Zlatanović, Branko Ćorić, Uroš Radulović, Gavrilo Cvetković, Filip Stošić, Nemanja Petrović, Pero Madžarević, Slavko Marković, Srdjan Četnik, Vasilije Jovanović, Miloš Djordjević, Stefan Vidaković. Subs: Nikola Stojmenović, Sergej Devetak, Nik Ramišvili, Nemanja Bajić, Mladen Randjić, Vukašin Rajšić, Jan Kulik
ENGLISH MIDLANDS U18
Nick Tasker, Will Cox, Connor Slater, David Wilson, Hershall Ward, Alasdair McDougall-Stone, Ben Lewis, Alex Heath, Tom Hughes, Ryan Home, Michael Bennett, Myles Turner, Reece Needham. Subs: Chris Zaric, Adam Bromley, Harry Marks, Denham Samuels, Oliver Sankey, Jack Pearce, Dan Hyams, Joe Frobisher
In the other games Serbia defeated Lebanon 46-4 and the English Midlands Lions U18 defeated Lebanon also 46-4.
Serbia became the first nation to graduate from the Rugby League European Federation Technical Strategy following completion of a two-day Phase 3 Coaching course, which was run concurrently with the U18s festival in Belgrade at the weekend.
Serbian tutors Marko Janković and Dragan Radlović, under the scrutiny of RLEF Coaching Manager Martin Crick, delivered an RLEF Level 1 Coaching Course in the five-star football academy at Stara Pazova, with 14 new coaches earning their diplomas.
’’The enthusiasm for the game of all those present, and their desire to learn, was highly impressive,“ said Crick. “The sport in Serbia is making massive strides – on the same weekend the Serbian U16 squad were also in camp preparing for their forthcoming game with Germany.”
“I’m very satisfied with what I saw,“ continued Crick. ’’The candidates showed great enthusiasm and potential. They took active part in discussion and asked good questions. Special credit goes to the tutors, who excelled.’’
The level one coaches who passed the course came from almost all of the Serbian clubs and three from Republika Srpska, where they are leading on the development of rugby league in the Serb enclave and Bosnia & Herzegovina.”
Crick concluded. “In what other sport would you get a Greek Orthodox priest, a doctor of philosophy and a night club bouncer all on the same pitch at the same time!’’
The Jamaica Rugby League Association’s 2012 national club championship continued on over the weekend with three matches played.
GC Foster Lions ambushed home team Maxfield Rookies Star Steppers 18-10 at the Maxfied Park football ground. Maxfield who were previously unbeaten with a 3-0 record, trailed the game after only 5 minutes when Ryan Grant slotted home a penalty kick after Maxfield were ruled offside at the ruck area. GC Foster went further ahead when Marlando Anderson weaved his way to the try line on 12 minutes, with Grant kicking the conversion for an 8 point lead.
The half finished with GC Foster holding their 8 point advantage, however, Maxfield drew first blood in the second half when menacing prop forward Dushane Alford bullied his way past two defenders to give his team hope. Stephen Scott then scored against the run of play for GC Foster, with Grant again converting as the Fostodians led 14-4. Maxfied threw everything into attack and were rewarded when stand half Joseph Shae side stepped three defenders and crashed in for a try, Shae kicked his own conversion as his team trailed 10-14. That’s as close as the home team got as GC Foster’s flying winger, Ryan Spence, raced in for the try that sealed the game on 71 minutes.
In other results, Duhaney Park Red Sharks made it 4 from 4 when they defeated Portmore Sons 40-18 at the Duhaney Park mini stadium. Making his season debut, scum half and former national player Damon Gayle scored twice in leading the defending champions to a comfortable win. He was well supported by Jermaine Pinnock, Andre Reid, Khamsi Mckain, Peter Tapper, Fabion Turner and Stephen Brown who all scored a try each. Kemoy Whyte added 3 conversions and a penalty kick. For Portmore, talented scrum half Tevin Phillips had a double, with support coming from Rageem McClean and Paul Walker with a try each. Walker also kicked a conversion.
In the other scheduled games, Spanish Town Vikings claimed full points from St. Andrew Renegades who had insufficient players, while the Vauxhall vs. Jamaica Defense Force game was rescheduled with the date to be announced.
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