RUGBY League Ireland chairman Dave Southern believes next week's inaugural Irish 'Roses' clash is a a key building block in the Emerald Isle's assault on the 2008 World Cup.
Teams representing Irish exiles based in Lancashire and Yorkshire will meet at Oldham St Annes on Sunday 20 February in a game that has been arranged by the Irish Democratic League, in association with RLI, to strengthen ties with the homeland.
Southern believes the fixture will help cement the bond between RLI and the large number of clubs in the north of England with strong Irish heritage, and will help broaden Ireland's talent pool ahead of the 2008 World Cup in Australia.
Southern explained: "We're obviously committed to developing homegrown talent - as the continued growth of the RLI Conference will demonstrate - but we're aware of the contribution that exiled athletes have made to Irish sport as a whole, and we intend to build a strong exiles network in rugby league that will underpin the excellent work that is going on at home.
"English-born players such as Terry O'Connor, Barrie McDermott and Martin Crompton have already made a massive contribution to Irish Rugby League and events such as this will help us identify overseas-based talent at all levels of the game.
"In the long-term, we'd like to establish formal links with 'exiles' clubs in the UK and elsewhere, to provide a clear pathway for players with Irish heritage to aim for representative honours. We view this fixture as a very exciting development for Irish Rugby League."
The game kicks off at 12pm and will open the 2005 Manchester Irish Festival. The two teams, which will be made up of players from the Halifax Irish, Dewsbury Celtic, Huddersfield St Josephs and Oldham St Annes clubs, will compete for the Michael Davitt Challenge Bowl, with the presentations being made by Ms Amanda Bane of the Irish Embassy in London.
Dave Southern ? Rugby League Ireland 00353 087 672 7911.
Chris Clegg ? Lancs IDL clubs 01282 602186.
Sean Hussey - Oldham Irish Society 0161 620 9207.
THE New Zealand Sevens team performed extremely well, enduring very toughcompetition in hot conditions at the VB Sevens which was run by St Marys Leagues on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 February 2005 at the Western Weekender Sports Stadium in Sydney. The NZ Residents defeated by the hosts in the final by 22-8.
THE Sydney Airport Jets, reinforced by nine Cronulla-Sutherland players as part of the two clubs? 2005 partnership deal, finished too strongly for North Sydney in Saturday?s VB Premier League trial match at Henson Park. Newtown won 28-4, with several of the Sharks contingent among the stand-out performers. The match also doubled as the first leg of the annual three-game Frank Hyde Shield series between the two 1908 foundation Rugby League clubs.
TO All Newtown Jets Members and Supporters,
COME along and join the excitement of ?Tiger Tag?. A non-contact, 8 per side, Rugby League competition.
A revived Stacey Jones engineered a rare Vodafone Warriors pre-season success when they beat Parramatta 20-10 in a rugby league trial in New Plymouth today.
THE Development Application to install upgraded floodlighting at Oki Jubilee Stadium was unanimously approved by Kogarah Council tonight, providing Saints fans with a luminous St.Valentine?s Day present.
THE Real Rabbitohs is pleased to announce its team to play in the 2005 Video Ezy Charity Shield this Saturday night, February 19, kicking off at 8pm.
BRISBANE?S youngsters showed their more illustrious clubmates will have plenty of pressure on them this season, romping home 48-12 in the season?s opening trial against South Sydney?s premier league side in Bundaberg.
ST Marys-Penrith Cougars won the VB Sevens today at St Marys. Results were:
WESTS Tigers Head Coach, Tim Sheens has announced his squad for the Trial Game against Manly at Leichhardt Oval, Saturday 19th February kick off at 6pm.
SUPER League newcomers Leigh face a long, hard season in the top flight after suffering a comprehensive opening 30-12 home defeat by Huddersfield.
THE Rugby Football Union and Wigan can confirm that discussions are taking place regarding the possible signing of Andrew Farrell.
LONDON Broncos got off to a winning start with a 28-24 victory over Warrington Wolves in an exciting encounter at Griffin Park.
WAKEFIELD Wildcats, the Super League surprise packet of 2004, picked up from where they left off with a stunning 28-16 victory at 2003 champions Bradford.