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London Skolars are to take on the current World Champions Bradford Bulls in a groundbreaking pre-season friendly in Dublin in January. The National League 2 side will play a Bulls XIII select side at Blackrock College RFCs ground on Sunday 23 January with a 1.30pm kick-off.
It will be the first 2005 pre-season game for the Skolars and with a home fixture against London Broncos a fortnight later the club is clearly looking for tough opposition before their opening games in the Northern Rail Cup.
Skolars club chairman Hector McNeil now works in Dublin and this year has seen first hand the great strides that Rugby League Ireland have taken,
"This is an unbelievable fixture for the club, the Bulls and Rugby League Ireland. The Skolars are 10 years old in 2005 and what a great way to mark our birthday. This allied with our pre-season game against the Broncos is really showing how the club really does push the boundaries of Rugby League.
"I also think the game is exactly what rugby league needs in Ireland. Dublin is rugby mad and is crying out for a high profile game. The sell-out European Nations Cup game between Ireland and Scotland held in Navan in October proves that there is an appetite for League here. Given the burgeoning nature of the growth of the domestic game in Munster, Ulster and Leinster we expect a great crowd."
The game really shows the Bulls commitment to expanding the game both in London and Dublin. They really do open their doors to a wider fan base. Rugby League Ireland have also shown themselves to be one of rugby leagues new breed of administrators and shows preparations for the 2008 World Cup are going well.
I would encourage all Skolars and Bulls supporters to use the trip as an excellent excuse for a trip to Dublin. The nightlife is great and the January sales will be in full swing. This could become a great annual event in the rugby league calendar.
Rugby League Ireland Chairman Dave Southern said Rugby League Ireland is incredibly excited by this fixture.
"We feel that Ireland is ready for a high profile professional game such as this. The Bulls are committed partners of ours and have already spent time and finance promoting the game over here and have generated considerable interest.
"As it stands they are probably rugby leagues most progressive club. The Skolars on the other hand are relatively new kids on the block, but they are also modern and progressive in the way they are developing. They, like the Bulls, have been integral in developing rugby league in Ireland."
Blackrock rugby club as a venue shows how open rugby union is to rugby league and their support has been fantastic. I hope the UK based fans will come over to Dublin. Its a great city and realistically priced to get to.
For more information on this game and advance ticket booking please call + 44 208 888 8488 or email [email protected]