WELSH Rugby League officials and players have responded to the comments made by BBC presenter John Inverdale on Radio Five Live's "Any Sporting Questions" programme broadcast on Monday night at Spotlands, the home of Rochdale Hornets RLFC and venue for this weekend's Arriva Trains Cup Final.Inverdale had happily taken a comment from the floor about Rugby League's inability to 'expand'. A Rochdale Hornets' club member then came back with the fact that National League Two has Gateshead and London Skolars in it, National League Three has teams like Birmingham and St Albans in it, the Summer Conference has teams from Tyneside to South Wales and new teams such as Bedford are coming through all the time.He then commented: "With respect, Bedford's just thirteen blokes running round a field, it's not proper Rugby League."He later followed up these comments by saying in writing, "Don't ever pretend that people outside its heartland have any real affinity for the game."Welsh Rugby League Chairman, Danny Sheehy dismissed Inverdale's statements as "ridiculous" commenting, "Is he seriously suggesting that a sport that has attracted clubs and teams in every age group and in every region of the UK has no-one who cares about it outside Yorkshire and Lancashire? How then does he believe that clubs like Bedford started in the first place? I suggest that it is as a result of someone, more likely a group of people, who enjoy the sport enough to give their valuable time to it."In Wales we are extremely pleased with the way the sport is developing. While not Super League yet, the standard we have achieved in such a short time is breathtaking. Matches are regularly played at top class grounds, Aberavon, Pontypridd and Maesteg to name a few."The clubs are attracting top class players and officials from all over South Wales to their ranks, including Internationals at both rugby codes.Crowds are comparable with and often exceed all but the highest standard of rugby union. Does this suggest that people outside its heartland haven't any real affinity for the game'? I think not."In Rugby League over the years we have become used to pro-Rugby Union commentators abusing their position to denigrate our sport. This is an unfortunate fact of life. I feel sorry for these people that they feel the need to be destructive rather turn their energy to something constructive and worthwhile."To end on a positive note, every time someone like Mr Inverdale makes such a comment, Rugby League gets valuable publicity outside the heartlands and always seems to emerge stronger. So, I would urge him to keep up the good work!"When hearing the statement from Inverdale, the Bridgend Blue Bulls player-coach and former Wales and Great Britain international, Kevin Ellis commented, "Has John ever played Rugby League in Wales or even at all? If he thinks that Conference Rugby League is just 13 men passing a ball around then I'd like to invite him down to Bridgend for a try-out and to put his body where his mouth is."We had 15,000 Welshmen at the recent Rugby League Challenge Cup Final in Cardiff. If that's not an affinity for the game outside the 'heartland', I don't know what is?"
SATURDAY, July 17th 2004
NSWRL VB Premier League
Newtown plays away to Balmain
Kick-Off: 5.30 pm.
This match is a curtain-raiser to the Wests-Tigers v Melbourne Storm NRL match.
If you can't be at Leichhardt, keep up with the progress scores on your Rugby League station 2GB.
Sunday, July 18th 2004
EDSACC Oval, The Entrance
NSWRL Jim Beam Cup
Newtown plays away to The Entrance
Kick-Off: 2.45 pm
ROUND 11 of New Zealand's Bartercard Cup looks set to be wet games for all of the round with all of the country experiencing rain this weekend. Two top teams fight it out on Sunday afternoon at Ericsson before the Warriors NRL game with the Rabbitohs. Other games will have team vying for the all elusive Top 5 positions as we count down to play off time.
WARRINGTON Wolves have signed Kiwi international and New Zealand Warriors winger Henry Fa'afili, 24 on a 3 year deal.
Henry, who was in born in Apia, Western Samoa, will come in under the Kolpak Ruling. Fa'afili has played his entire professional rugby league at New Zealand Warriors making his first grade debut against Sydney Roosters in 2000. His international career has included appearances for Samoa in the 2000 World Cup and the Kiwis from 2001-2003, in which he has made 10 appearances.
Henry is a proven try scorer having scored a hatrick in the New Zealand 30-16 defeat of GB in the 1st Test (09/11/02) of the Kiwi Tour in 2002 at Ewood Park, Blackburn. His latest Test appearance was last year against Australia, in which he scored a try. He has made 92 career appearances for the New Zealand Warriors scoring 37 tries to date, which include 11 appearances and 2 tries this season. Head Coach Paul Cullen commented, "We are delighted to capture a player of Henry's standing within the game. To sign a current international sends a clear signal to everybody involved with our club that our long term plans to take us to the next level are in place. Henry's pace, power, agility and try scoring prowess are assets that would grace any club in Super League."We are currently in negotiation to secure a short term arrangement for the remainder of this season."
LONDON Broncos will return home to Griffin Park on Sunday after almost two months on the road, to face Tetley's Super League leaders, Leeds Rhinos. And the good news for London fans does not end there; Tony Rea will welcome back three key players for the homecoming and will name the final seventeen on match day.Russell Bawden has arrived back at the club and will look to make his 132nd top-flight appearance for London, in what will be his third stint in the capital. Also set to make his first appearance for the Broncos this season is England 'A' International Rob Purdham after missing the first eighteen rounds following knee surgery, and Andrew Hart will return after a seven-week absence through injury. Tony Rea, who will be assisted by Rohan Smith - nephew of Leeds coach Tony Smith, is delighted to be heading back to Brentford: "It's a great feeling playing before your own people and I can already sense the excitement in the squad." It's a reward for a lot of hard work for the players returning from injury and they will add a timely boost to our unit." It should be a great event on Sunday. The leaders are coming to town, London supporters will get to see their own team on their home pitch, and I know there is a load of activity surrounding the game itself on the day." Rob Purdham added: "It's been a real tough battle to getback but I have always known that it would be well worth the effort. I can't wait to get out there and finally be able to help my mates."
Before the game Broncos CEO Nic Cartwright will host a special London Broncos Fans' Form which will start at 1pm. All London fans are welcome to attend but must have a valid match ticket to do so. The Broncos will also donate part proceeds from match day ticket sales to Sport Relief. Simply turn upon the day wearing a red sock (similar to that worn by the team on their private parts last week) on your foot, and the club will donate a portion from every premium adult ticket bought on the day. Kick off is 3pm. Gates open at 1pm. Discounted tickets can be bought before 5pm Friday 16th July - 0871 2221657. Team as follows: Sykes, Wells, Roy, Jackson, Greenwood, O'Halloran, Moran, Moore, Budworth, Trindall, Brocklehurst, Botham, Retchless: Stringer, Highton, Stephenson, Kirkpatrick, Purdham, Hart, Bawden (three to be omitted) London Broncos Junior Academy will play Featherstone at new home venue Ruislip RUFC at 2.30 on Saturday. Directions to the ground can be found atwww.londonbroncos.co.uk
In other news:
As London Broncos prepare to return home to Brentford this Sunday, after six long weeks on the road, Chief Executive Nic Cartwright has today hit out at comments made during the week by leading BBC presenter John Inverdale, and rugby league journeyman, Bobby Goulding. The programme 'Any Sporting Questions' on Radio 5 Live, raised the issue of rugby league expansion, and more specifically, rugby league in London. Cartwright has no problem with broadcasters expressing opinion but he does object to the presentation of clearly inaccurate facts. The pair made comments to the effect that rugby league should be more interested in protecting the game in its northern heartlands rather than looking at expansion. Saying that the London Broncos 'experiment' has been a flop, proving that there is no market for rugby league in the capital, has certainly infuriated many London fans, and Cartwright himself. "They can say what they like as long as they are intelligent enough to back up those statements with fact." Telling people that our average crowd is 1500, that our support is only drawn from expatriate Australians, and that all our players are Australian, is a clear case of ignorance." If John cares to look at the 'facts' here they are. Our research tells us that our Australian match day audience is less than 15%, and this season of the 23 man squad, just eight are Aussies." I don't like people talking our club or the game in London down. And I particularly don't like people shooting their mouth off from a position of ignorance." If John would like to come and be our guest at Griffin Park on Sunday, it might be a good opportunity for him to see just how much hard work goes into helping our game grow outside of the heartlands." Rugby League is a cracking game and deserves a much wider audience in the UK and on an International scale, and attitudes like this certainly don't help our cause." In no way is this a criticism of the BBC which is a terrific partner for our game, but I am disappointed at the comments which were made."If John, and others who haven't been to a Broncos game this season, do turn up, here's what you can expect: Nic Cartwright will host a London Fans' Forum pre-match from 1pm. This is open to all rugby league fans in London and a valid match ticket will be needed to attend. London Broncos Junior Academy, who play against Featherstone at Ruislip on Saturday, will undertake a bucket collection for their injured teammate Matt King. The Broncos will donate part proceeds from premium adult ticket sales on the day to Sport Relief. To contribute, simply wear a red sock and show it to the turnstile staff. We are not interested in socks worn on any other part of the anatomy - for more details visit www.londonbroncos.co.uk
More than 200 children who recently participated in the five week Hounslow & Ealing Summer Festival of League will be at the game. Forty budding Cowgirls will represent their respective Cheer-Dance Clubs on the pitch pre-match and at half time. For the first time we'll meet the Brook Road Broncos, with the club agreeing to open a third stand for the match. The 'I'm A League Fan...Get Me In There!' competition will be launched with one fan at the game selected to WIN the �1500 10th Birthday Party Pack. Our Half Time Heroes representing the county of Kent will strut their stuff.And last but certainly not least the gorgeous high kicking Cowgirls will dazzle those in attendance. Kick off is 3pm. Gates open at 1pm. Discounted tickets can be bought before 5pm Friday 16th July - 0871 2221657.
THIS week's Bulls Eye features Brian Noble and Joe Vagana who look ahead to Friday's Round 19 game at the JJB Stadium when the Bulls travel to Wigan to take on the Warriors in one of the games of the season.
THIS HAS GOT TO BE ONE OF THE GAMES OF THE SEASON
It is and it�s also just another game with two points at stake. Wigan are going really well at the JJB, they are unbeaten there this year and they will see it as a big opportunity to continue that record and pick up two points along the way. Everyone in Wigan will have been talking about the game and how we have depleted side but we are going there with a lot of confidence.
Wigan have been playing well and they certainly won�t fear anyone, particularly at home. They have got Carney back and that will lift them and he adds to a very pacy back line. Their half backs are playing well and Craig Smith has been doing the business for them. Newton and Farrell are World Class players who can hurt you if you let them.
I was really pleased with the way we played last week but we know that it gets tougher from herein and we will have to be at the very top of our game to have any chance of defeating a side very much on song.
WIGAN HAVE A VERY TOUGH FRONT ROW.
They are going very well at the moment, Craig Smith has stood up to be counted because they have lost a couple of Front Rowers. It�s lucky for us we have an extra Front Rower on the Wing in Les. He is a little bit faster than the rest of us but he is the same weight and does the same job when he�s needed.
They have also got great pace out wide with Dallas and Carney on the wing and Hodgson in the Centre but we have got pace and size and I am sure our backs will be up to the task that�s placed before them.
We have few players out with injury and suspension but we have some good young players who like to step up and they have shown before they can grab their chance with both hands. I am sure that Iestyn coming into the squad, whether he starts or comes off the bench, will give us all a big lift in what is sure to be a great game.
The Bulls, who will lack Paul Johnson, Tevita Vaikona, Michael Withers, Toa Kohe Love through injury and Karl Pratt through suspension, have added Aaron Smith and Chris Bridge to the squad that defeated Wakefield last week.
Squad: Reardon, Andy Smith, Aaron Smith, Vainikolo, Harris, Vagana, Pryce, Paul, Swann, Radford, Hape, Deacon, Parker, Langley, Fielden, Anderson, Peacock, Bridge
Lesley Vainikolo has scored 63 tries in only 70 appearances for the Bulls
Paul Deacon has kicked 74 goals from 93 attempts for an average of 79.57%
BULLS EYE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MEDIA DEPARTMENT OF BRADFORD BULLS RUGBY CLUB.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT STUART DUFFY OR JAMES BRAMMER ON 01274 762315.
BRITISH international Adrian Morley has scored a sensational match-winning try to see the Sydney Roosters home by 18-14 over a gallant St George Illawarra Dragons outfit tonight.
THE Sydney Roosters are pleased to add another young up and coming back rower to their playing roster for 2005.
THE New Zealand Warriors and Kiwi international winger Henry Fa'afili is to leave the NRL club at the end of the season after signing a three-year deal with Warrington in the English Super League.
THE Bulldogs have received delivery of the special 70 Year Commemorative Jersey. This fantastic jersey is sure to be a popular item and with only a small number produced sales are expected to be busy at the Bulldogs TeamStores over the next couple of days.
A 16th franchise will be forced to field a "reserve grade" side unless the NRL grants it a dispensation to negotiate with off-contract players before next year's proposed October anti-tampering deadline.
THE Wests Tigers have beaten the Melbourne Storm 32-18 in a passionate performance at Leichardt Oval.
THE Newcastle Knights have today agreed to terms with exciting rookie George Carmont for the 2005 season.
IN-FORM Fone Zone Canberra Raiders half Mark McLinden could be ruled out of tomorrow's crunch match against the Penrith Panthers, after coming down with the flu this week.
AFTER overcoming an eleventh hour fitness test today Storm five-eighth Scott Hill will line up for his 150th NRL match tomorrow night when Melbourne takes on the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.