Eels and Eagles Lead While Rugby League Looks at History

By Daniel Andruczyk

A few days a go an interesting article caught mine, and well everyone else’s eye, one that will see (hopefully) the ANZACS pay a great tribute to the fallen diggers of Australia and New Zealand. Another interesting article saw some interesting comments coming out of the Rugby Union camp… are excuses already coming out for the World Cup? And there is much more news form the USA and the antipodes.

Cook Islands Championships

So a bit of news trickling through from the Cook Islands. Its hard at best to know what goes on in the Pacific Islands in terms of news, hardly ever do they release any results. However I have been able to at least find through Rugby League Review some news. The Avaitu Eels and Ngtatangiia Sea Eagles lead the competition. both teams have 5 wins over 6 rounds of competition.

Team Pt
1 Avatiu 10
2 Ngatangiia 10
3 Arorangi 8
4 Tupapa 6
5 Titikaveka 3
6 Aitutaki 3
7 Tukuvaine 2


Union Causing Trouble Again?

So there were two articles that I have seen this week, one through We Are Rugby where Bob Dwyer and Mark Ella along with Bob Fulton for some god forsaken reason have tried to resurrect the hybrid game concept. So one comment from me on this: Why, oh why, oh why, oh why! Rugby league does not need changing, I am sorry there is nothing in Rugby Union that can add to any game. Taking the best out of the two codes to combine them, to me just means playing Rugby League and having none of the Rugby Union waffle.

The second article was by the BBC’s “Australian Correspondent” Nick Bryant, who quite literally went on one of the strangest and most bizarre rants I have read yet. I dont think anyone, or he knows what set him off, but it was quite amusing to read. Some quotes I found amusing,

“When played at its highest level, union is not only the world’s most brutal winter sport, but by far its most beautiful”

um I can assure him that everyone I have met that has compared the two codes far prefer league. Its simplicity speed and brutality far exceeds anything Union had. Here in the USA its one of the best test. Everyone I speak to know about Rugby and call it a confusing silly sport, when I show them a game of League (when it on TV sometimes or through my own DVD’s at parties) everyone is hooked and the comment that I get the most if that League is the NFL on steroids in terms of the speed and hits. They are hooked and I tend to lend a lot of DVD’s to people to watch. The second page is quite amusing as well, trying to talk up the muddy quagmire that is the end of year tour by the Wallabies… actually I think this is a Wannabee rant.

Page three sees him go back to what its all about, “But let us return to the battle of the codes”, the title says it all, “This is the year that rugby league will be relegated to second place”, don’t we hear this about every 4 years, and the calling of the downfall of League. Please. In Australia Union is running 5th at best, with League, AFL, Soccer and daylight running ahead. If it weren’t for the old boys club in the BBC pushing the sport in the UK, Union would be struggling. Only France really Does Union still have a massive stronghold over League and potentially rivals soccer. All I will say is which code[s]  is looking at a Billion dollar TV deal? Not Union that’s for sure.

Yet there is a final comment that really makes it funny “Yet with your cricket team in decline, the mighty Kangaroos strangely fallible against the Kiwis and the Socceroos set to remain a second- or third-tier outfit, this could be the year of the Wallaby.” Well I wouldn’t say the Kangaroos are fallible against the Kiwis, the fact that we have some competition now will probably be a boost for the sport in both countries. I bet that the Wallabies and the English wont be in the semis of the world cup. And I bet that Union will continue to trudge on it stale form at the moment.

Its funny how, when ever there is Rugby Union World Cup or the sport is struggling in places around the world that all this rubbish starts to get bandied around by them. As an excuse to try and beat their chest at Rugby league. Usually when these kinds of articles start coming out it means there is something wrong in the world of Rugby Union.

ANZAC Test and Country do it Again

On Friday night the mid-year representative season kicked off. Australia and New Zealand played at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast in front of an almost sell out crowd of 26,300 fans. Some controversy as to why it was not played at Suncorp Stadium, but you know what its nice to have other places get the test matches other than the capital cities. The Kiwis traditionally never do well in the Mid Year test, and this was no different with the Kiwis going down 20-10 to the Kangaroos.

The other rep match is the NSW City/Country Origin match. This is one of my favourite matches in Australia and I hope that one day I will be able to go and see one of these. Its a brilliant concept and in many ways more important for the life of the sport in New South Wales than even the NRL and State of Origin, why it bring top quality games and money and promotion to the country areas of the state, areas which are the beating heart of the game in the state, where many of our top players are produced. This is the real stronghold of the code.

I know many out there think its a nothing game that should be rid of… No way! Two reasons: the first is that it is something for the code in the country areas of the NSW to look forward to , to see the super stars that they produce, to see that they really matter and are vital part of the sport. Its a feel good game for them. Second its a vital rep game where players can be blooded for the NSW team and eventually for the Australian team. Its that next stem up from NRL that gives players that from different teams that vital experience to start making combinations and coaches to plan for the future.

So in Albury in front of 8,056 fans (a sell out I am told) the NSW Country team defeated the NSW City team 18-12. One last comment for me here, is there anyone else that feels there should be a NRL team based in the country areas of NSW?

Also some exciting news this week that the ARL, NZRL are looking at staging an ANZAC test in 2015 in Turkey at Gallipoli. This will correspond with the Centenary of the making of our two great nations when the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps were sent in to the wrong place by our friends and had to fight a bloody battle. But I think this would be a great gesture to commemorate the day. There are some instances of Rugby League being played back then on the beaches between the two nations. However, lets think about this, the English and French were also there, should we also have an English/British and French game there as well?

My Bad!

Last article I made a bit of a booboo. I said that that one of the new teams in the AMNRL was Detroit. It is true that a Detroit Rugby League team will be playing a exhibition match against the Chicago Stockyarders, the team I should have been referring to was from Delaware. So please accept my apologies for misleading you and replace from last article Detroit with Delaware. I have fixed this up on the main website itself already. Funny though the AMNRL really wants to have a “Vipers” team in the comp.

I also had a bit of a whinge that the Midwest Challenge last week was not promoted at all, it was on the AMNRL website but no where else was it mentioned. I have spoken with the Stockyarders and it was cancelled. No reason was given but i suspect that since many of the players may be University students and had finals (exams) all through the last month, so were most probably studied. It was probably hard to get a team up and going. So hopefully once finals are over we shall see some activity from the Stockyarders and I can bring you some great photos, videos and stories.

The Jacksonville Axemen have their open trials this weekend and have players from 6 nations vying for positions in the team. USA, Australia, France, New Zealand, PNG and England will be featured in the tryouts as players try to get positions from the teams veterans. Interesting indeed. Also I am told that soon there will be news about a new team in Florida.

Also the AMNRL have come out with a list of 14 reasons (it being their 14th season) what we should get excited about the AMNRL season this year:

  1. USA Tomahawks
  2. Bucks County Sharks
  3. War at the Shore XIV
  4. New York Knight Anniversary
  5. North American Challenge
  6. Delaware Vipers
  7. Hawaii
  8. East vs. West Challenge
  9. Chicago Stockyarders
  10. Expansion
  11. Eagle Tag
  12. Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers
  13. Bulls, Wildcats, Raiders
  14. AMNRL All Time Team

For me it also provides a list for people to keep track and see how things really do go this year for them with the split.


Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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14 Responses to “Eels and Eagles Lead While Rugby League Looks at History”

  1. Chris Sanders says:

    Good to see a new team in Florida Daniel.

  2. dragons4eva says:

    Good blog Druzik.

    I agree with your comments with the representative fixtures this weekend. It’s good that RL is spreading around the place. Just the thing with City v Country. It’s true it is good that country areas get exposed to hight quality RL and that the NSWRL spreads it to country towns because a lot of players come from there which is fantastic. I just think however the ‘purpose’ of City v Country is a little bit past its due by date. Not saying it isn’t an important fixture…however i just think it being a ‘trial’ for NSW isn’t really an excuse anymore because QLD do not have it yet they’ve won 5 SOO in a row. Anywayz just my opinion i suppose.

    Also with the AMNRL seems that there is a lot that they’re planning. But i think the RLWC qualifiers, Tomahawks and North American challenge is in the same boat but it doesn’t matter i suppose lol

    Anywayz all the best man and good to hear from you again.

    • druzik says:

      I enjoy, City/Country, I am not sure its past its used by date as a trial for SoO. Foe example look at Uiate… OK, I know that I would not have him there at all… but he is clearly being groomed for the NSW team. Instead of taking him one day and just throwing him in the NSW team, he now at least has domestic rep experience having played this game, selectors have seen if he can handle that extra pressure.

      Another example, remember Hasem El masri. For years he was overlooked for the NSW team, but when he finally got his one chance he performed exceptionally under the pressure and why? He had years of City/Country experience, he knew what it was like to be under that extra bit of pressure, playing in an unfamiliar setting. So I am not sure that is true of the game.

      Now as for QLD… I guess two arguments coulb be put in there 1. The population they draw from is less and so such a game is not needed… however in the past this was the case, there was a QLD City/Country game, it just was never popularised the way NSW did. Also the way the NRL teams are set about in QLD, you basically get a City v Country clash each time the Broncos play either the Cowboys or Titans now. Plus lets say that Central QLD get a team next year, you have a further QLD “country” area that gets a top class team. The NSW NRL teams are all basically in Sydney so having that fixture makes a bit more sense. What “country” teams do you have in NSW … Newcastle and surrounds which has a population of 3-400,000 or so there which is a big population base they draw from, I would call them a “City team” and they are close to Sydney anyway. Canberra is also a 300,000 population base and maybe can be called a country team. Illawarra, well not sure how you would call them in the merger getting only a few games a year.

      Yes it is a lot of planning for the AMNRL, and I hope it all does work out. I have not seen much from the USARL… aside from their Championships and Phily 9’s. However the one game that intruiges me in the AMNRL is the East v West game? Whill this be a Hawaii v East Coast game? I mean the WAMNRL teams have all gone over to the USARL! No other teams exist aside from the Stockyarders.

      • dragons4eva says:

        I knew you would come back with an intelligent answer Druzik lol.

        But yeah i understand where you are coming from with the City/Country game. Yeah i can understand the QLD situation. But remember when big Mal coaches the Maroons they have training camps with about 40-45 potential players for Origin. They go and blend the players together and get familiar with one another. NSW doesn’t really do that because sure they play City Country but they don’t really have a set structure and keep chopping and changing the squads every year. (This year may be different as Ricky Stuart is the full time Origin coach and named a potential squad months ago). Plus QLD have 5 or 6 players that they have built around over the past 5 years which include players in the key 1, 6, 7 and 9 positions including Slater, Thurston, Lockyer, Inglis etc the list goes on. Plus last friday 10 or 11 of the Australian squad was QLDers so it just goes to show the ‘depth’ they have as a unit.

        As the USARL i wonder what’s going on with them. Hopefully we hear more news in the coming weeks with them. Be interesting to see what happens with the East v West game.

      • druzik says:

        I think you hit the nail on the head right there… QLD have built combinations over the years, even when they were losing they didn’t knee jerk and do whole sale changes the way NSW did, that way they were able to work and combine eventaully to have the team they have.

        NSW biggest issue has been that our selectors have been incompetent by having these knee jerk reactions. You need a bit of pain to get a lot of gain.

        I will see what I can find out on the USARL.

  3. deluded pom? says:

    Is there any evidence that Eagletag is actually played on an organised basis or is it just an ad hoc thing played as and when/if enough kids can be rounded up? The AMNRL All-Time Team is only open to any current player or official who is NOT aligned with the USARL. I can’t figure out why though.

    • druzik says:

      Good Question, when I go to WotS I will be able to answer that question. Certainly outside of that weekend you tend to never hear anything about Eagle tag being played anywhere else.

      Maybe someone else may know more and come on here and give us some info?

      As for the All American Team… agian I can see your point, despite the split you had players that did play in the AMNRL and should be recognised… but I can also see the AMNRL’s point too… its a frustrating situation.

  4. Interested Observer says:

    I struggle to see the point of excluding players from the All Time list who have clearly been standout performers for the USA over many years, purely because they are now aligned with the USARL. That is not a true reflection of the best players on that list when names are omitted because those players decided the AMNRL was perhaps no longer the best RL vehicle for them and they were wanting to do something different.

    Where is the recognition for their efforts, achievements and contributions to RL in the USA? Do you just wipe them because they moved on? Ridiculous.

    Now, before ‘Major’ jumps on my comment as being USARL aligned and that I am anti-AMNRL, that is not true. I have said before, I am friends with players and administrators in both camps and know a lot about what has gone on. I am not anti-AMNRL at all, I just don’t like to see things done in such a poor manner. It makes those involved with the AMNRL look petty and unprofessional and I would have hoped they’d be sick of people saying that about them by now.

    They’d have earned much more respect by including the appropriate names on their All Time list.

  5. Kingsland7 says:

    Great Blog!

    I had to laugh at Nick Bryant’s comments, and the fact that International RL seems to get criticised regardless if Australia is dominating or ‘strangely’ losing.

    I do feel City v Country has a rightful future. It just needs to be plugged into the right structure. I have always felt there should be a mid year break from NRL Club Games to play representative football for many reasons.

    1. Break could happen during coldest and wettest period, a time that is unfavourable for crowds.
    2. It gives players the chance to recover from injuries
    3. It breaks momentums, say if your team was on a losing streak, there is every chance that they can come back after the break ‘fired up’.
    4. it builds interest for the first game back after the break, and should stimulate crowds accordingly.

    If the break was 3 weeks off for example, you could play all 3 origins (both NSW/QLD and potentially NZ South Island V North or Kiwis V PI) then after the Kiwis could meet australia for ANZAC test. then back to NRL with no distractions as it should be.

    what do you reckon??

    • druzik says:

      Quite possibly… I just don’t know how the clubs will react. Remember that the NRL is still predominantly an Aussie competition, and making players play in non aussie games like the NZ nth v sth could put them out of place saying that too many players are risking being injured… it would be a nice thing to have but but I can see the NRL club hypocrisy getting in the way.

  6. Chris Sanders says:

    The Anzac Test made a profit so no need to get rid of it even though the Kiwis played poorly and deserved to lose by more.There were no excuses and we can’t help it here in the shakey isles that the selectors picked the wrong players,got it all wrong and our style of football was all wrong as well and no need for the haka as well.A load of old boots.It’s a football team and not a Maori Cultural party.Time to boot it firmly into touch for once and for all.
    However,on a postive note,Silverwood is the best referee in the world by a country mile and no need for 2 referees either.Only 2 or 3 penalties in the whole game Daniel.
    It should be scrapped for the good of the game because they tried it once in the 40’s with no success.
    We have already got 2 linesmen patrolling the touchline and corner posts plus 2 video refs and many referees in the stands.How many do they want?

  7. Chris Sanders says:

    Well NFL is the best football code in the world and of course we could learn from them, but the trouble is outside Doyle or maybe Tas our administrators wouldn’t be able to comprehend a thing.

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