West Country Eagle

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    Interests? I've had a few. But then again, too many to mention.
  1. I have happy memories of Brisbane in the days leading up to the 2008 final, despite England not being involved. By a stroke of fate the Aussies were playing NZ in the cricket at the Gabba, so we went along for the first day. Australia were not a lot for 2 or 3 but managed to scramble 200-odd. Then towards the end of the day NZ started batting and collapsed comedically. Happily it wasn't an omen for the final, which actually panned out the other way round. I can distinctly remember getting abuse from p*ssed off Aussies after the final. I also recall a load of the bar/club bouncers in Brisbane were Kiwis, so we shared a few jokes with them at Aussie punters' expense.
  2. Pinched from social media. I chuckled a little bit.
  3. All coaches at every level talk about slowing down the ruck and seeing what you can get away with - "testing the ref early doors" is in almost every pre-match team talk I've ever heard. I'm not arguing against that - it's important to slow it down if you can get away with it and we all know why (slighty more time for the game to get set, not allowing the other team to get a roll on etc etc). I'm sure SL coaches do the same kind of analysis as you talk about and different referees certainly have different things they're lenient on or keen on - at an amateur level in the West of Eng;and League, where the Sonics play (see my avatar), we have a small pool of refs. Therefore coaches and players can get used to their interpretations and know what not to do - for example, one particular ref always penalises players for swearing, even if it's not directed at the opposition or the officials, while another is obsessed with differential penalties at the scrum. So I'd agree that Australian players being reffed in internationals by NRL referees gives them an advantage, certainly when it comes to knowing how long they can lie on etc etc. That said, the fact that they're given this advantage at all is ludicrous - after all, refs should be from a neutral country and the international rules (which is what the RLWC is played to, rather than SL or NRL interpretations) should be clear and not favour players from any particular competition. That's another argument though. In the case of Bennett getting in first, Meninga was always going to rise to the bait. History tells us that Kangaroos coaches say similar things before every final, though, and as an ex-Roos coach Bennett knows this. I'm sure he does similar week in, week out in the NRL, too (though I don't follow it religiously these days so could be wrong about that)
  4. No, it's nowt to do with shielding players, it's an attempt from both coaches to put pressure on the referee. It happens at all levels of the professional game but is particularly apparent when Australia play England or GB. There's a long and tedious history of Roos coaches firstly whining to get the ref they prefer and then puttig pressure on to try and get favourable decisions. That Bennett has also done it is good - at least now the ref has two whining coaches in his ears rather than one. It is true that the Roos are masterful at slowing the game down but I'd dispute the insistence that they don't get away with it more. I've lost count of the number of Aus international games I've watched (against England, NZ and others) where I'm screaming at the television or from the stands about their spoiling tactics. Last week's England-Tonga semi had plenty of messing around at the ruck but it was generally a pretty quick game - helped by Matt Cecchin's insistence on a quick PTB and a willingness to penalise both sides if they don't comply. England's scrambling defence was tested a lot because of this. Has Australia's scrambling defence been tested yet? No. Why? No refs ever penalise them for laying on too long, even when its blatant. If both sides get hammered for it, fine. I'd rather that than the usual "ignore Australia and then penalise the other side within kickable penalty territory or on the 4th tackle"
  5. Good work from journalist Jonathan Liew, who has got Jonny Bairstow to fill his ghostwritten column with chat about how excited he is for the RLWC final. See here: Jonny Bairstow: I Can't Wait For The Rugby League World Cup FInal, It's Just a Shame I Can't Watch
  6. No, what the photos show is England putting three men into the tackle, and in one instance (from memory) three on top of a player after a tackle. Without video footage you can say for certain that England were lying on too long. They were penalised once or twice v Tonga, but so were the latter. Fair enough - if a referee pings both teams for it, fine. In the opener a few weeks ago it was one way traffic (I.E lots of pens to the Roos, very few to England). You are right that Bennett fired the first shot by complaining about Australia's "dirty tactics" around the ruck. Personally I have no issue with this - there's a fine tradition of Australian coaches whining about this to put pressure on the referees before Eng/GB v Aus games. I'm happy that for once England has an Aussie in the camp prepared to do this - makes a refreshing change from it being one-way traffic. Bennett is right in this instance - the Kangaroos get away with a lot of lying on at the PTB and have done for years. All teams do it to a certain extent (England included), but on the evidence of game one Wayne was correct to flag it. Meninga's pantomime response was a bit sad, though. Bringing out the photos FFS.
  7. Interesting one, this. If England get it together (IE keep hold of the ball and stop making the kind of idiotic errors that would irritate coaches at community game level, let alone in a World Cup) then they should have enough to win. I'm looking forward to seeing how the atmosphere at Mt Smart comes over on the TV - I'm sure the Tongan fans will make loads of noise. Just one thing to work out beforehand: do I head out and then attempt to stay up all night, or go to bed early and set the alarm
  8. Neutral refs in international RL

    And we also used to get French refs in GB-Aus series in this country. I remember Bozo Fulton giving it the full whinge about "Monsieur Sableroles" (as Ray French called him) after the 1990 test at Wembley. Aussie coaches demanding their own refs has a long and storied history.
  9. Neutral refs in international RL

    Clearly there should be neutral refs - we've been banging on about this for years. The lack of refs in the comp from nations other than England, Australia and NZ is something that needs rectifying. If there's not enough of the perceived standard then they need to be trained up and nurtured by the SL and NRL. I do find it exceptionally irritating to see Australian fans whinging about Thaler being English and therefore "biased". I don't remember them complaining that Cretin (or whatever his name is) refereed the Australia-England match last week (or any of the other times the likes of Bill Arrogant, Archer etc did Aus-England or Aus-GB games in the past). Classic hypocrisy.
  10. Oxford and All Golds to merge?

    Participation rates are declining across the board, not just in the "expansion"/"development" areas. This is just as true for the "heartlands" as anywhere else.
  11. Oxford and All Golds to merge?

    I totally understand that and it's natural to be cynical when, as you say, the two clubs that have "merged" didn't last long and didn't make much of an impression in the grand scheme of things. As I said above, it all rests on who comes in and supports the club/is involved financially. If it ends up being one of the big players in the local sports scene, for example, then that would give the RL club greater chance of success. If it's just the same people as before then it will be harder work. They need some people onside/involved who know the city's sports scene inside out.
  12. Oxford and All Golds to merge?

    As far as I can recall, the noises coming out of Northampton and Leicester were from amateur clubs - or people who had been involved with them - who saw what Coventry and Hemel were doing and wanted to follow suit. This is different. For starters, the consortium of people involved includes those who have already run League 1 clubs (All Golds and Oxford) so know what it takes. The RFL's statement mentions them proving they have funding and significant backers. No doubt we will hear more about whether they have this in place (and it seems that they have, or at least are in discussions) over coming weeks and months. This really is the key factor. If they get the right people in Bristol involved then the club definitely has a future.
  13. Oxford and All Golds to merge?

    The Sonics will be issuing a press release shortly welcoming the new merged club. We've had a very brief conversation with some of those involved with the new club and will be sitting down with them properly at a later date. The release above just says the bare minimum - they seem a lot further down the line than the RFL press release suggests, so we can expect further announcements about things like name, location and crucially backers over the next few weeks and months. At the end of the day, we want what is best for Rugby League in our city. Our aim would be to work with the new club to find ways we can strengthen the roots of the game at junior, youth and amateur label and ensure that there is a proper pathway. It's in both clubs interests to ensure that all facets of the game (schools, juniors, amateur, academy, pro etc) are moving in the same direction.
  14. someone at the RFL!

    Perhaps they could stage it at Ashton Gate instead (rumours round here that Bristol City Council has bid to stage a RLWC 2021 game there).
  15. Expansion Clubs.

    Even with the Welsh clubs it will still be a pretty slim division with lots of epic travel (which IS an issue in this part of the world as union players - and, yes, most still play union even if we'd like them to commit to a longer League season - get a nosebleed if they have to travel more than about 30 miles.