Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
12 hours ago
SKOLARS KICK-OFF BOLSTERED BY NEW SIGNINGS
Skolars kick-off their pre-season warm-up games this Sunday when they entertain Pro-Plumb Essex Eels at New River Stadium. This will be the first meeting between the two sides, with the Eels awaiting news of whether they have been admitted to National League 3. After two months of winter training the friendly gives new coaches Marcus Tobin and Alex Smits the first opportunity to see their charges in a competitive environment. It will also give Skolars' fans their first chance to see the club's new signings ahead of their first Arriva Trains Cup game against Doncaster at the end of the month.
Debuting alongside new signings already announced such as Peter Hannan and John Rua will be several players signed this week. Skolars have returned to the student game that is their roots for two of the signings. Tim Butterfield is a 22 year old full-back/winger originally from Castleford, who recently graduated from the University of Central England, having represented England Student and Great Britain Emerging Students. Butterfield appeared for the Skolars in the Conference last season. Andrew Gould was part of last of last season's Student Rugby league champion side Loughborough University and the 22 year old is a versatile centre who can also play in the second row.
Skolars have moved slightly further afield in the Student game with Brad MacFarlane, a 21 year old stand-off from Sydney. Having represented New South Wales at schoolboy Rugby Union, MacFarlane gained rugby league representative honours whilst at Sydney University with the New South Wales Student side, touring Tonga and Fiji, including games against their full national sides.
Some more new faces will also be playing on Sunday, and are likely to be signed in the next week. Further details will follow in forthcoming reports.
The game will also see the return of former Skolars player and junior coach Stuart Hogg to New River. Hogg is now head coach of the Eels and has been instrumental in setting up the Basildon based club.
The game on Sunday will start at 1pm and admission is free.
WEST INDIES TO COMPETE IN MX9'S
The West Indies 9's side will be making a visit to New River Stadium in 2004, with the team having their application for the Middlesex 9's confirmed.
Whilst the body governing the Middlesex 9's has not yet confirmed if the West Indies will gain a position instantly in the main stage of the tournament which will be held on July 18, or will have to participate in the qualification tournament, the WIRLF is very pleased to know that it will play a game in July as part of its 2004 representative season.
Full details of the 2004 event will be confirmed within the next few months.
The Middlesex 9's is part of the Rugby League 9's Grand Prix, which also involves the York 9's in Northern England and the Lezignan 9's in France. The tournament was won by the Royal Engineers in 2003, after they defeated the hosts, the London Skolars in the final.
The West Indies Rugby League Federation wishes to thank 1895 International for its assistance in helping the organisation gain entry into the tournament.
SKOLARS FINISH THIRD IN CLUB OF THE YEAR
Whilst Skolars may have finished at the bottom of National League 2 last season, their efforts in their first year as a professional side were recognised by rugby league fans across the nation, when they came joint third in a poll conducted by Rugby League and League Express newspaper to find the club of the year. Skolars shared their position with Super League club Warrington Wolves, with double Super League and Challenge Cup champions Bradford Bulls coming out on top, just ahead of Skolars' NL 2 rivals York City Knights. "This shows how much we achieved last season", commented Skolars' Press Officer, Andrew Jackson, "it's great to realise that supporters of other clubs, especially those in the Super League can see the hard work put in on and off the field last year".
Skolars would like to thank all of you who took part in the poll.
Referee's Course - 24/25th January -Any potential referee's out there? This course is being held at Feltham College and cost of the course is ?25. Those interested should contact Ashley Klein on 07730 568 048.
MODIFIED GAMES COACHING COUSE - A modified games coaching course will be held on March 13/14th 2004 at New River Stadium, Wood Green in conjunction with the London Skolars. The cost of the two- day course will be ?52. Contact the London Skolars office on 0208 8888 488 for further details.