The International Season Is Here!

By Daniel Andruczyk

Who said that Rugby League is not an international sport! The second half of the rugby league international calendar kicked off last Saturday, 10th October, in Sydney with the Australian Mediterranean Cup (AMC). This tournament involved 4 teams, Italy A (the proper Italian team is involved in another tournament), Greece, Malta and Portugal. The first round saw the Greeks and Italians have strong wins and on the weekend the final played with the Greeks defeating the Italians 32-10.

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Malta vs. Italy A and Greece vs. Portugal in the opening round of the AMC at Marconi Stadium. Photos: Daniel Andruczyk

Last week I also saw the Cook Islander and Samoan teams off from Sydney airport as they went to fight for the right to play in the Pacific Nations Cup (PNC). The Samoans were going in as hot favourites with stars bristling in the line up, while the Cook Islanders were predominantly NYC players… and wasn’t there a shock. Probably the shock of the year next to the Czechs beating the Germans, the Cook Islanders won in a tight contest 22-20 and are on their way to Port Moresby where they will take on Fiji in their first match.

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The Samoan and Cook Island teams at Sydney Airport before jetting off to Cairns for their PNC qualifier. Photos: Daniel Andruczyk

The third major international tournament that started on the weekend was the European Nations Cup (ENC). This is a six team event with two groups of three. Scotland, Italy and Lebanon in one group and Wales, Serbia and Ireland in the other. The two opening matches saw the two least experienced teams pitted against probably the two most experienced. Scotland put a 104-00 score line on the Italians in Padua while in Tullamore Ireland ran away 82-00 winners on the Serbians. It must be said though despite the score lines both the Italians and Serbians showed great heart and class to run out and give it their all. The Italians were late inclusions when the Russians pulled out last month and Tizziano Franchin did well to organise everything.

Offcourse next weekend the Four Nations (4N) starts with Australia taking on the World Champions New Zealand at London’s Twickenham Stoop, home of the Harlequins Rugby League club, England takes on France at Doncaster’s Keepmoat stadium. Most are rating the Aussies and Kiwis to be the runaway teams for this tournament, to maintain the southern Hemisphere dominance, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the French and English will have a trick or two to surprise the antipodeans… well we know one already, France have ex – St. George and  current Catalans Dragons player Clint Greenshields playing for them. Clint qualifies through residency, but it seems he is committed to the French cause with rumours he is wanting to take out French residency. I think everyone knows Clint’s abilities and he has had a great season in the ESL this year.

Three warm up matches have also been played, New Zealand played Tonga in what was an outstanding match in Rotorua. They won 40-24. New Zealand Residents, that is the local boys, played a Samoan Residents team drawn from the Samoan domestic comp. This was used to fund raise money for the victims of the Tsunami in Samoa the other week. New Zealand A 52 defeated Samoa A 14. Wales also put on a valiant effort against the English at the Celtic Crusaders home ground in Bridgend. Unlike last years 70 point drubbing, this year the Welsh lads only went down 42-12, showing that having inspirational Welsh international and crowd favourite Iestyn Harris as Coach could do the trick. This was a warm up for the ENC and 4N for the teams respectively and I would say along with the Irish and Scots the Welsh have to be up there as the favourite.

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Elliot Kear (Wales) and Adrian Morely (England) in action in their warm up international at Bridgend. Photos:

But despite all this there is one more tournament that is to be played and for me this is one of the most exciting ones, the Atlantic Nations Cup (ANC). The United States will take on the Jamaicans at Jacksonville on November 10. This will be Jamaica’s first full blown international game, Romeo Moonlith and Calvert Roy are really excited about the prospect and are working diligently to get the best team up there. This tournament hopefully will expand in the near future to include the South Africans and Japanese who are crying out for more internationals.

I will have a full wrap up of this years results later in the year, probably just before Christmas of all the international tournaments and also have some of the upcoming internationals for next year. You can also visit to get all the latest domestic and international results.

Just a final note, I’d like to say a big thanks from Steve Mascord who has one of the most enviable jobs in the world jetting around the world to watch international rugby league. He mentioned me in his blog and so return the favour. I met Steve finally at Bossley Park in Sydney last week and a fine fellow he is. We exchanged stories of places we have seen the greatest game played, Steve I hope Tizziano didn’t disappoint with the catering in Padua.

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33 Responses to “The International Season Is Here!”

  1. Dakota says:

    This is a very well written article Dan 🙂

    I will def be checking up every day to see the updates on the international side of RL!

    Great Blog!!

    =] x

  2. Jarrod says:

    Good post. I’m looking forward to reading this blog, it should give me all I need to know.

  3. Joel says:

    Will be a good read for all fans of International RL

  4. Robbo says:

    I love your enthusiasm for the international game and I will definately have this site on my favourites. If only everyone in rugby league circles shared your passion, we would have a great international game.

    • druzik says:

      Thanks Robbo,
      There are many people that have the enthusiasm but dont get to see how wide spread the sport it. Unfortunately many media interests push only the NRL and ESL party line and dont really give any thought to anything else.

      As it stands, there are two major domestic competitions on at the moment, The French Domestic season and the South African. Soon The Greeks and Unites Arab Emirates will have their seasons kicking off… mid November I have heard. So its all very exciting. Oh and not to forget the Lebanese dometsic comp start in November too, this comp should be hailed from every corner of the RL world, because it has been played solidly for over 10 years now and not even war has managed to stop it!

  5. Stu says:

    Wonderful to see that the RLWC 08 seems to have had a lasting legacy on the international game. It’s even better that both the 4 Nations and Pacific Cup will be televised. Your point about the Lebanese domestic comp is a great one – and to think the whole idea came out of a game in Sydney of players of Lebanese descent! (From little things…)

    Keep up the good work Daniel – RLIS is a must for the passionate and thinking League fan,

    • druzik says:

      Yes its a good start what they have started to do, over $1 million has been spent on the Pacific Cup alone. However I feel the boat still has been missed somewhet on the International game… I’ll discuss this in next weeks blog.

  6. Jon says:

    Will the Italians have any reinforcements coming to Europe for the European Cup?
    How do you see this weekend’s European Cup games going?

  7. C.T.SANDERS says:

    What about the sponsorship from air italia to fund this years european cup competition and so isn’t that a postive for the game

  8. C.T.SANDERS says:

    One thing about you daniel you got an answer to everthing but if you look at your history books tours also produced plenty of sponsorships in the past as well,we were also well ahead of rugby union in number of internationals played,tours popularised the game in new horizons and it also help to develop players and it’s part of our history and folklore whether people like or not.In total gb or england take your pick have beaten the might of austalia 80 times since 1910 and have the likes of the british and irish lions or ireland,england,wales or scotland and throw in france beaten the traditional foes the all blacks and springboks that many times.I wouldn’t of thought so and again another first for little old rugby league.

    • druzik says:

      Where have tours popularised the sport outside England, Australia, New Zealand and France? The stats just aren’t there.

      Tours of the big 3/4 will maintain the power in those countries and not spread the game.

  9. C.T.SANDERS says:

    For the umpteenth time tours make money for the game to finance future tournaments unlike the nrl and sl where all the money goes into the pockets of the owners of all the privately owned professional franchises.That’s the real killer and that’s the reason why the sport continues to struggle.Until that changes the game will never make an impact and when i come up with suggestions that will save the sport like tatarstan going in as a separate identity for world cup qualifiers you continue to shout me down.The student world cup of 2001 in kazan tatarstan was the most successful in the game’s history and the key to that was tatarstan coming in as a separate identity and the government of tatarstan saw value in that tournament and they meet the land costs of all the visiting teams.Yet the maoris came into the 2000 world cup as a separate identity or country as a trade off from the sl wars,lebanon were invited to that same world cup despite the fact that they had no domestic competition of their own and the european celts participated in a european under 16 competition in serbia in 2007.Again a different set of rules for some which i call double standards.The officials see what they want to see.

    • druzik says:

      They don’t for the International game… Australia, Newe Zealand, England make the money, but it does not go into the international game. Why would it, its their money.

      You need to have something that is in the interests of all teams, which is tournaments, where many teams can contribute and share in the money generated. Why should Russia get a cut of the money from Australia/England… makes no sense what so ever.

      And since a country like russia cant afford their own tours, they need to get involved in some why in international tournments. So if they can be involved in a large regional or International set up where money is give even to the first round losers, then its a much better proposition for them. At least there they can break even on their expenses at the very least.

      I knock down you Tatarstan idea because its not a friggin country… It has no independence from Russia, till that happens it is part of Russia as Catalonia is part of Spain. The old days there were not enough teams to make the numbers up in the WC, so the Maori team was brought in for that. They have not competed in WC since, brought in for demo-matches instead… as are the aboriginal side. Same deal, they are not separate nation. If they were done so then it would only add to people laughing at the sport.

      Lebanon were brought in, but they are a separate country, they had enough heritage players to form a team, which led to the domestic comp being set up in Lebanon. Weathere they shjould have been allowed… probably not, but it still does not mean that Tatarstan should compete as a separate nation.

      If they get independence and then take on Rugby League again, sure bring it on… till then. Nope…. actually they way you want things has the big double standard.

  10. C.T.SANDERS says:

    up to 1989 only 5 countries played rugby league in the world and it’s only through the university movement that the game spread because rugby league was seen to many as a working class game with a blue collar mentality or a village game played by village idiots and generally run by village idiots but it has to be the greatest game of all to survive the idiots that run it.

  11. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Russia is known as the commonwealth of independent states and a lot of republics within the russian federation have their own governments with their own autonomies separate from moscow and tatarstan is not the only one.In other words they run their own race.Rugby union would disappear off the face off the earth especially in kazan if tatarsan came into the world cup qualifiers as a separate identity no different than say catalonia.To the people of tatarstan that would be their dream but the people runing our game have always got to be different or odd.That’s why rl as a sport is mickey mouse.When the soviet union broke up in 1991 the ukraine,georgia,moldovia broke away as well as others and when chechyna broke away in 1995 [which is also not russian territory]2 bloody convicts resulted and if chechyna went the whole lot would of gone.Serbs say that kosvo is still a province of serbia despite independence and serbs also say that bosnia is also still part of serbia and people in russia still say that the uraine is part of russia.It’s a matter of interpretation.If tatarstan doesn’t come in as a separate identity rl in russia won’t work.Simple.Take your pick daniel and maori rl should be abolished.

    • druzik says:

      You really need to go and have a look at what the CIS is. You have that all wrong. The CIS IS NOT Russia. The Russian Federation is Russia and the CIS is an economic entity similar to the EU between a whole bunch of the ex-Soviet states that have independence. Tatarstan is a body withing the Russian Federation…. the country of Russia, its not a separate country.

      You need to go and do a bit of reading and study mate.

  12. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Russia toured nz in 2004 where they played Nelson{a team that was stacked up by ring ins],west coast,canterbury B and 2 otago sides.The russian rl paid their own way out and the nzrl mmet the land costs and the husband and wife team of sel and ivy bennett were the tour organisers using it as a political gimmick to make themselves look good in the eyes of akhmet kamaldinov,elena levina and vladmir dolgan in moscow.

  13. C.T.SANDERS says:

    People are laughing at the sport now daniel because the eligblity rules are so lose that it breaches double standards.Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.The administrators see only what they want to see and when it suits them because it’s all about self interest and greed and what’s in it for them.You have already highlighted those points in earlier blogs but the people in the corridors of power shouldn’t be throwing stones in glass houses.That why our sport has no credibility and if countries like catalonia and tatarstan come into it at least people will sit up and take notice,the returns will be huge and the threat of rugbuy union especially in kazan will go away for good, but for the umpteenth time, the irlf aren’t interested in a global game or expansion, but only interested in looking after the interests of all the owners of all the nrl and sl franchises.In their eyes that’s what the game is all about;only a club competition which is only about clubs along the m62 highway and the eastern seaboard of australia and that’s why the irlf in its’ present form must go for the good of the game otherwise there’s no hope.Club football is stifling the game from expanding.

  14. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Daniel you need to go to tatarstan to see for yourself and not read 2nd or 3rd hand stuff.Tatarstan is not russian territory.

    • druzik says:

      I would love to go one day… the fact remains, they are part of the Russia and thus should play under Russia. Until the day (if ever) they get independence, then thay can play as an independent Nation… as it is they play Union now and not League so until they take up League again no point in pipe dreams. Maybe you should go over there an re-establish League for them.

  15. C.T.SANDERS says:

    If paid tv only worry about club football then the game will never grow and america is the only hope.

  16. C.T.SANDERS says:

    They tried rugby once before in kazan and it failed miserably and history has a strange habit of repeating itself and they are only playing rugby 7′ which is a waste of time.Russia will not qualify for the olympic rugby 7’s in brazil in 2016 and for what it’s worth they won’t win a game at the rugby world cup either.They will lose every game by a 100 points.The fact of the matter is that australia,nz and england don’t want rugby league to become an international game and the world champions kiwis should be playing the american tomahawks in jacksonville as a warm up prior to the 2011 4 nations in europe instead of playing the likes of tonga at waikeckamoocow which is also a waste of time.There is nothing to gain from that and about time rugby league expands into the usa,china and india.It’s also worth noting that rugby failed at the olympics before and rugby 7’s is the perfect promotional tool for rugby league so i see that as a positive.I will never ever recognise tatarstan as russian territory as long as i live.Simple.Subject closed.

  17. C.T.SANDERS says:

    I will not mention tours again daniel because the administrators don’t want them nor do the nrl and sl clubs as well.Instead we want a world cup every 2 years like we had before.Ok.

  18. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Everyone rubbished the size of the crowd at glasglow when scotland played wales last weekend in the european cup but at least it’s more that what turns out for the vulcans matches here in auckland for the nsw cup which is the equivalent of pub footie.I hate to see the rilf abandon scotland like the way they have abandoned russia.What a waste because the powers to be are too worried in trying to prop the likes of whitehaven up clubs that have nothing to offer the game at all.Again a hopeless club before any country and look how piss poor the poms were against the useless maoris.The poms are a joke and nothing will improve unless alex murphy comes on board.At least france are on the right track which will only benefit the european game but the rfl only seems to be concerned about what’s going on at whitehaven.What a joke.

    • druzik says:

      One would hope that an International had a better crowd than a domsetic game… but how do you compare a game in Europe to Australia??? Apples and Oranges Chris.

      Having said that the Wales v Scotland crowd was very poor compared to previous crowds and what was in France. Poor promotion form all involved only shows the rank amateurism of the sport at the lower levels.

  19. C.T.SANDERS says:

    There were 2500 people at the wales v scotland game in wrexham but france drew 33000 for their 3 games in france and why aren’t both png and france playing in an expanded 6 nations next year in europe?Is that what you call progress daniel and i heard a nz radio sport station talking about the 4 nations rl competition a few days ago. Time for an nrl franchise in port moresby and one in central queensland as well because central coast have had their go and no second chance at the expense of others.

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