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Wales RL World Cup 2013/General News

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#421 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 11:39 AM

Iestyn Harris boosted by the addition of Tyson Frizell to his World Cup squad.


The St George Illawarra forward has been struggling with injury but has now joined up with the party, which is now up to its full compliment of 24 players after a space was left open for Frizell.


"Tyson arrived last night (Sunday) and he's been declared fit and healthy. He'll train with the team tomorrow," said Harris.


"Whether he's in a position to be vying for a starting position in the first game (against Italy on Saturday), we'll have to see. But Tyson is very committed to Wales and has been for a while. He's excited about this World Cup.


"He hasn't done any competitive training for the last three or four weeks so we'll have to see how he is."


The availability of Frizell, who made his international debut during the 2011 Four Nations Series, is a huge boost to Wales' chances of emerging from group D to make the quarter-finals.


Huddersfield prop Larne Patrick looks set to make his Wales debut alongside his club-mate Craig Kopczak, who is Wales captain.


Wigan regulars Gil Dudson and Ben Flower are also included and Harris is confident his forwards will be competitive when they face group opponents United States and Cook Islands.


"We've certainly got a pack that is capable of laying a good platform for us and that will be the emphasis for us," he added.


"We had eight days of a pre-tournament camp which was crucial to us so this week we've hit the ground running and everybody is excited and optimistic about the opportunity in front of them.


"The crucial thing for us is to get out of the group. We've got three difficult opponents. When you get through your group, then it's knockout football and that's where you want to be. When you are there, anything can happen.


"The challenge for us is to try and get our performances up to a very high standard over the first three games.


"The most difficult game is your first game and we're coming up against a team that has just beaten England so we're playing a side that has got good talent and a lot of confidence. That's a dangerous combination."


Harris was among the crowd at Salford on Saturday to witness qualifiers Italy pull off a shock 15-14 win over England.


"I'd say the result was a surprise - I expected England to be very strong and to dominate as the game progressed - but the performance wasn't a shock when you look at the quality and experience in that group," he said.


"We expected a lot from the Italians. I thought they were very dogged and competed extremely well.


"Our first two games are against two teams that have just beaten England and France so there's a big challenge in front of us."

#422 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 11:41 AM

Get Behind Wales this autumn and get up close and personal with the squad by sponsoring a player. Each squad member is available for £125 for the tournament with all valuable funds going to Wales' campaign for success.


You recieve...

  • Invite to the private after match reception in either Wrexham or Cardiff
  • A player issue training top
  • Two free tickets to Wales v USA
  • Signed squad photo
  • Recognition on WRL social media and the official website


For further information please email sponsorship@walesrugbyleague.co.uk or call 08432 896407 and speak to Hanna Clarke or Toby Adamson.

#423 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 11:44 AM

North Wales Crusaders are delighted to announce their first two new signings for 2014 in Craig and Karl Ashall from Championship rivals Halifax.

The brothers both have a wealth of experience playing at Championship level and they join the host of players who have already re-signed with the club on the squad list for next season.

Chief Executive Jamie Thomas said: “Clearly both players have a wealth of experience at this level and they are a major coup for the club.

“It’s great that these two are the first players that we’ve signed for next season – they both have quality.

“The recruitment side of things is continuing behind the scenes and we’ll only be looking to add further players of Karl and Craig’s quality.”

Hooker Craig Ashall, the eldest of the two brothers, said: “I’m really looking forward to it – it’ll be a good challenge for me.

“Clive and John are looking to do well next year – not just to survive in the league but to do well in it – so it should be good to be involved in.”

After two years with one of the Championship’s leading sides in Halifax, Ashall knows that Crusaders are entering a tough league, but it is one which he feels they can more than compete in.

He said: “It’s a tough league for sure; you’ve got some really good sides in there and a lot of good former Super League players who have moved down.

“I think it’s realistic for us not only to aim to survive in the league, but to do well in it and aim towards the play-offs.

“Certaily a good, tough pre-season with some real hard work will help us.

“You’ve got your Workington’s, Barrow’s, Whitehaven’s, Swinton’s, Keighley’s – and you’ll be looking to win a lot of those kind of games.

“When you play your top sides in the division, you need to look at where you are and try to test yourselves against the best.”

#424 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 11:46 AM

Wales captain Craig Kopzcak will lead his side out at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday for the start of the Rugby League World Cup – admitting he has tried to put it to the back of his mind.

Cross-code great Iestyn Harris, the Wales coach, gave the Huddersfield Giants star the armband over a year ago and since then Kopzcak has made the role his own.

“Iestyn took me aside before the autumn internationals last year and said he wanted me to be captain, I was absolutely over the moon,” said the 26-year-old.

“At the time I didn’t think that means I’ll be leading the boys out for the World Cup opener, I just got on with my job.

“But now it’s less than a week before the start of the tournament I’ve finally allowed myself to think about it – and there’s no doubt it will be the proudest moment of my career to date.”

Wales begin their World Cup campaign against an Italian side littered with National Rugby League stars – the Australia league which many argue is the toughest competition in the world.

While Kopzcak is certainly wary of the threat Italy – who shocked England to beat them 15-14 in a pre-World Cup friendly last weekend – pose he’s convinced his team have the firepower to start their World Cup campaign with a win.

“They are a bit of an unknown quantity,” said Kopzcak.

“They’ve got a lot of quality players but I don’t think they’ve played together that much.

“But there’s absolutely no way we will be underestimating them because of that.

“Our preparation under Iestyn has been so focused, so intense, the boys are just desperate to get going now.

“Iestyn is a winner, he has that winning mentality and he’s installing that in all of us.

“It’s giving us confidence that not only we can beat Italy and go on and win our group but that somewhere along the line we can cause a real upset.

“When I look around the squad there is some serious talent here and we all believe we can do some damage in this tournament.”

All being well Wales could meet co-hosts England in the quarter-finals at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham.

It’s a potentially mouth-watering tie but Kopzcak refuses to look too far ahead.

“It’s the old cliché we are taking each game at a time but it’s true.

“Of course I’ve thought about us qualifying from our group and the prospect of playing England.

“But there is so much rugby to be played between the first match and the quarter-finals.

“During the Super League season there was a bit of banter between some of the Welsh and English boys but that’s stopped now.

“Everyone is focusing on their own game and who their next opponents are.”

#425 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 12:22 PM

Wales Rugby League fans are being urged to get the new Welsh Jersey now and create a sea of red at the Millennium Stadium.


Demand has been so high for the new jersey our fantastic kit supplier Raging Bull have been working hard to ensure you have every opportunity to purchase the jersey in time for the game.


Should you be going to Cardiff this weekend the new Wales Rugby League shirt will be available in the following outlets:

-          In the Millennium Stadium at the official stalls

-          House of Fraser, Cardiff

-          Rugby Shop, Cardiff (opposite the castle)

-          Brewhouse, Mary Street, Cardiff (the official WRL meeting place for fans)

DW Sports will also be stocking the jersey at various outlets throughout Wales.


Buy the shirt online before Wednesday and you will be able to receive the jersey in time for the game. Buy online by clicking here.


Wales begin their 2013 Rugby League World Cup campaign on Saturday 26th October 2013 against Italy at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Kick off 4.30pm. Tickets are still available for the game and the price includes the opening ceremony and the England v Australia game.


What a day, what a game, what excitement!

#426 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 12:24 PM

Rugby League prop Gil Dudson is hoping to cap of an amazing year by making a huge impact at Rugby League World Cup 2013.


Wales kick off their campaign against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 4.30pm) as the global sporting event of 2013 gets underway in style.


The 23-year-old has enjoyed a tremendous season for Wigan Warriors, winning both the Challenge Cup and Super League title alongside fellow Welshman Ben Flower.


But Dudson says that representing Wales at the Rugby League World Cup 2013 would eclipse those amazing achievements.


“Winning one competition alone in any given year is unbelievable,” he said. “But to do the double this year has been a dream come true – I couldn’t have imagined it. To finish the season on a high by winning the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford and then to go straight into the Welsh camp with all my mates here has been fantastic.


“Preparations here with Wales have been going really well. We’ve had a good first week, the boys have really ripped into training and everyone has bought in to what we’re trying to achieve. We just can’t wait to start now.


“The squad is pretty familiar as we’ve had a good few years together now. Every boy dreams of playing in a World Cup so I’m really excited to play in one for Wales on home soil. It will cap off an amazing season and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.


“A lot of the players in the squad have come through together and have been around since 2008. The core group has been together for around five years now so we all know what it’s about.


“We’ve got some added experience and quality players going into the World Cup and we are hoping to achieve something. We’re in quite a tough group so we know the challenge that’s facing us.”


Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium will be the setting for a spectacular opening ceremony for the competition at 1.30pm, with England taking on Australia at 2.30pm before Wales entertain the Italians.


And as a proud Welshman, Dudson says it will be a dream come true to don the Welsh jersey at the famous stadium.


“It’s our national stadium and it will be a proud moment for me if I’m selected,” he said.


“I played there at Millennium Magic with the Crusaders in 2010 and we had a good win over Salford. It was a fantastic experience but the crowd wasn’t that big so the atmosphere wasn’t there.


“This time it’ll be different. With 50,000 people in the ground, it’s going to be fantastic this time around and hopefully I’ll be on the winning side again.


“As a kid, I went to Six Nations games and dreamed that one day, I would be running out there wearing the Welsh jersey. To get the opportunity to do that will be unbelievable with a good crowd there to cheer us on against Italy. If we can create the same atmosphere as Six Nations games, it’ll be awesome.”


Italy pulled off a shock last Saturday by beating a full strength England side 15-14 in a warm-up match.


And with another of Wales’ other opponents in this World Cup, USA, beating France last Friday, Dudson knows that it’ll be a tough competition.


“Italy have got a very good squad,” he said. “A lot of people have put their hands up to play for them, which always happens this time of year.


“They’ve got a talented side  - the likes of the Minechello brothers and Anthony Laffranchi so it’s going to be a big test for us. But we’ve got some good quality in our squad as well so it’s going to be a good contest.


“They turned England over last week so they’re not to be taken lightly. But we’ve done our homework on them and we’ll have to see what happens.


“USA went and turned France over and nobody expected that, but it’s the World Cup, teams are picking their best players and nobody’s going to be a walkover. We’re expecting a tough competition this year and that’s what we’ll get.”

#427 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 12:27 PM

North Wales Crusaders’ Skills Camps, supported by Glyndwr University and Magellan Aerospace, are back for this half-term.

The camps take place on 28 and 29 October (9am to 3pm) at Glyndwr University’s Sports Centre and are priced at £30 per price per course, which includes a free ticket to our next home game as well as discount on additional parent tickets.

Children taking part must be aged between 9 and 14 and will need to bring wet weather clothing, trainers, a jacket and a packed lunch and a drink.

You can book your place at the sessions by completing the attached form and returning it with either £30 cash or a cheque (made payable to ‘Glyndwr Innovations Ltd’) to the Glyndwr Sports Centre, or by visiting http://www.sport.glyndwr.ac.uk.

#428 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 05:46 PM

Very Wet Cardiff prepares for Saturday, banners all around City


#429 jannerboyuk

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 05:51 PM

Weather forecast is dryish for sat though
PROUD TO BE A MEMBER OF http://www.rugbyleaguecares.org/ and http://www.walesrugb...-wales-for-2013
Predictions for the future -
Crusaders RL to get a franchise for 2012 onwards -WRONG
Widnes Vikings also to get a franchise - RIGHT
Crusaders RL to do the double over Widnes and finish five places ahead of them -WRONG
Widnes Vikings NOT to dominate rugby league in years to come! STILL TO COME


I promise to pay �10 to the charity of Bomb Jacks choice if Widnes Millionaires finish above the battling underdogs Crusaders RL. I OWE A TENNER!

#430 Futtocks

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 01:02 PM

From Twitter today: 


Sport Swansea @SportSwans Swansea Uni Rugby League are in the lime light, check out ITV Wales at 6pm tomorrow featuring an interview with our boys. #studentrfl

Between the optimist & the pessimist
The difference is quite droll:
The optimist sees the doughnut,
The pessimist sees the hole.

#431 Wolford6

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 02:54 PM

Get Behind Wales this autumn and get up close and personal with the squad by sponsoring a player. Each squad member is available for £125 for the tournament with all valuable funds going to Wales' campaign for success.


You recieve...

  • Invite to the private after match reception in either Wrexham or Cardiff
  • A player issue training top
  • Two free tickets to Wales v USA
  • Signed squad photo
  • Recognition on WRL social media and the official website


For further information please email sponsorship@walesrugbyleague.co.uk or call 08432 896407 and speak to Hanna Clarke or Toby Adamson.


I have just sponsored Rhys Williams.


Come on Wales!!!

Under Scrutiny by the Right-On Thought Police

#432 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:04 PM

Forward Tyson Frizell has been passed fit for Wales' World Cup opener with Italy in Cardiff on Saturday.

His return means Wales will have one Australian NRL player in their squad compared to Italy's 10.

Coach Iestyn Harris said: "I'm pleased that Tyson has overcome his injury. He, and of course all of the others, have worked hard to be here."

Italy coach Carlo Napolitano has made three changes from the team that beat England in Saturday's warm up game.

Chris Centrino, Ben Falcone and Cameron Ciraldo, who were on the bench against England, all come into the starting line up.

The Welsh squad includes three uncapped players - Warrington's Rhys Evans, Larne Patrick of Huddersfield Giants and Anthony Walker of St Helens.

Harris added: "I think we have a really strong team for the opening game. We're going into it with confidence but we know that we'll have a tough time against Italy especially after their win over England last week."

#433 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:05 PM

Head coach Iestyn Harris says Wales will have to be at their best to beat Italy in their opening game of the Rugby League World Cup on Saturday.

The Italians beat England 15-14 at the weekend and Harris said the result should serve as a warning to Wales for the game at the Millennium Stadium.

He said: "We knew about the quality of the Italians and we knew they would be a formidable task in our first game.

"I think the result they had against England confirmed that."

The Group C/D match will be Wales' third game at stadium where they the lost to New Zealand in the 2000 World Cup and then again in 2002.

"Italy are a very, very good team and they've got a lot of experience in there [and] they've got a lot of NRL experience in there," added Harris.

"They are an extremely difficult team to play against and anything outside our best won't be good enough to win that game."

England face Australia in Saturday's opening game of the tournament in Cardiff followed by Wales' clash with Italy.

Harris is relishing a return to the venue and says a successful World Cup campaign could help the game's popularity in Wales.

"To have a game at the Millennium Stadium for a Wales rugby league national side is certainly important to us," Harris said.

"I'm sure the players who take the field will be immensely proud of the fact we're at the Millennium Stadium.

"If we hit the ground running and get some momentum behind us then all of a sudden the Welsh public will start to get behind us.

"That could kick off the sport [and] ultimately we've got that responsibility."

#434 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:09 PM

Kopcsak believes his side have the talent to make an impact on the World Cup and will be looking to his teammates in the pack to lead the way.


With Wigan's double-winning forwards Ben Flower and Gil Dudson firmly part of the Welsh international scene and Kopczak joined this year by his Huddersfield front-row teammate Larne Patrick, coach


Iestyn Harris can load his pack with a wealth of Super League experience.


And Harris is also able to call on the NRL expertise of St George Illawarra second-rower Tyson Frizzell, who joined up with the squad this week after proving his fitness and flying in from Sydney.


"We're very talented in that area," the Kopczak said.


"The size around the place is huge, you know what direction we're going to be going in."


Wales failed to qualify for the last tournament in 2008 but have twice been semi-finalists in the past and Kopczak is confident they can make progress through the group stages.


They kick off their campaign against Italy in the second half of Saturday's double-header at the Millennium Stadium before meeting the United States and the Cook Islands.


"Obviously we'd like to win the competition," Kopczak, 26, said.


"Realistically we'd like to get as far as the semis. I know it's a big ask but I think we can cause some upsets.


"We've got so much talent in our team, we are obviously going to do something in this competition."


Wales' biggest test is expected to come on Saturday when they meet an Italian team on a high following their stunning 15-14 win over England in Salford last Saturday.


"I haven't seen the game but I have to say I was shocked," Kopczak added.


Italy coach Carlo Napolitano is expecting even more from his side after their heroics against England and believes they will need to improve against a well-coached Welsh outfit.

"There is room for improvement," Napolitano said.


"That result against England doesn't give us two points and a win in the World Cup but it shows we're here."

#435 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:11 PM

Jordan James sayshe always dreamed of playing for his country at the Millennium Stadium.


The 33-year old made his Welsh debut exactly ten years ago when on Sunday 26th October 2003, he ran out at Aberavon in front of 1,082 people, the second lowest Wales home attendance of all time, as Wales beat Russia 74-4 in the European Cup.


Now he is expected to take to the field in front of a record Welsh Rugby League crowd, when Wales face Italy in the opening game of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in Cardiff on Saturday (kick-off 4.30pm).


“I think I dreamed about playing here for Wales but I didn’t think it would actually happen,” James said. “Ten years ago – it’s a long time and it’s going to be totally different tomorrow to when I played that first game and scored my first Welsh try.


“I’m really looking forward to the challenge that Italy give us and let’s hope we can go out there and get the win.”


James, who has played for Crusaders, Wigan and Salford in Super League, will break the Welsh record for most caps if Wales reach the quarter-finals and he plays in every game. Currently on 27 caps, just three below Ian Watson who holds the Welsh record, James says that it’s not his first thought.


“It’ll be lovely but if that comes it comes,” he said. “I just want to make sure that I get selected for every game and play my best, and if that happens then it’s a bonus. I just want to play well and get picked for every game.”


James will be moving to South Wales next year when he takes a new role at the Wales Rugby League academy at Maesteg School, something he is relishing as he’s keen to help in the WRL production line that has brought nine of the players through to this World Cup.


“When I first started playing for Wales, we didn’t really have a big youth structure coming through,” he said. “Now there is that pathway. People like Gil Dudson and Ben Flower have trod that path to Super League and there are others coming through that I’m going to be coaching next year in South Wales – under 16s and under 18s who’ll hopefully make that jump to Super League if they stick at it.


“That’s what Iestyn (Harris) started and it’s what we’ve been working on over the last five or six years. It’s really exciting times in Wales for the youth coming through.”

#436 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:16 PM

Organisers are confident tomorrow’s tournament opener at the Millennium Stadium will be the biggest curtain-raiser the sport has ever seen.

The previous highest attendance for the first match of the 13-man game’s global showpiece was 41,000 back in 1995, when the World Cup was also held in the UK.

And the last time the tournament was staged – in Australia in 2008 – the opening match between England and Papua New Guinea attracted just 10,780 fans before New Zealand and Australia’s clash a day later saw 34,157 fans attended.

But there is early talk that tomorrow, and on traditional union territory, there will be closer to 50,000 fans cheering on the superstars of league in the Welsh capital.

An opening ceremony at 1.30pm will feature ex-players and Strictly Come Dancing stars Martin Offiah and Gareth Thomas who will be joined by their original ballroom partners Camilla Dallerup and Erin Boag.

There will also be a rendition of the national anthem by classical singer Camilla Kerslake.

After the smoke clears, England will take on favourites Australia at 2.30pm before Wales open up their campaign against Italy at 4.30pm.

While not a sell-out, Martin Johnston, from the Rugby League World Cup 2013, said ticket sales for month-long tournament’s opening salvo in Cardiff are in the region of the record-breaking figure they had hoped for.

He told WalesOnline yesterday: “In the last couple of days we have not been saying the overall figure – its quite a complicated thing and quite a big beast.

“We are certainly where we wanted to be. The aim was to be the biggest opening game of a rugby league World Cup and we are pretty close to doing that.”

Some supporters who have bought tickets for this weekend’s double header this week received emails informing them their tickets had been upgraded.

In the correspondence, fans were told: “To make this event even more special, we are pleased to inform you that we have upgraded your seat.

“All you need to do is go to the entrance shown on your current ticket, show the steward your ticket and we’ll do the rest.”

But Mr Johnston denied this was an indication sales hadn’t gone as well as planned.

“If that is the case, it would be a branding issue,” he said.

Aside from the Millennium Stadium, other venues that will be playing host to the tournament over the course of the next four weeks include Avignon and Perpignan in France, Limerick and Bristol.



Meanwhile Wales’ other group matches will see them travel to the Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium in Wrexham on November 3, where they will play the USA, and the Gnoll in Neath a week later to play the Cook Islands.

Mr Johnston said uptake on tickets in Wales, England, Ireland and France had been encouraging.

“We are close to a sell-out at quite a few grounds and we are selling certain blocks, people are trying to buy tickets for groups and realising they can’t get them,” he said.

Bringing the sport to a legion of new fans has been Rugby League’s mantra for many years.

Traditionally, it has been concentrated on the M62 corridor extending from Hull to St Helens and taking in places like Warrington, Salford, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.

Mr Johnston says the sport has “moved away” from that in recent years, with a new bottom division side in Oxford this year, a new team in Hemel and community Rugby League in London said to be “doing really well”.

Nevertheless he says it is recognised the Rugby League World Cup 2013 has a “big job” in attracting fans, with semi-finals at Wembley and a grand final at Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

“There is 18% of tickets sold that have gone to fans who haven’t watched the game before,” Mr Johnston said.

“At Wembley, 60% of fans have never been to the Challenge Cup before who are going to the semi-finals.

“So we know we are attracting new fans and that’s one of the key aims of the World Cup.”

As well as Welsh fans getting a rare opportunity to see the sport up close and personal, Visit Wales and the Welsh Government have also thrown their weight behind the tournament as official sponsors.

Cardiff University expert on the economic impact of sport, Professor Calvin Jones, said the Rugby League World Cup is likely to generate “multiple millions” for the Welsh economy.

He said: “Especially with the high profile matches you’d expect the vast bulk of people in that stadium to be non-Welsh residents.

“That means two things – they’re more likely to stay in Cardiff. Obviously some will come down in coaches and go back the same day, but lots will be staying over and the second thing is that is all new money to Wales.

“It’s not money which would have been spent in Wales anyway – this is an event where had it gone somewhere else in the UK we would not have seen any of that money. It’s not like the Six Nations, which has to happen here anyway.”

Professor Jones said the “best case” scenario would see Cardiff match the £20m it earned from the Heineken Cup Final in 2011 when the average spend per spectator was around £300 for the game between Leinster and Ulster.

He added: “If you think of the Rugby Union World Cup back in 1999 that was about £40m to £50m pounds worth.

“Even if it’s a lot smaller than that, a Rugby League World Cup, albeit with only a few matches in Wales, is going to be multiple millions.”

Executive director of the Wales Tourism Alliance Adrian Greason-Walker added as long as the “package” around the event is right then the World Cup can leave lasting benefits.

He said: “It’s not just about the stadium providing the rugby match. It’s about the transportation here and making sure we have the quality of accommodation, which we do in Cardiff obviously.

“So that when someone first comes into contact with Wales, the experience of Wales right the way through matches up to the quality of the game that’s on offer as well.”

Mr Greason-Walker said  in terms of maintaining Wales’s profile on the world stage, the games have a significance that goes beyond the immediate money they generate.

“It’s not just about the event on the day. It’s about keeping Wales up there – particularly on the European and the world stage these events are very important. It’s not just the direct benefits, it’s the indirect benefits.”

Former dual code Welsh international Brynmor Williams said the World Cup heightened the profile of the sport “immediately it was announced”.

Mr Williams, 61, who played league in the early 1980s for the now defunct Cardiff City Blue Dragons, said the sport is growing in Wales.

Though the Crusaders had a spell in Super League between 2009 and 2011 the side later went bust and its successor club – the North Wales Crusaders – now plays in the sport’s third tier alongside the South Wales Scorpions.

Mr Williams said: “I think it (the World Cup) is something sport lovers in Wales have looked forward to since Wales qualified a few years ago. You’ve got the South Wales Scorpions and the domestic leagues so the interest now is almost as great as it’s ever been because there’s more participation in the sport.

“When I played for Cardiff City Blue Dragons the only Welsh team was the Cardiff City Blue Dragons and the Welsh players playing up north. I think Wales is so full of sport-loving people that anything that is successful and entertaining will eventually get the following.”

But he believes the sport lacks a “big team” in Wales to generate interest in the game.

He added: “No new team has come into Wales and had sustained success and because of that the interest dwindles as it’s always trying to break new ground.”

Mr Williams said attempting to grow the game globally has to be the “bigger picture” for the sport.

“Italy beat England last weekend and suddenly there are emerging nations that once had no profile in rugby league. That result has been everywhere in the media and they (Italy) play Wales on Saturday so there’s a lot of conversation going on in the community and the interest is being created.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said hosting the tournament helped advertise Wales to the world.

“Wales will  host five fixtures including the opening double headers of England v Australia and Wales v Italy on Saturday,” she said.

“Other fixtures span North and South Wales in order to spread the economic impact.

“The tournament as a whole, including the Wales fixtures, have been promoted by RLWC to Rugby League fans from all over the world.

“The Millennium Stadium also plays host to the official opening ceremony, which will be televised live, raising the profile of Wales to worldwide audiences and will be staged with a strong Welsh flavour and showcase a host of Welsh talent.”

Meanwhile David Cameron also gave his endorsement to the tournament.

The Prime Minister said: “After years of planning and months of build-up, the Rugby League World Cup is about to get underway and after over a decade away it is great to see it right back here in Britain once again.

“It is going to be a great tournament from Cardiff to Warrington, from St Helens to Bristol, we’re going to see the very best that Rugby League has to offer.

“It’s a real treat for seasoned fans but it’s also a fantastic opportunity to introduce new people to the sport with half a million people expected to go to a game over the next month.

“We’ve got a great month ahead so let’s all enjoy it.”

#437 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:27 PM

Clive Griffiths is a name synonymous with Welsh rugby league. The former St Helens player was in charge of Wales for two memorable World Cup campaigns in 1995 and 2000.

Wales lost 25-10 to England in that 1995 semi-final and a side captained by Iestyn Harris gave Australia an almighty scare before losing 46-22 at the same stage five years later.

Griffiths has also spent a spell as assistant to current head coach Harris, who has been in charge of the national side since 2009.

Here, North Wales Crusaders head coach Griffiths looks forward to Wales' fourth World Cup campaign, which begins against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.


"Iestyn's still pretty young as a coach. He's very cool, as he was as a player. I get a bit more animated than Iestyn but we're all different in styles.

"He knows the game inside-out and all he needs now is the coaching experience to go with it and the man-management skills which develop as you go along.


"Iestyn is learning the hard way. The Crusaders was a tough baptism for him in their final season in Super League. I think he's done the right thing going to assist at Wigan Warriors. He couldn't be at a better rugby league club than Wigan and with time he will be one of the top coaches.

"He's got a great chap assisting him in Lee Briers. They're two half-backs who know how the game should be played.

"They've been in the fast lane of international rugby and Super League rugby for many a year so there are no better people to put forward that experience and the way of playing the game.

"They gave me everything as players and I've got nothing but admiration for them. I've got no doubt these boys will go on to greater things."


"There are more Super League players now in the Wales squad than there have been for a long time. It's similar to 1995, when we had players from throughout the game - the Warrington boys, the St Helens connection and the Widnes boys.

"Players like Ben Flower and Gil Dudson (both Wigan Warriors) plus Jordan James (Salford Red Devils) are in the fast lane of forward play down the middle. You can see how they've come on as players since they moved up into the higher level.

"They've got the foundation; they've got a good forward pack. Our half-backs, number nine and hooker need to guide us around the pitch and make sure everyone's going forward in the right manner.

"We've got to keep everyone healthy. People are bound to get injured but we just want to try and get the best team out we possibly can for those games.

"I know how fantastic it is to be involved [in the World Cup] and you've got to transfer that to the players. It will be special for them."


"Italy will be absolutely buoyed by their 15-14 warm-up match win against England. I couldn't believe the result.

"It's the best thing that could have happened to Wales because this could have happened to Wales in our first game.

"Everybody now will be totally on their guard and ready for an onslaught from Italy and we'll have a bit more respect for them.

"It's going to be a mouth-watering encounter. I still think Wales will win it, but I don't think it's going to be as easy as everyone thought initially.

"I don't know how long Italy have been together but they've obviously got some good players in the right positions and they seemed to have gelled pretty quickly.

"I think we'll beat the United States and the Cook Islands with something to spare. We played the Cook Islands in 2000 at the Racecourse in Wrexham on a filthy night. It was only 6-6 at half-time but we went away to win by 38-6 in the end and I think it will be a similar tale.


"They got absolutely slaughtered by a New Zealand team that were missing five or six of their probable starting line-up. The signs aren't good for the Cook Islands. It will be physical but I think Wales will come through it."

"There's no reason why we can't do well. They will get to the quarter-finals, I'm pretty sure of that.

"England or Australia in the quarter-final at Wrexham is quite an incentive; the carrot's dangling for the players. You want to play the best as a player, and it's going to be interesting whoever we play in that quarter-final.

"With a bit of luck and some good decisions going their way there's no reason why we shouldn't get to the semi-final. As you saw in 2000, anything can happen and it's all on the day. It's cup-tie rugby. We can but dream."

#438 DugSWRLgan

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 12:38 PM

Wales began RLWC2013 with a 32-16 loss to an Italian side packed with stars from the NRL at the Opening Ceremony in Cardiff.


After a great start to the tournament with Australia edging out England in an end-to-end tie, this second installment followed suit for the first hour.


But Italy’s kicking game, which was far superior to Wales’ and put the Dragons under severe pressure in the second half, cracked their hosts as they ran away with the game in the final quarter.


Wales went close early on when, after Matt Seamark had chipped over the Italy line, Ian Webster had a further hack at the ball but couldn't collect.


And The Azzurri made their hosts pay for the lost opportunity; Aidan Guerra showed great strength to cross down the left after Paul Vaughan had set up field position with a break.


It didn't take long for Wales to get back into the tie, however, as a neat kick from Lloyd White, which skimmed along The Millennium turf, confused the Italian defence and Ben Evans pounced on the ball for a four-pointer.


The hosts thought they were in again just minutes later as Elliott Kear broke clear to score, but the video referee ruled the score out for a ball steal on Cameron Ciraldo in the build-up.


Italy then had an effort of their own referred to the video referee when Aidan Guerra squeezed over in similar fashion to his first score – but that was given the green light by Shayne Hayne.


Joshua Mantellato then notched on an extra two points after a penalty for obstruction to give his side a slender lead heading into the break.


The Dragons came out for the second half full of fire and, after Elliot Kear leaped high to collect White’s kick and touched down in the corner, it looked as though the Italians were really going to have to fight to keep their lead.


However, those were Wales’ final points of the game and Italy replied almost immediately through a Josh Mantellato effort in the right corner.


Official man-of-the match Mantellato was also involved in Italy’s fourth try, which began a ten-minute period where they really turned on the pace, as he collected Falcone’s high bomb to the corner and offloaded out to Tedesco to slide over.


Just two minutes later and Aidan Guerra was in on the act again; he hit the line and spun an out-the-door pass to Chirs Centrone, who was in acres of space out wide and cut inside to ground next to the posts.


And Mark Minichiello capped off an impressive victory, which was also a slightly harsh reflection of Wales’ performance, for The Azzurri’s in their first ever World Cup clash on the hooter.

#439 gogledd

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 12:51 PM

Italy deserved their win but I thought Wales were unlucky with some of the refereeing calls.  Elliot Kears 'ball steal' was a try for me and I was amazed when the "No Try" graphic came up. I also thought were the Italian players ball carrying arm touched the ground it was also "No Try" and nobody seemed to notice their No. 8 in front of the kicker and running toward the catcher within 10m of play.  Ah well.


The Italians played a smart game and in the second half any ball Wales had was played in their own half of the pitch.


A great Opening Ceremony and England v Australia was a good close game too.

#440 BringbackGB

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 05:08 PM

Despite not getting the rub of the green from the officials I thought Italy were the better team on the day.   Wales played well for the first hit out and there’s no shame in loosing to a team of mostly NRL players who’d beaten  England the week before.  Iestyn and the boys will learn from the experience and I’m sure we’ll make the quarter finals.