Donnybrook Cup Interviews

By Daniel Andruczyk

After the Donnybrook Cup was completed I was able to get a few words from Brendan Guilfoyle the Captain of the Irish Wolfhounds Team, David Niu the Coach of the USA Tomahawks and Neil Wood the RFL’s director of European development. While I was talking with Neil I took the opportunity to ask him about some of the recent developments in Europe with the split in Italy and Russia and got some very candid answers. So here are the transcripts. Enjoy!

Brendan Guilfoyle

RLIS: Brendan that was a really tough game, a lot of injuries coming out of it early on. How did you find the game?

BG: I think we knew coming into it that up front that’s where the game was going to be won and lost. i think the first twenty minutes dictated the game, were were under a lot of pressure on our own line for a good ten minutes in the first Twenty. Once we stuck it out we felt we were in with a chance. We’ll have a lot of sore bodies in the morning.

RLIS: It took about fifteen twenty minutes for those first points to come in from you guys, by that stage you had held the USA over your line I think twice, that must have been a real confidence boost fro your defence.

BG: Definitely! I think It’s when we recycled the benches is when we scored, we had a couple big fellas out on the start, we had twenty minutes going hard D. We picked a team for that and then we had slightly more mobile players come out and start to spread it and we got the try, i think it was more like twenty five minutes before we scored. So I think it’s kind of what we expected and luckily enough it went our way.

RLIS: Now just before half time the USA had something like four sets of six on the back of where you guys touched the ball and some penalties. They got one penalty where they chose to go for the two points right before half time and I saw that you guys got really excited about it.

BG: For our tired forwards that was really a moral victory for us I think. If it was us in that situation ten points down just before half time we would have gone for the throat, so we feel that was a really moral victory for our forwards that they felt they had to kick and couldn’t break our lines. That was a real tuning point for us. We knew we had just about got on top of them at that stage.

RLIS: In the second half the USA through that middle section, probably a good twenty minutes, really had the momentum despite the fact you had scored two tried by that point. they really were pushing your line and you held them up four times, and again your defence must have really got some confidence out of that?

BG: I think Alan Robinson our coach deserves a lot of credit for that, he’s played 5 times over here against the Tomahawks and from the start he said target the ball close to the line rather than run in for any big tackles, wrap up the ball you can kill the play. I think one of our centre’s Paddy Barcoe did that extremely well close to the line and our fullback Ashley Huck target the ball rather than go in for the big tackles, even when they got over the line we had someone under the ball. Yeah, in fairness Alan our coach we worked on that all week and it payed off today.

RLIS: In terms of preparations for the Home Nations mid-year what do you think the team needs to work on now?

BG: Oh, hahah, um I need to sit down and have a look at it. I think we did give a way a few penalties when under pressure and had a few mistakes early on where we knocked-on the ball a bit but to be honest I need to sit down and have a think about that and see where we need to go. Obviously the penalties Really puts us under pressure and we were lucky that our defence were solid today, I think that the big to work on.

RLIS: OK Brendan thanks and Congratulations.

BG: Thanks a lot.

David Niu

RLIS: David that was a tough match how did you find it?

DN: Yeah, that is always hard to loose. We had our chances early on but we failed to execute and score some points. I could try and sit here and make up excuses but they were better than us and we had chances to be really competitive we just couldn’t make it up.

RLIS: Now right before half time Apple Pope took those two points right when you had the Irish at the jugular. I think a lot of people who know their Rugby League would have looked at that and said “What’s he thinking”… what were you thinking?

DN: The truth was exactly what I said in the beginning we couldn’t get across the line. Our plan was working into that strong wind, if we could stay close and get some points on the board you know we’d give ourselves an opportunity. So I thought taking the two was the right move at the time and we went in with the feeling that we’d been working hard we got some points, we’re down eight and get back into it.

RLIS: Looking at the future you have the Colonial Cup, the two test against Canada and then you have the World Cup Qualifiers. So where do you see the team needs to go in terms of preparations for those matches.

DN: Yeah we got lots to do. We’ve got to build on the player base that we have, we’ve got to get back to some of the things that were successful for us you know and execute on some of those errors. We had new guys in some key positions which by the nature of things makes it difficult. But I think it was a good event, people supported it and Rugby league got another shot in the arm.

RLIS: I was actually going to ask how you found the weeks events and today, everything running. Things seemed to run quite smoothly?

DN: Yeah it worked out. We are working in a tough period, its cold, we’re coming out of winter its difficult conditions but we were lucky we got some sunshine and right now its not that warm but I’m pretty happy. We got to keep pushing forward we have a big year ahead and we cant be disappointed about something and we got to keep pushing forward.

RLIS: OK David, thank you very much. Congratulations on the event and commiserations on the loss.

DN: Thanks.

Neil Wood

RLIS: Neil what are your thought on the match today?

NW: I really enjoyed the game. I love seeing nations like Ireland and America play in this spirit its just fantastic and a decent crowd of people turn out to watch the game. I was involved in the very first game in 1995 so its fantastic to keep the series alive and its a great development too for both Ireland and the USA.

RLIS: Do you think these kinds of matches could be on the cards for other nations in the future?

NW: Yeah there is a big international program now, as you know well, you get all the all the results its a massive international program now, its unprecedented. This one is very special because its around St Patricks Day, so that’s where it grew out of the main driver behind it is St Patricks concept and is a great benefit for all the players.

RLIS: Now with the World Cup Qualifiers coming up this year, you’re probably more concerned with the European Side of things. This week it was announced the Qualifiers and where they were going to be held with two matches being held in Belgrade. You must be really happy with the way some of those countries like Serbia and Lebanon have come along in the last five to ten years?

NW: Part of my role is to actually organise the world cup qualifiers. The main reasons now I am over here is to do the site visits, look at the sights and do the assessments and see where and if it’s possible to hold a World Cup qualifier on this side of the water as well. But Serbia, with Jovan and Nebojsa are leading that program and are fantastic. Mohammed and Raymond in Lebanon just what they have achieved is beyond compare and watch out for Italy they made great strides in the last 12 months. Tiziano’s got a lot of help with him now and they’ve been brilliant and Russia are rebuilding. Don’t discount Russia! Russia is a big Rugby league country you know, there is a lot of activity there that is unseen.

RLIS: Yeah I wanted to mention that. The last couple of years there has been slits in Italy and Russia and we can’t really beat around the bush on that. I think in Russia there are three factions and in Italy two with Tiziano’s Group the recognized one. Can you say anything on what’s been resolved there?

NW: Russia I would disagree that its three groups fighting for control. There was a federation that was in place and recognised and they failed for various reasons. I don’t actually know the real reason why that group failed and drifted away and that left a vacuum. There is so much interest in Rugby league that people carried on. Now they weren’t fighting for control they just were carrying on doing what they had already done and somebody needed to be in charge and recognised as the governing body.

RLIS: So who’s in charge in Russia now?

NW: Well as it stands now the European Federation recognises the Russian Association of Rugby League Clubs with Eduard Tarturian and his colleagues. So we work with Eduard and working very closely with him. That’s not so say that there are other people we are trying to unify them. look they all share one thing, don’t mess around with splits, everyone shares one thing they all want the game to succeed.

RLIS: And Italy?

NW: Italy I am not exactly certain, there is a group that is geographically separate from what Tiziano and his group have been doing and they decided that they wanted to go and do their own thing which is fine and hopefully in the future those groups will come together. I am not certain they need to play in the same league, they can play separate divisions and have a play-off at the end of it if that what they want. But honestly my experience I don’t really see too many difficulties if they want to play Rugby League. The Federation of Italian Rugby League are now preparing for their competition they’ve got Kelly Roberston working with them and Tiziano’s working very hard as are all the volunteers getting a club structure and administratively they have have got a lot better and they are preparing for World Cup Qualification and I think they will be a very strong nation.

RLIS: Neil thanks for your time

NW: Its a pleasure.

I also did manage to ask Apple Pope the Captain of the Tomahawks what his plans were for the year. i do know that many of the readers of this sight have been asking what his plans are and how he qualified. So I put the question to him and he gave me a straight up answer. He wants to play for the Tomahawks, be their captain leading into the World Cup Qualifiers and thus he will be playing as an AMNRL player at large. This means he will not play for the Axemen or any USARL teams.

So there you have it folks!

Other News

In some other news quickly, the last few days a whole bunch of new websites have been Launched. The Jamaican Hurricanes launched their new site . Also The USARL wave launched their new website and while having a beer with Neil, though not officially announced yet the new RLEF website has also been put up at . So check out these new sites!


Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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51 Responses to “Donnybrook Cup Interviews”

  1. Ashley says:

    Great work Druzik, nice to get some insight into the likes of Italy and Russia. Ireland’s win rounded off a top sporting week for he Irish. Sadly though I’ve noticed a lot of comments about this match like “time is ticking for Niu,” I mean really, they lose one game an suddenly time is ticking? Pfft.

    It would be great to see the Wolfhounds ‘A’ team play maybe a few games against European opponents, maybe the likes of Germany. That would aid german development and continue the excellent platform the A team gives to local Players in Ireland.

    Of course many of my suggestions dont really matter as the RLEF are doing plenty of good work!

    • druzik says:

      Losing the game is not an issue. The USA were in the game the whole way, they just need to learn to put it down. They were over that line six rimes, that is 24 points right there so the game could have gone either way. Also despite that 26-8 is not a blow out, its not a 50-0 so I think they did well.

      The USA have a pretty descent win loss record. 22 won and 15 lost with 0 tied. That includes Saturdays game.

      As for the comments… look losing a game does not mean time is ticking. Can things be resolved between the AMNRL and USARL… who knows. Since the AMNRL has not come out and said anything its hard to really gauge anything though. Look the USARL model may not be the best one, maybe the AMNRL model is the better one, but I think hopefully what this will do is jolt development either way and get the sport back on track.

      The Wolfhounds ‘A’ do play other nations. They play the annual home nations against Wales, Scotland and England and also usually have a game against the French A as well. In the past they have also played Lebanon and Russia.

  2. jannerboyuk says:

    The Pope situation is a disgrace. How does it benefit the tomahawks to have their captain kicking his heels between internationals? Is he expected to move in order to stay match fit? Will he be allowed to even train informally with the Axemen? Maybe we will see a.n.other on the axemen teamsheet? Will AMNRL send spies to make sure that he doesn’t play? Can he coach the Axemen developmental teams? Kafkaesque. Worse it surely reminds everyone of the dispicable union bans on league players. I think before this arose most of supporters of developing international league felt maybe a split was healthy, that David Niu undoubtedly deserved respect for what he has achieved, maybe there could be a superbowl game etc etc but this must be creating such bitterness. I urge everyone to help out the USARL not to destroy the amnrl but to force Niu to stop being an arse

    • druzik says:

      Look that will be for Apple to figure out I guess. He would have weighed all that up before making his decision I am sure.

      • jannerboyuk says:

        I disagree its for the coaches of the tomahawks to weigh up the effects of their captain getting zero gametime in between internationals. A situation they’ve created in the first place!

      • druzik says:

        Ahh two different issues I think.

        Agree, its up to the Coaches to decide weather Apple should be selected because he does not play, but ultimately its Apple that decides if he wants to be a player at large and be available to the tomahawks, or forfeit that and play for a USARL team.

      • jannerboyuk says:

        C’mon Druzik thats a gun to the head decision. Technically his decision but within an outrageous situation created by the same people forcing pope to choose.

      • druzik says:

        Maybe … but it is what it is. Not an ideal situation I know.

  3. deluded pom? says:

    How ironic that David Niu thinks he needs to expand the Tomahawks’ player base.

    • druzik says:

      Well the Hawaians are behind him 100%. Hopefully they can get a team or two with Jack Breen leading them. I spoke with Jack and he is very excited about the prospect of league over there. They have a full Rugby Stadium at their disposal that holds about 18,000.

      • deluded pom? says:

        Who are “the Hawiians”? How many teams can they muster? If they get two teams then who are they going to play against? The same two teams play each other will soon get boring for players and speccies alike. An 18,000 seater stadium would then be irrelevant. These players are getting an international cap with no experience of the game. They are being chosen for their skills and athleticism which are useful in the sport they play but which may or may not be any use in rugby league. It’s cheapening the Tomahawks jersey. What message does it send out to players who thought they might be in with a a shout at a USA spot because of the split only to see players who have never played rugby league before being chosen in front of them?

      • druzik says:

        Well there were apparently 4 camps for players to go to and get selection. So any player who thought they were in with a shot just needed to go to one of these and stake his claim.

        So Sione Taufa is from Hawaii as is the try scorer I think, Louis Tulio, some one may correct me if they know. No team lists were given out with which players played for whom… I’ll try and find out from Jack Breen

        An interesting analysis is provided from Brian Lowe at WAR:

      • deluded pom? says:

        You also stated that there were rumours that the Tomahawks had already been selected before the four camps had even taken place!

      • druzik says:

        Yeah, I had heard this but never could find any hard evidence on this. I said as much last week and dropped it. No point harping on it.

      • deluded pom? says:

        Not sure of Tulio’s background but he has played in the AMNRL for several years now. He was a member of the 2007 WC qualifying squad that played in the UK.

      • druzik says:

        Right, cool. Good info for everyone. Good on him.

  4. Great interviews Druzik!

    Have to say i am very interested in the ongoings in Russia. Been heaps of bad reports coming out of there over the last few years.

    Lets hope they to unify as they have so much potential. The might be the dark hourse in the WC qualifiers

  5. major says:

    Louis Tulio is an American
    great player for the Bulls and Philly white marsh and brandwein union rugby i think . Tulio — is Itailian similar to my last name calouri

  6. png says:

    Just read a interesting article on the situation between the amnrl and the usarl it seems that a truce is on the cards with both parties presidents meeting on the 20th of march to discuss how to develope rugby league together the article read .”At a meeting held in Philadelphia on March 20th 2011 between AMNRL President, David Niu and Peter Ilfield, Chairman of the USARL we resolved to start a process to find a way to ensure that Rugby League can develop successfully in the United States of America under our leadership. We are agreed that there are more things that unite than divide us, we are prepared to hold discussions in an open and honest fashion in order to find solutions to all the problems that we face. Whilst undergoing this process we are committed to ensuring that there are no interruptions to the domestic and international programmes in this country and that both programmes run successfully for the benefit of players, supporters, sponsors and other partners.

    “We have worked out a timetable for review and discussion which will be presented to the Rugby League International Federation for their approval and support and will aim to have a full resolution before the end of 2011. During the review we are all committed to supporting Rugby League without hindering any other activities. Our programmes will be open to all athletes, management and supporters who wish to join in.

    “Finally we both appeal to all members of the Rugby League community in the United States of America to deal with each other in a civil and respectful manner and to refrain from all inflammatory comment or action. We need to remember that Rugby League is our shared passion and that we should be able to respect the views and actions of others. This review will require patience, tolerance and understanding from everyone and we feel certain that our Rugby League Community can demonstrate these values which will greatly assist the smooth running of the process.”

    • druzik says:

      Yep saw that and knew the meeting was going to happen… so they finally got some resolution.

      I bet Neil Wood got that one going as I saw him talking with both parties through the day.

      • png says:

        I would have to agree with you druzik Neil wood despite what some people might say does do a great job , it’s just great to hear that both parties have come to the table to negotiate and both realise that it’s not about them but about the game which both parties are passionate about the corect steps have been made now for a positive outcome for the game of rugby league in the USA in all I think some good is going to come from all of this perhaps the game will come out of all this mess alot stronger in the US . keep up the great work still enjoy this site .

      • druzik says:

        Well I think all the parties are wanting the sport to be stronger. We’ll see where things go with the latest developments.

  7. dragons4eva says:

    Thanks for the interviews Druzik. Always good to get a players and coaches point of view from a match.

    As for the Press Release hopefully the Tomahawks will be a unified entity of both the USARL and AMNRL soon. They really need to come together and do what’s best for the USA and their chances of getting to the 2013 RL world cup!

  8. Interested Observer says:

    You are right dp, selecting the guys from Hawaii was a kick in the guts to other players but hopefully if this meeting and the comments released about it are genuine, things may be looking up.

    I doubt there’s a player in the USA who doesn’t want to see the game move forward and the competitions unite. That would make for a strong domestic comp and a true USA team.

    Druzik, why didn’t you ask Niuy about the split, the AMNRL etc etc?

    • druzik says:

      Well it was clear from the Press conference that he was not going to say anything about that… plus being surrounded by all stargroup I would have been mobbed lol

      Also after the game, it would have been poor form to hassle David about that… if you were coach that just lost the game, I think the last thing you want is to be hassled about that.

      I think David has made it clear that he does not want to talk to anyone about it… so there you go.

      We did chat about the Nuclear Situation in Japan though 🙂

  9. Interested Observer says:

    and whaling?

    Good job druzik, keep it up. Would have been nice to see you push a few buttons though, I am sure you’d make a good investigative journo.

  10. wrightyo says:

    this is the best laugh to come out of the states since woody allen, i have laughed so much i was actually in tears,over breakie, keep it coming guys and druzik you are class man i cant get enough, as any body thought about actually making a zany comedy movie out of this? think about it, it WILL work, and i dont think there has been a RL movie since this sporting life, wrightyo lets get the ball rolling eddie murphy to play druzik

  11. wrightyo says:

    ah of course daniel i stand corrected, that was the oz thingy with the johns brothers in it, hate to take you on at a game of rugby league trivia, btw any news on the mickey rourke plan to do a RL movie about gareth thomas the gay welsh rugby union convert, there were some guys talking about it a few months ago when i was in the uk last summer, druzik you are sheer class man, keep it going

    • druzik says:

      Thanks for the Kind words.

      Yes It was about the Newtown Jets club and the changing face of Rugby league professionalism in Australia at the time which ultimately led to their demise unable to keep up basically. I think Only Matty Johns was in it though as the coach. Was a pretty good film I thought, but i’d love to see a style of film about Rugby league in the type that Hollywood does with NFL.

      So yes you are correct that there is a Mickey Rourke film coming out at some point. He was at the Millennium magic getting a feel for rugby league. HOWEVER it is not a Rugby League specific film as such, as you know he is playing basically the life of Gareth Thomas as being a Gay Rugby Player in general. There will be a Rugby Union component as well as a Rugby League component. From what I understand though MR will be in camp with the Huddersfield Giants for a time to get the basics of the sport to be able to portray it on screen. That’s the extent that I know about it, sorry.

    • druzik says:

      Oh… and I never do well in Trivia … I think the combination of beer and thinking never goes well with me despite my background lol

    • druzik says:

      Acouple other good old Rugby league movies to look out for are “Another Bloody Sunday” which is about Doncaster struggles through the 70’s and Up ‘N’ Under which is a gread documentary series into the working of Rugby League biggest club at the time Wigan. You see all the behind the door stuff and them travelling to Australia to eventually win the World 7s.

  12. wrightyo says:

    it seems as though edward has left the room hey daniel!

  13. wrightyo says:

    and thanks again for the info i would like to watch that up n under i remember wigan years ago playing in the middlesex RU sevens, the team was awesome something like offiah, robinson, tuigamala, betts, platt, edwards, gregory, lydon, i think connelly played too and i am nearly sure they won the tournament, never a wigan fan of that era(could not stand M lyndsay)but they were some outfit i must say

  14. wrightyo says:

    thanks druzik i was wrong about the eddie murphy bit its just a pity john wayne is no longer with us, he could be the only man to play you in the movie, swartzenager, stallone, seagal, willis, and even jimmy cagney together never came across as many snipers as you and the duke, btw am not sure if nobby noble will be a great director but that mug of his will certainly put the fear of god into people especially when he stops chewing that bloody gum, lovl keep it going druz we need you you are quality

  15. Chris Sanders says:

    The Haiwaians play Rugby League and the growh of any game is measured in the numbers that play it and it all counts in my book.
    About time peole saw the big picture for a change and not their black and white small patch.

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