THREE-QUARTERS of the way through the Super League season and the British fans and press are beginning to turn their attention to the forthcoming tri-nations series. The question many of us are asking is: given the massacre in last season?s final, is there any realistic hope for a Great Britain victory? I think there is. Although if we turn out the same old players we will probably get thrashed in the same old way, if Brian Noble, the GB coach, is willing to give a chance to the younger talent which has emerged over the last couple of years then the Kangaroos could be on the receiving end for a change. However, for reasons that will emerge at the end of this article, I am not too hopeful.
ALEX Murphy is one of the most famous names in the history of Rugby League. In collecting a full set of available trophies, his feats on the field for St Helens, Leigh and Great Britain made him a legend in his own lifetime, a legend reinforced by successful coaching spells with Leigh, Wigan and St. Helens. However, here I am concerned to record a lesser known success of the great man?s career: as coach of Huddersfield between 1991 and 1994.
IMAGINE for a moment, that a sport has decided the future lies in abolishing its traditional clubs, deeply rooted in their communities, and replaced them with new teams. Nobody really cares about the new sides so a population, previously so passionate about that sport that in some ways it even defined their nationality, begins to lose interest and the game goes into a steep decline.
AMONGST British Rugby League?s so-called media experts there seems to be a widely accepted view that, in last years? Ashes series, Great Britain showed that they were closing the gap with Australia and have a real chance of beating the Old Enemy in the forthcoming tri-nations tournament. That?s very reassuring to those of us fans who, ignorant of the finer points of RL, thought we had been walloped 3-0 by a third choice Aussie team brilliantly led by an hitherto little regarded one-legged cripple called Kimmorley. In just over six weeks the tri-nations competition gets underway. With the GB squad due to be announced in a few weeks, this post examines GB?s prospects for that series, asking: can we expect more of the same or are there any realistic reasons for optimism that GB might win or at least at least avoid another whitewash?
AT the end of May, 2004 the Rugby Football League finally ended months of speculation and agreed that from 2006 a French side, Union Treiziste Catalane (UTC), should be invited to join the Tetley?s Super League. The decision has been widely welcomed amongst RL fans as a means to ensure the immediate survival, and eventual expansion, of the game in France. However, despite this general enthusiasm, the RL press described the vote to admit UTC as ?close?. No official figures appear to have been released , but given that Huddersfield argued openly against UTC?s admission, with occasional public murmurings of support from Salford, Wakefield, Warrington and, Widnes, it is likely that ?close? means that the vote was 7-5 in favour of UTC?s admission . This post examines why some clubs were opposed to UTC?s admission. It suggests that unless UTC prove competitive the RFL has created some potentially serious future problems.
AT the start of the 1909 season, the New South Wales Rugby League was losing the battle with the NSW Rugby Union for footballing supremacy in Sydney; yet by the end of 1910 RL was firmly established as the dominant code. This post recounts how a Wallabies v Kangaroos series played a crucial role in tipping the balance decisively in favour of the 13-a-side game.
A majority of Rugby League fans would probably identify the sport's Australian origins as 1908. Yet, 1907 is arguably an equally important date in Australian RL history. It was the year when the New South Wales Rugby League was formed, presided over its first games and began to plan the Premiership competition which was to evolve into today's NRL. This post outlines the story of those events.
MANY Rugby League (R.L.) fans will probably be at least vaguely familiar with the story of the game's origins: in 1895 at a meeting at the George Hotel in Huddersfield, 22 clubs broke away from the Rugby Football Union (R.F.U.) over arguments about 'broken-time' payments and formed the Northern Rugby Football Union (N.U.); similar arguments in Australia led to the formation of the New South Wales Rugby League (N.S.W.R.L.) in 1907; over the subsequent decades, changes to the laws of the game, enacted by the N.U. and the N.S.W.R.L. evolved a distinctive form of rugby football, known throughout the world from 1922 by its Australian title: Rugby League. However, possibly fewer fans will be aware of precisely why the broken-time debate could not be resolved, or why the breakaway bodies felt compelled to change the laws of the game to such an extent. In Rugby's Great Split, Tony Collins (currently, the official R.L. archivist) provides answers to these questions which should be of interest to R.L. supporters throughout the world.