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#1 West Country Eagle

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 02:15 PM

This Saturday sees the "big kick-off" of new Tier 3 division Conference League South. Hopefully I'm not alone in actually looking forward to it.

Here's the opening round of fixtures, in no particular order…

Sheffield Hallam Eagles v Bristol Sonics (Don Valley Stadium)
St Albans Cents v Northampton Demons (Toulmin Drive)
Nottingham Outlaws v Leicester Storm (Harvey Hadden Stadium)

Any predictions?

You can read a preview of the Sonics trip to face newcomers Sheffield Hallam on the Sonics website

Personally, as a Sheffield fan of many years who has many happy (and not so happy) memories of games at DVS, it's going to be a bit weird watching the Sonics play there. I played there a few times as a teenager in pre-match games/curtain raisers (Sheffield Schools final, for Sheffield Schools rep side etc), and was even a ballboy for the Eagles for a few seasons. I'm not sure if you'd told me when I was 12 that I'd return 22 years later with an RL team from Bristol I'd have believed you!
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#2 RichardJ

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 02:35 PM

There has certainly been a real "buzz" on the Outlaws Facebook page the last few days, the players and supporters are really looking forward to the new season, match preview can be found on the Outlaws website here

http://www.nottingha...?article_id=202

#3 West Country Eagle

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 02:42 PM

There has certainly been a real "buzz" on the Outlaws Facebook page the last few days, the players and supporters are really looking forward to the new season, match preview can be found on the Outlaws website here

http://www.nottingha...?article_id=202


Nice. One of the things I quite like about the league this year is that it's so difficult to predict. I suspect there will be no "easy beats", though so much has changed pre-season that it's hard to know.

Sheffield - New side made up of Hallam Uni players plus some dual registered Eagles academy players. Could be decent but depends on how good the Hallam players are (not in the top SRL leagues)

Bristol - Partnership with the All Golds means dual registered players aplenty. How this will work in practice (i.e who, how many each week) I don't know. Basis of the squad will be similar to last year, but possibly a little stronger

Nottingham - New-look side but always decent, lots of experience, will be hard to beat I reckon

Leicester - Stepping up, so might find it tough at first. However, Dean Thomas is coach (lots of experience), and they've recruited some decent players from up North (well, Sheffield)

St Albans - New coach, a few changes in playing personnel. According to their Chairman it will be mostly homegrown products. New ground as well soon which will be a boost (well, new ground at the same place)

Northampton - Lots of changes pre-season apparently and upheaval within the club. Could be really good or may struggle - too soon to tell.

Out of that lot I couldn't predict a top two or three, let alone winners. I have a sneaking suspicion that Leicester and Sheffield Hallam might take a few people by surprise, but I could be wrong. I'd like to think the Sonics will be strong - certainly the team for Saturday looks good on paper - but we may take a few weeks to get up to the required level given that we've had no warm-up games due to weather, Easter etc.
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#4 Marauder

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 02:44 PM

This Saturday sees the "big kick-off" of new Tier 3 division Conference League South. Hopefully I'm not alone in actually looking forward to it.

Here's the opening round of fixtures, in no particular order…

Sheffield Hallam Eagles v Bristol Sonics (Don Valley Stadium)
St Albans Cents v Northampton Demons (Toulmin Drive)
Nottingham Outlaws v Leicester Storm (Harvey Hadden Stadium)

Any predictions?

You can read a preview of the Sonics trip to face newcomers Sheffield Hallam on the Sonics website

Personally, as a Sheffield fan of many years who has many happy (and not so happy) memories of games at DVS, it's going to be a bit weird watching the Sonics play there. I played there a few times as a teenager in pre-match games/curtain raisers (Sheffield Schools final, for Sheffield Schools rep side etc), and was even a ballboy for the Eagles for a few seasons. I'm not sure if you'd told me when I was 12 that I'd return 22 years later with an RL team from Bristol I'd have believed you!

Couple of young Marauders turning out for the Eagles with probably a couple more joining them in a couple of weeks when our season is over, Smithy is a good hooker and is the son of Mick Smith who played for Featherstone at Wembley, Leicester also have a Marauder turning out for them as well.

Edited by Marauder, 04 April 2013 - 02:47 PM.

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#5 Odsal Outlaw

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 05:29 PM

I think the new season is the most exciting for a while and better to have fewer committed clubs than some making up numbers. It also feels like it will be a really competitive league and agree with post above that its hard to pick a top 2-3.

There's a few bits I don't agree with, the magic fixtures where everyone plays at same place on same day seems like a waste of time and dont agree with dual reg that Sheff/Bristol have. But you can't have everything and it's shaping up to be a decent year.

If I had to pick one team out other than my own I'd say Sheff will be decent from what i've heard about the level of Eagles influence.
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#6 MidlandsRugbyLeague

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 08:46 PM

It is certainly going to be a good step forward for the game in the south and three more clubs playing a "fuller" summer season. Can only be a good thing as they move further down the journey of players choosing RL as their first choice sport.



#7 West Country Eagle

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 08:24 AM

I think the new season is the most exciting for a while and better to have fewer committed clubs than some making up numbers. It also feels like it will be a really competitive league and agree with post above that its hard to pick a top 2-3.

There's a few bits I don't agree with, the magic fixtures where everyone plays at same place on same day seems like a waste of time and dont agree with dual reg that Sheff/Bristol have. But you can't have everything and it's shaping up to be a decent year.

If I had to pick one team out other than my own I'd say Sheff will be decent from what i've heard about the level of Eagles influence.

ell, I'll stick up for the Dual Reg as we're involved. For starters, the League rules dictate that dual registration of Tier 2 (Championship, Championship 1) players at Tier 3 is fine, so we're not doing anything wrong. In terms of the personnel we'll have, most of the players who will appear this year for the Sonics will not be dual registered with the ALl Golds. There are some who play for the All Golds uni side, but who are not in the pro squad. There are a few others who have played in the first team - including two or three who played for us in Tier 3 last year - and only one or two who haven't. It may or may not strengthen us, and it's not like we're fielding a load of ex Super League pros.

As for Sheffield-Hallam Eagles, Sheffield Eagles were honest from the start about their intentions - i.e to give pathway players (Academy etc) game time. While they could, in theory, include first team Championship regulars, this isn't their intention and highly unlikely. Since the U-23 Academy was scrapped, they see this as a better fit. It also works for Sheffield Hallam Uni, as their players get to play a better standard of rugby.

The rules are such that other CLS clubs could go in this direction if they so wished. Nottingham could, in time, field players from Coventry (if and when they go pro) or other Championship 1/Championship clubs. Same for Leicester, St Albans, Northampton etc.

Edited by West Country Eagle, 05 April 2013 - 08:25 AM.

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#8 Jasper

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 11:32 AM

It still seems unfair to my unknowledgeable eye that dual registration is allowed at this level.  It appears that in a league of only six amateur (or is it 'open') clubs, a couple of the clubs have the ability to call on players from a higher semi pro league to play for them whilst the others don't. 

(Remember the moans from a couple of years ago when London Skolars put nine first teamers in their Southern Conference team when they had a free weekend.)

 

As WCE says above, it isn't wrong and is within the rules, but somehow it just doesn't seem fair to an impartial speccy like me when done at this level when you read things like  "Sheffield Hallam University Rugby League team will includes members from Sheffield Eagles academy and Sheffield Eagles reserve team."

 

I will be catching games at St Albans and Northampton this season, just hope they are as close and as enjoyable as last seasons games that I caught.


Edited by Jasper, 05 April 2013 - 12:02 PM.


#9 henage

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 03:46 PM

Hope the new league goes well and everyone enjoys the games.



#10 Penguin

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 04:30 PM

I have followed a lot of the Midlands RL over the past few seasons and I think it's great Demons as Storm have 'gone up'. Even with the changes at Northampton I think they will throw up a few surprises and northampton is some what of a fortress. I'm not sure how storm will go but are very stubborn in the middle and their one up stuff can break teams. I do think playing teams at a higher level week in week out should certainly improve both clubs dramatically.

The dual registration thing is ludicrous, its an expansion league that's surely aimed at improving local standard? Classic, I hope the teams using their own players and young talent beat those with mercenaries involved.

Good luck to all tomorrow!

#11 FAZ

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 09:56 AM

The links with CC1 clubs is good IMO, it keeps local guys focused on training and as long as the Clubs are open about selection policies etc then everyone is a winner and it will strengthen the lower leagues as well. The feedback I've had is that people see a logical, clear step to the next level

#12 West Country Eagle

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:55 AM

The links with CC1 clubs is good IMO, it keeps local guys focused on training and as long as the Clubs are open about selection policies etc then everyone is a winner and it will strengthen the lower leagues as well. The feedback I've had is that people see a logical, clear step to the next level

What he said.

There are few "mercenaries" in the Sheffield-Hallam or Bristol sides - the players with 'pro' club links are mostly local lads who happen to be on the performance pathway of the Eagles or All Golds.

I don't know exactly who is playing for the Sonics today (will find out in an hour or so) but I'm led to believe there are just two lads from the All Golds in our 17 today, one of whom has played for us for the last three or four seasons before he signed for them. That's hardly taking the p*ss, is it?
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#13 Odsal Outlaw

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 11:16 AM

What he said.

There are few "mercenaries" in the Sheffield-Hallam or Bristol sides - the players with 'pro' club links are mostly local lads who happen to be on the performance pathway of the Eagles or All Golds.

I don't know exactly who is playing for the Sonics today (will find out in an hour or so) but I'm led to believe there are just two lads from the All Golds in our 17 today, one of whom has played for us for the last three or four seasons before he signed for them. That's hardly taking the p*ss, is it?


Agreed that isn't really taking the p*ss. But neither was SL dual reg until Warrington shipped half a side down to Swinton incl. England internationals!

Anyway, sure clubs in our league will use appropriately. Although u can check in on Eagles progress by typing the hash tag #EaglesReserves into Twitter!!!

Best of luck to everyone today! Main thing is we are back playing RL!
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#14 FAZ

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 03:54 PM

42 40 to Bristol, entertaining game

#15 Odsal Outlaw

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 05:01 PM

Outlaws 22-4 Leicester (HT 6-4)
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#16 Exiled Townie

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 05:41 PM

St Albans Centurions 32 - 0 Northampton Demons

 

Thoroughly enjoyable game played in glorious sunshine.  Cents still have a few squad members playing (and getting paid) at union clubs so over the next few weeks we should have them coming back into the squad.  First time ever we had no Aussies playing for us, very pleased with the fact that nearly all the lads are local, except for two ex pat northerners who live down here now.


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#17 MidlandsRugbyLeague

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 05:44 PM

Sounds like a good start to the season then and all clubs putting sides out in April is great news for the game in the area.

#18 West Country Eagle

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 08:28 PM

Crazy game at Don Valley. Here's the match report: http://www.bristolso...tuns-sheffield/

Just two 'dual reg' players for Bristol today - Marcus Brooker (Sonics player who signed for Glos in the off-season) and second row Joe McLean.
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#19 West Country Eagle

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 05:34 PM

Week two results (Nottingham-St Albans tomorrow):

Bristol 24 - 10 Northampton
Leicester 16 - 38 Sheffield-Hallam

Bristol go top, until tomorrow, at least, after continuing their unbeaten start to the season.

Terrible conditions at Clifton - torrential rain, freezing cold, slippery mudbath of a pitch… it was like watching a BARLA game in deepest midwinter in Halifax. The Sonics made a bit of a meal of it, having gone 18-0 up (through four tries) within 20-odd minutes. Northampton came back well in the remaining 60, and arguably played the better rugby second half. They played the conditions well, completing their sets and pushing Bristol back with excellent kicks from their lively halves. Bristol were always better in the forwards, though, and made ground throughout. Sadly, we lost our heads a bit and needed a late Wes Rodgers score to settle it and confirm the win.

Still, a win is a win, and we'll take it. Northampton have decent structure and work hard. Once again our forwards got the best of their counterparts and had it not been for a string of needless penalties and handling errors we'd probably have scored more points. That said, we didn't, and Northampton hung in there really well and were in with a sniff second half.

Pleasingly, we've not hit our best yet, but it will come. Winless Leicester next week… they're generally pretty solid defensively and give us a good game, so that one could be tough.
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#20 Marauder

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 12:05 PM

Sheffield Hallam Eagles 38-16 Leicester Storm


Carlsberg don't do Soldiers, but if they did, they would probably be Brits.



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