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Scotland Rugby League celebrated their tenth anniversary today by announcing the return of professional international rugby league to the country as Scotland take on Wales in the European Nations Cup at Glasgow Hawks' Anniesland ground on Sunday 24 October. Scotland will then face Ireland in Navan on Friday 29 October with the group winners facing the winners of the England, France and Russia group in the final at Warrington on Sunday 7 November.
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Founded on 6 September 1994 at a meeting in Portobello, Scotland had been playing League for seven years at student level but had not formed an official association until then. Among the founder members were former Wales interna tional John Risman, London Skolars chairman Hector McNeil, and current RFL World Class Performance Director Graeme Thompson.
"Ten years existence is a significant landmark for the game in Scotland," said Thompson, who has the honour of being the only Scot to be capped for his country at amateur, Students and full level. "In that time many thousands of players, young and old have been introduced to the game. I have been lucky enough to be involved in a number of events and teams with Scotland Rugby League and it has meant an awful lot to me. I look forward to the future and in particularly seeing the young kids coming through who have played from an early age. It is no doubt a good sign that coinciding with this anniversary, a young player , David Crangle, has become the first Scottish player to be selected for the Rugby league National camp. That signals an even better next ten years."
Kevin Rudd, who has played for and coached Scot land amateurs and Students and is about to begin his new Development role with the European Federation, added: "There is a pathway developing for young Scotsman to reach the top in Rugby League and the future has great potential if we can carry on attracting the interest of volunteers, Sports Councils, sponsors, players and coaches to provide opportunities in the sport."
SCOTLAND RETURN TO GLASGOW:
Scotland's professional rugby league team will return to Glasgow to face Wales in the European Nations Cup on Sunday 24 October. The game will take place at Glasgow Hawks' Anniesland ground, where Scotland played Ireland last year, with the Bravehearts' second group game taking them to Ireland on the following Friday night, 29 October. That game will be at Navan RFC, where Scotland A beat Ireland A last month. The holders England travel to both Russia and France in the other group with the winners meeting in the European Nations Cup Fi nal at Warrington's new Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday 7 November, screened live by Sky Sports.
New Scotland coach Steve McCormack is busy putting the finishing touches to his squad which will include more homegrown players than ever before alongside several Super League stars. But the hopes of Scotland captain Wayne McDonald being included are diminishing rapidly with every performance for league leaders Leeds Rhinos. The second row forward is expected by many pundits to make the Great Britain squad for the Gillette Tri-Nations tournament against Australia and New Zealand at the same time as the European Nations Cup.
"Wayne McDonald is playing as well as I have seen him play," said Leeds coach Tony Smith. "I know he would be a handful for the Aussies. One of the strengths of the Australians is that they pick players on form and you would have to say a lot of our guys have been in pretty good form and consistent."
McDonald could be one of three Scotland internationals in Brian Noble's Great Britain squad. Hull stand-off Richard Horne is a certainty and St Helens centre Lee Gilmour is likely to be included. Scotland coach McCormack will name his squad next week.
The full fixture list for the 2004 European Nations Cup is: 16 October Russia v France, Moscow Olympic Stadium (ko 3pm, Russian time) 17 October Wales v Ireland, Aberavon RUFC (ko 2.30pm) 24 October Russia v England, Moscow Olympic Stadium (ko 3pm, Russian time) 24 October Scotland v Wales, Glasgow Hawks RFC (ko 3pm) 29 October Ireland v Scotland, Navan RFC (ko 7.30pm) 30 October France v England, Avignon (ko 8pm French time) 7 November European Nations Cup Final at Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington (ko 1.45pm)