BBC Sport | Rugby League | UK Edition


Monday, 24 April 2017


Two new sides and the return of three other teams will see a strengthening of the domestic competition in Ireland in 2017, which kicks off next month.
In Northern Ireland Belfast Eagles, who have been solely running junior rugby league have now extended to include an open age side within their setup. They will join the existing three Ulster teams to make a four-team championship, whilst in the south Galway Bay Pirates will make their debut.
The Pirates will play friendlies in their inaugural season and will be dual registered with neighbours and current champions Galway Tribesmen to assist in their development.
Meanwhile, in the North, a trio of familiar names return.
“There is a feeling of nostalgia and progress for the upcoming season,” says Ulster provincial official Steve Hogan. “Limerick’s finest, Treaty City Titans, return after a troubled 2016 season which culminated in the team standing down mid-season. They come back hoping to return to former glories and are joined by Ballyfermont Bears from West Dublin and Waterford Vikings.”
The Bears were last seen in 2015 whilst Waterford return after a hiatus of several years and are effectively new setup led by current international winger Alan McMahon. He was part of the All Ireland winning Galway Tribesmen last year and his two solo efforts went a long way to securing the team their maiden title.
Hogan continues: “The Eagles adult setup will play out of the colourfully named Orangefields. Added to the eight-team competition in the Republic of Ireland, there has been an upsurge of 150 percent in competitive team numbers and, along with the Pirates, there may be further developments in the very near future in terms of additional non-competitive teams.”
The governing body is putting additional emphasis on the completion of more championship matches. Last year, the combined competitions saw 67% of all regular season fixtures completed compared to only 56% in 2015. The collapse of Treaty City was the main reason for the bulk of walkover fixtures in 2016 and there is great belief that the 2017 season will be robust.
Underpinning it, the U19s of both Northern Ireland Elks and the Republic of Ireland Eagles have been active since January, as have the U16 Irish Wolfhounds. The first fixture took place recently at Ashbourne RFC between the ROI Eagles U19s and the West of England Lionhearts, with the visitors taking the game 36-32 in an enthralling encounter.
Expansion comes on the back of the national team qualifying for the 2017 World Cup, their squad containing a number of domestically-based players.
Since obtaining full Sport Ireland recognition two years ago, RLI has committed unequivocally to growing the sport’s appeal throughout its local stakeholders, a prime example of that strategy being the rule introduced locally stipulating that all national teams must have a sizeable domestic quota of players irrespective.
Hogan adds: “Belief in Ireland is that the game is on the up and with the Wolfhounds at the World Cup, there is genuine excitement from all involved.”

Friday, 21 April 2017


Italian rugby league club Saluzzo Roosters have completed their debut season in French competition, celebrating by winning their final match of the campaign.
The town, situated in the north west 40km from the French border, played in the French Federation’s Provence Alpes-Côte d’Azur championship and completed their season with a 26-16 victory in the final match against St Martin XIII, triggering euphoric scenes in the Centro Sportivo di Manta.
Elio Giacoma, coach of the Roosters, was ecstatic after leading his side on an unprecedented journey, labelling it, “a wonderful adventure.”
“I am so proud of my boys,” he said. “We ended the season with an unexpected victory. We took so many risks with this decision and were aware of all the difficulties to start a new life in rugby league. We invested lot of time to start this new adventure but we had great return, not just with the final weekend victory, but the whole region answered our call and supported us.”
FIRL and the club began negotiations with FFRXIII in August 2016 and the Roosters lost their first match 50-10 against Caumont last November but noticeably improved despite some heavy defeats.
“We started this project with humility knowing the hard work we had to do,” continued Giacoma, “Our goal was to create a stable club in the rugby league world and to grow. Having new players on board such Gioele Celerino and Mirco Bergamasco [both Italian internationals] can only help our development. We saw lot of interest in us, not just from the media, but from sponsors, the public administration, fans – it shows us we are going are on the right path. We want to thank both federations, France and the Federazione Italiana Rugby League, for this big opportunity and for all support they gave us during this season.”
FIRL vice president Tiziano Franchini, who played in France with Chatillon and then Corbeille, offered his congratulations for Saluzzo’s first season in new waters. The side originally played in the Italian domestic competition as the North West Roosters, joining in 2013.
“It is a great moment for the Italian rugby League movement,” he said. “We are very proud of what the Roosters have achieved and thank all those involved in this project, especially to Elio Giacoma who is the soul of the club. Our aim as a federation is to have at least 20 people like him involved to continue to expand rugby league in Italy.”

Thursday, 20 April 2017


Rotterdam Pitbulls begin the defence of their NRLB title this weekend when they face newcomers Harderwijk Dolphins. In the other match to open proceedings, Amsterdam Cobras play host to Den Haag Knights.
This season the teams will meet each other home and away for the Minor Premiership with the top two then contesting the Championship title and the others battling for third place in a double-header Grand Final, in Rotterdam on 10 June.
NRLB development officer Jason Bruygoms, who is also player/coach of the of the Pitbulls said at the season launch: 
“After an undefeated 2016 season, our main focus is to retain our title and, with more challenges than last year, we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Lou Benders of the Amsterdam Cobras commented: 
“Having trained all year round and played winter games which were lots of fun, the guys have grown and improved as a team. We also have some fresh new talent and now a steady base of league-only players to hopefully compete for a place in the top two.”
“We are really eager to get started,” noted Adam Bakker of Harderwijk Dolphins. 
"We might not have the experience or size compared to the other teams but we want to show our competitiveness, passion, great team spirit and fit and fast players. Our ambition is to end up at least third in the competition and make sure that every opponent has to give it their best to beat us.”
Den Haag Knights are looking to set up a members scheme with the aim of making them the best supported club in the country. Stalwart Ian Thompson commented: 
“With two Grand Final defeats behind us in three years, the club is aiming to go one better in 2017.”
Thijs van der Zouwen, chairman of the Nederlandse Rugby League Bond added: 
“The NRLB is very excited about the upcoming season. We’ll have more games than ever before. It promises to be close with Amsterdam and Harderwijk making progress in the off-season and ready to take on traditional strongholds Rotterdam and The Hague.”

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Malta victorious over the Philippines

The Malta Knights emerged victorious over the Philippines Tamaraws in their recent international encounter at the New Era Stadium in Cabramatta.
Down 16 – 10 at half time, Malta were lucky not to have more points put on them with the amount of ball turned over.

Whilst calling the shots in the number 9 jersey for the Philippines, Hooker Luke Srama showed his experience in a physical opening encounter.

Two different teams emerged after the interval, as Malta Captain Jake Attard steadied the ship with his direction out of dummy-half. Rookie 19 year old Joel Bradford, who was called into the squad at the last minute, stood tall at fullback, offering great support play and safety under the high ball.

Fellow debutant, Luke Cauchi exploded onto the International scene bagging four tries in a memorable performance. Newcastle Knights back rower Ben Stone was used off the interchange bench and changed the game with his talk and defence, whilst two-time Malta Knight Nathan Falzon looked dangerous every time he touched the ball.

Knights were the dominant team in the final quarter of the match, running out 44 – 26 winners.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Indigenous All-Stars War Cry 2017

I suppose this is meant as a response to the increasingly ridiculous NZ haka

It has been suggested, by Greg Inglis amongst others, that The Kangaroos should use this or possibly revive their War Cry.

I thought it was embarrassing