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Wales RL World Cup 2013/General News

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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.”

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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.

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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

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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!!!

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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.”

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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.”

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.   

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Rugby League World Cup 2013 organisers in Wrexham are delighted to announce that the lower Yale Paddock and Mold Road stand are close to selling out for the match between Wales and USA on Sunday November 3rd (2.00pm GMT).

This news comes as the Wales squad arrive in Wrexham for their huge Rugby League World Cup 2013 match.

The Yale Stand tickets have been snapped up mainly by school parties following a surge of interest as Rugby League fever grips Wrexham, with just few hundred tickets remaining in the Mold Road stand as well.

Cllr David Griffiths, Leader for Wrexham Council said: “We’re delighted tickets for the Wales v USA match have been selling so well.

“It is great to hear that schools have snapped up such a large number of tickets for Rugby League World Cup 2013. We’ve got two massive games being played here in Wrexham and it’s going to great seeing areas of the stadium packed with enthusiastic young people enjoying the game."

The high demand for Rugby League World Cup 2013 comes on the back of some outstanding work from the town’s community coaches. Rugby League is now widely played across schools in the country borough and is one of the most popular sports in terms of pupil participation.  

“The town has definitely got the Rugby League World Cup 2013 bug and we advise all fans to buy their tickets sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment.”

Wrexham will also be the venue for the Quarter Final Match between the Winners of Groups A & D on Saturday November 16th (1.00PM GMT).

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Rob Massam says it would be a dream come to true to run out for Wales at the Racecourse Ground this Sunday against USA in the Rugby League World Cup (kick-off 2pm).

 

Local boy Massam was named in Wales’ 24-man squad for the World Cup following an outstanding season for North Wales Crusaders. The powerful winger bagged 23 tries in 22 appearances as the Crusaders completed the Championship One and Northern Rail double.

 

And now the 26-year old, who lives near Moss Valley, is looking to live every boy’s dream by playing for his country.

 

His exploits have already caught the eye of Wales coach Iestyn Harris, who handed Massam his international debut against France in 2012 and Massam, who wasn't in the Wales side last Saturday in their opening day defeat to Italy, now hopes to be in the line-up for the crucial clash against the Tomahawks this Sunday.

 

“It really hasn’t sunk in yet. I’ve been training hard this year and I’m looking forward to the whole Rugby League World Cup 2013 experience,” Massam said.

 

“I had a phone call from Iestyn expecting him to let me down gently but I was really excited when he told me I had made the squad. Playing for your country is the pinnacle of every athlete’s a career so I’m thrilled to be part of the squad. I’m learning so much from both the coaches and players and I’m just happy to be going to the Rugby League World Cup 2013. 

 

“Running out in a Welsh jersey at the Racecourse would mean everything to me. I’ve grown up here in Wrexham,. I play my rugby here, all my friends are here and I live just around the corner in Gwersyllt. It’s every boy’s dream to play for their country and to do it in my home town would be extra special. 

 

“My family have been really supportive. They were hoping that I’d make the squad after making the squad last year and they’re really proud of me. I want to make them proud now by getting more caps and playing for my country in my home town.”

 

In just two short years he has gone from playing amateur rugby to representing Wales on the international stage.

 

And Massam’s rapid rise from amateur to fully-fledged international has been made all the more remarkable by the fact that he juggles playing for the Crusaders with his day job as a personal trainer.

 

Fulfilling his dream of playing for Wales at the World has come at a cost, with Rob having to sacrifice his income during the duration of the tournament.

 

Not only this but Rob has costs that he must meet whether he is working or not – such as his rental to DW Sports Fitness in Wrexham of £550 a month.

 

But those costs have now been covered, thanks to the generosity of the North Wales Crusaders and their fans.

 

Massam said: “The club and fans have helped me out a lot. My clients have been very supportive and understanding and I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. I’m training alongside some world class players and I’m trying to learn as much as I can. Opportunities to play in World Cup’s don’t come along very often so I’m going to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

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North Wales Crusaders will have two beasts out on the field in 2014 after they re-signed prop Ryan MacDonald and secured the signature of David Mills.

Mills, son of 70s Welsh international star ‘Big’ Jim Mills and also known as the ‘Beast’ wherever he has played, makes the switch from Championship rivals Swinton Lions, while MacDonald has decided to carry on his rugby league career for at least another year with Crusaders.

Head coach Clive Griffiths said: “I’m really pleased to have both players on board with the club for next season.

“There’s definitely one more season left in Ryan and, at this moment in time, he provides necessary experience for us.

“David Mills is exactly the same – his experience in this league will be really important to us.

“They’re two big, aggressive players and it’ll be great to have them, and their experience, within the squad for next season.”

Ryan MacDonald said on his re-signing: “I had every intention of staying on next year, but it was just a case of whether my body would hold up with stepping up another level.

“I spoke to my family and they all said go for it, and then once I spoke to Jamie and Clive about it then it was an easy decision to make.

“I really enjoyed it last year and success is a big part of that, and that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to stay on.

“It’s going to be loads harder next year – more physical, harder, faster and skillful – and it’s not going to be easy.

“But you’ve got to test yourself – you can’t sit in that comfort zone. As long as we stick together we’ll be fine and our side should be a match to quite a lot of sides next year.”

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Iestyn Harris and his squad travel to the Racecourse Ground looking to bounce back following their Rugby League World Cup 2013 opening loss to Italy at the Millennium Stadium.

 

Sunday’s game is a must win for Wales, especially after USA triumphed over the Cook Islands in their Rugby League World Cup debut on Wednesday.

 

James is no stranger to the Racecourse Ground, having played there with the Crusaders between 2010-11, and with the game heading for a sell-out, James has urged the crowd to make plenty of noise in Wrexham.

 

“It’s always nice to play here in Wrexham,” he said.

 

“I had some good times here with the Crusaders – the fans are very loyal and passionate and they make a lot of noise, which is great from a player’s perspective. I’m looking forward to running out onto the Racecourse field once again and hopefully we can put on a show for them.

 

“Home support can play a massive part in the USA match. When you’re down and out and you hear people singing and cheering it really gives the players a lift. Nothing beats hearing thousands of people signing the Welsh national anthem and I’m really looking forward to playing in front of a passionate home crowd here in Wrexham.”

 

The Tomahawks travel to Wrexham in confident mood following their historic win over the Cook Islands, with a squad bolstered with the likes of NRL stars Clint Newton and Wednesday night’s man of the match Joseph Paulo.

 

And James, who will ply his trade with the Gloucestershire All Golds next season, is expecting a tough, physical contest against the World Cup newcomers.

 

He added: “The Tomahawks have got a few experienced NRL players in their squad and they will be big and strong. They’re a country that excels when it comes to sport so they are going to come here fired up and looking to win. We’ve got to make sure we’re well prepared and match them physically.

 

“We’ve got a relatively young squad but the guys know each other pretty well. We’ve been together as a unit for four or five years now and we have a strong bond as a team.”

 

Tickets for the Wales vs. USA game are available online at http://www.rlwc2013.com/tickets, in person at the Glyndwr University box-office or by calling the Rugby League World Cup ticket hotline on 0844 847 2013.

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 Wales second row forward Ben Evans has been named in the Team of the Week for Round one of the Rugby League World Cup.

 

His nomination comes after an outstanding performance where he scored a try in Wales' 32-16 defeat to Italy at the Millennium Stadium last Saturday.

 

The mythical XIII contains no players from England or Scotland but New Zealand lead the way with three players after they beat Samoa 42-24 in their opening match.

 

Captain Simon Mannering, centre Dean Whare and hat-trick scoring winger Manu Vatuvei are the three Kiwis to make the team, which is derived from Opta's statistical analysis.

 

Another player to score a hat-trick, Fijian Akuila Uate, is the other winger, his teammate Kevin Naiqama is the full-back of the round, whilst Italy and Tonga also have two players in the side.

 

Evans, who was Man of the Match at the Millennium Stadium eight years ago when he helped Brynteg Comprehensive win the Year 7 Champion Schools Final, said: “You always have dreams of playing for your country in front of such a big crowd. I over the moon when I scored but I would have given that up for a win."

 

“It’s been a long time since I played at the Millennium Stadium for Brynteg in the curtain raiser to the Challenge Cup Final and that’s where Rugby League started for me.

 

“To go back there and play for Wales in a World Cup opening day at the Millennium Stadium just 20 minutes from where I was born is a fairy-tale. You really couldn’t write about it."

 

Opta Team of the Round:

1. Kevin Naiqama - Fiji

2. Manu Vatuvei - New Zealand

3. Dean Whare - New Zealand

4. Aidan Guerra - Italy

5. Akuila Uate - Fiji

6. Daniel Foster - Tonga

7. Cooper Cronk - Australia

8. Mark Offerdahl - USA

9. Eloi Pelissier - France

10. Paul Vaughan - Italy

11. Ben Evans - Wales

12. Sika Manu - Tonga

13. Simon Mannering - New Zealand

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North Wales Crusaders have continued their squad building for 2014 with the re-signing of Welsh internationals Christiaan Roets and Rob Massam.

Massam, meanwhile, stepped up from the amateur game to join Crusaders and has been a revelation ever since.

In 42 appearances for the club the winger has crossed for an impressive 37 tries - and that saw him called up for Wales' International Triangular Series last year and now the RLWC2013.

Head coach Clive said on their re-signings: "We wanted to keep continuity within the side and re-signing these lads has shown that.

"They're the heart and soul of the club and they're important to us as we work towards next year.

"They've both been an important part of the squad for the last two years and they more than deserve the opportunity to step up to the next level.

"It's great that they've been called up to the World Cup squad by Iestyn Harris - it reflects well on the club to have players playing at international level.

"The more they're exposed to that level of rugby league the better they'll become as players in the long run."

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‘Team 13’ set to give Rugby fans a warm Wrexham welcome

Fans attending Rugby League World Cup 2013 matches in Wrexham will be guaranteed a warm welcome courtesy of a dedicated group of volunteers.

The volunteers, drawn from across Wrexham and North Wales, will work under the name of ‘Team 13’ and all have key roles which will enable RLWC2013 organisers to deliver the best Rugby League World Cup possible.

They will be the first point of contact at stadiums for fans and will also perform key roles at matches and behind the scenes. Team 13 volunteers will be recognisable in their lime green t-shirts and blue hoodies.

Their roles range from helping people find their way around the stadium, helping to ensure the matchday entertainment runs smoothly, and also to make sure teams have everything they need whilst they are in camp.

They are being described as the ‘friendly face’ of Rugby League World Cup 2013 and will welcome fans from all over the world to Wrexham as the town hosts two matches. 

Cllr David Griffiths, Lead Member for Health said: 

“I’m delighted that so many local people have decided to volunteer at Rugby League World Cup 2013. 

“London 2012 proved that volunteers can be the difference between great events and fantastic events. Everyone who attends a Rugby League World Cup 2013 match at Wrexham will be guaranteed a warm welcome and I hope our enthusiastic group of volunteers enjoy this amazing experience.”

Team 13 volunteers will be on hand at both of Wrexham’s Rugby League World Cup 2013 matches. The Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium will play host to the Group D tie between.Wales and USA on Sunday November 3 (KO 2pm), as well the Quarter Final between the Winners of Group A & Group D on Saturday November 16 (KO 1pm). The quarter final could potentially see Wales take on England or Australia.

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Coach Iestyn Harris leads Wales into the 2013 Rugby League World Cup trying to emulate the high spots of some of the Welsh sides of the past.

Wales began with a 16-32 loss against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on 26 October - one half of the tournament's opening double-header that also saw England take on Australia - and now face the United States in Wrexham on 3 November and the Cook Islands on 10 November in Group D.

Wales' group fixtures
  • 3 Nov - United States (Wrexham)
  • 10 Nov - Cook Islands (Neath)

Saturday's opening matches had been given added spice by England's surprise loss to Italy in a warm-up match at the weekend.

Despite Wales' opening defeat to an Italy side full of NRL experience, the match was a cross-group fixture and Wales can still top their pool.

If they do they will face the winners of Group A - now likely to be Australia after they beat England 28-20 - in Wrexham on 16 November.

But before Wales complete their 2013 campaign, BBC Sport looks back at the history of Wales in rugby league's showpiece event.

1975

Wales began life as an international side in 1908 and announced themselves with a 9-8 win over New Zealand's famous 'All Golds' touring side in their first official Test.

But despite producing players of the calibre of wing Billy Boston,  Wigan's all-time record try scorer, great Salford and Workington Town centre Gus Risman,  and goal-kicking full-back Jim Sullivan  - another Wigan legend - Wales did not play in a World Cup until 1975.

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Dai Watkins was a star for Wales in both codes and a key part of the 1975 national rugby league side

Even then, the 1975 tournament was billed not as a World Cup but as the 'World Championship Series' and saw Wales, France, England, Australia and New Zealand compete in a home-and-away league over nine months.

Wales began with defeat by France in Toulouse but rebounded to beat England 12-7 in a match played at Lang Park in Brisbane, with Dai Watkins, Clive Sullivan and David Treasure grabbing tries for Wales.

England got their revenge in the return at Warrington, while two losses to Australia and one to New Zealand saw Wales languishing at the foot of the table.

But in their final two games of the campaign, Wales beat New Zealand 25-24 in a thriller in Swansea - despite having prop Jim Mills sent off - then overwhelmed France 23-2 in Salford to finish joint-third in the table with the Kiwis.

Mills, who also played six Tests for Great Britain, got his marching orders for stamping on the head of John Greengrass as the Kiwi prop went over for a try.

Greengrass needed 15 stitches in hospital while Mills, who played for Widnes and later became chairman of the club, earned notoriety for a moment of thuggery that saw him suspended for six months by the Rugby Football League and given a lifetime ban in New Zealand.

1995

Wales did not feature at a World Cup again until 1995, as a Great Britain team had been reintroduced in 1977.

But the Dragons announced their return with a bang, having already served notice of their talent by winning the European Championships that year.

Much of the cream of amateur Welsh rugby union had been enticed north to the 13-man code in the preceding years.

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Jonathan Davies launches an attack for Wales against England

That meant Wales were able to field the likes of Jonathan Davies, John Devereux, Allan Bateman, Scott Gibbs, Adrian Hadley, Scott Quinnell and Dai Young, alongside those like Harris, Anthony Sullivan and Keiron Cunningham who had grown up within rugby league.

They comfortably topped Group 3 with a 28-6 win over France in Cardiff and a hard-fought 22-10 victory against Western Samoa in Swansea.

That set up a semi-final against England, who Wales had humbled in the European Championships that year - seeing off their rivals 18-16 at Ninian Park in Cardiff.

However, in front of 30,000 fans at Old Trafford, England gained their revenge with a 25-10 win.

Wales were holding their hosts 2-2 with a quarter of the match gone before a flowing length-of-the-pitch England move, started by wing Jason Robinson, ended with Paul Newlove forcing his way over in the corner.

On the stroke of half-time England captain Denis Betts went over to increase their lead to 11-4, before Phil Clarke and Martin Offiah, twice from cross-kicks, added further tries in the second half.

Wales had just Rowland Phillips' try to show in that second period, but it was a beauty of quick thinking and quick feet.

The replacement second row was brought down eight yards short of the line by Newlove, but spotting he had no marker at the play-the-ball the Warrington player tapped to himself and charged over.

Australia beat New Zealand in the other semi-final and the Kangaroos went on to edge England 16-8 in the final at Wembley.

2000

With Australia continuing to dominate rugby league, there had been a move to reintroduce a Great Britain side for the 1998 World Cup - a proposal that predictably angered the Welsh - but in the end the tournament was cancelled because of the Super League power struggle.

Peace was eventually restored and the next World Cup was held in 2000, although the Wales side had a much-changed character about it.

With rugby union having gone fully professional in 1995, the steady flow of players north from south Wales' 15-a-side heartland had largely dried up.

That saw a greater percentage of the squad drawn from rugby league's traditional territory, while the management's search for players with Welsh heritage unearthed a few gems such as Canberra Raiders prop Justin Morgan.

But while there had been a certain amount of rebuilding undertaken, Wales were still able to field the talents of Harris, Sullivan, Cunningham, Lee Briers, Anthony Farrell and Neil Cowie.

_70728722_keironcunninghamwales_get.jpg

Hooker Keiron Cunningham was one of the mainstays of Wales' 2000 World Cup squad

Wales were drawn in Group 2 alongside New Zealand, Lebanon and the Cook Islands - their first opponents, whom they disposed of 38-6 with ex-North Queensland centre Kris Tassell scoring a hat-trick.

Next up were Lebanon. Not a nation associated with rugby league excellence, the sizable number of second- and third-generation Lebanese in Australia meant Wales' opponents were actually packed with NRL experience.

Wales led 18-6 at half-time in Llanelli and when skipper Harris sent Wes Davies over for a 24-10 lead, the game looked safe for the home side.

But Lebanon staged a thrilling fightback as Hassan Saleh went over for two converted tries in the final three minutes, leaving Wales clinging on for a precious 24-22 win.

That result secured Wales' place in the quarter-finals before they faced New Zealand in their final pool match, which the Henry Paul-inspired Kiwis won at a canter - scoring 11 tries in a 58-18 win at the Millennium Stadium.

Kept away from any of the big guns in the quarter-finals, Wales were comfortable 22-8 winners over Papua New Guinea in their first knock-out match before facing favourites Australia in the semi-finals in Huddersfield.

When Brett Kimmorley and Wendell Sailor crossed early for the Kangaroos it seemed as though everything was going to script, but Wales produced a thrilling reply with three tries in eight minutes.

Ian Watson started the fightback, finishing off Farrell's break, before Tassell and Briers - brilliantly fielding Harris' high ball - touched down.

Harris converted all three tries, and with Briers adding two drop-goals Wales led 20-8 and were sniffing one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

But Australia reduced the deficit to 20-14 before half-time as Brad Fittler crossed for a converted try, then snuffed out Welsh hopes with a scintillating display in the final 25 minutes of the game.

Bryan Fletcher, Darren Lockyer, twice, Fittler, Craig Gower and Ben Kennedy all crossed to earn the Kangaroos a 46-22 win and send them into the final, where they crushed New Zealand 40-12.

There was no World Cup in 2004 and Wales failed to qualify for the 2008 World Cup in New Zealand, but under the guidance of Harris - who took over as coach in 2009 - they have steadily improved.

Wales enter the 2013 tournament as outside hopes, but the Dragons have shown in the past they should not be taken lightly and it would be no surprise if they add another notable scalp to their collection before they are finished.

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Wales crash out of the World Cup

 

WALES 16 USA 24

 

 

Wales crashed out of Rugby League World Cup 2013 with a disappointing performance in Wrexham, losing 16-24 to outsiders USA.

 

The game was played in front of a crowd of 8,019, the second biggest rugby league crowd ever at The Racecourse, being the opening Crusaders game here in 2010, and the biggest crowd for any sport at the ground this year.

 

The record Welsh win of all time is a 92-4 demolition of USA back in 1995 but on this occasion they didn’t recreate the spark that would have been shown on that college field in Philadelphia.

 

USA, who fielded a mixture of American born and heritage players, including five players from the US domestic leagues and four NRL players, simply took their chances when it was required and are now hot favourites to meet the Australians back at The Racecourse in the quarter-finals in a fortnight’s time.

 

The first real attack of the game for Wales saw them close to scoring. Matt Seamark launched a hopeful bomb over to the right wing, Elliot Kear palmed the ball down to Ian Webster but the US defence was too strong on this occasion.

 

Following an, in general, first 15 minutes of errors, Wales took the lead after an excellent move down the left wing. Neil Budworth slipped the ball to Rhys Williams who in turn fed Christiaan Roets who to the delight of his home North Wales Crusaders fans, completed the move. Lloyd White missed the conversion.

 

But from a penalty, USA struck back when Clint Newton dived over from close range. Joseph Paulo shockingly missed from just right of the sticks and the score remained at 4-4.

 

Wales had the chances to take the lead but they didn’t have that final execution to be able to cross the line – Rhys Evans and Matt Seamark making forward passes at crucial moments were two chances that they blew.

 

The visitors took advantage and again Paulo was the instigator as slick passing gave Matt Peterson a chance to score in the corner, one he didn’t waste. Paulo’s kick was again no good and the States were 8-4 up at the break.

 

Wales needed a good start to the second half and they fought hard for a try back. However USA were more than matching everything the Welsh threw at them. Even after winning a repeat set Wales couldn’t touch down, Lloyd White being held up over the line on the final play.

 

Less than two minutes later and again Wales won a repeat set and yet again they didn’t get through despite some stand-out play from Rhys Evans. In the end, Matt Seamark failed to spot an in-space Elliot Kear on the right wing.

 

But Evans couldn’t continue his good performance at the other end. Dropping a high bomb five metres from his own line gave the US possession which they didn’t waste. Haveatama Luani set up Paulo who had plenty of space to score. The kick was again missed but Wales now needed two tries.

 

It wasn’t going to happen as USA continued to dominate. Tuisegasega Samoa was next over the line, crashing from short range after fooling the Welsh defence and Paulo’s first successful kick made the score 18-4.

 

Clint Newton put a rubber stamp on the game by scoring the State’s next try four minutes later. Paulo converted to give the US a 20-point lead.

 

Wales had some consolation when the always skilful Roets, who looks certain to flourish in the Championship next year, ran well to score his and the side’s second. Lloyd White converted to put Wales’ score into double figures.

 

Debutant Anthony Walker latched onto Peter Lupton’s kick for a Welsh third which White again goaled but it was nowhere near enough.

 

WALES

1 Rhys Evans (Warrington Wolves)

2 Elliot Kear (Bradford Bulls)

3 Ian Webster (Central Queensland Capras)

4 Christiaan Roets (North Wales Crusaders)

5 Rhys Williams (Warrington Wolves)

6 Lloyd White (Widnes Vikings)

7 Matt Seamark (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)

8 Craig Kopczak (Huddersfield Giants)

9 Neil Budworth (Moranbah Moners) 

10 Jordan James (Salford Red Devils)

11 Larne Patrick (Huddersfield Giants)

12 Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons)

13 Ben Flower (Wigan Warriors)

14 Gil Dudson (Wigan Warriors)

15 Ben Evans (Bradford Bulls)

16 Peter Lupton (Workington Town)

17 Anthony Walker (St Helens)

 

Tries: Roets (16, 75), Walker (77)

Goals: White 2/3

 

USA

1 Kristian Freed (Connecticut Wildcats)

2 Bureta Faraimo (MacKay Cutters)

3 Lelauloto Tagaloa (Hawaii Chiefs)

4 Taylor Welch (Chicago Griffins)

5 Matthew Petersen (Cudgen Hornets)

6 Joseph Paulo (Parramatta Eels)

7 Craig Preistly (Southampton Dragons, USA)

8 Mark Offerdahl (AS Carcassonne)

9 Haveatama Luani (Wests Tigers)

10 Eddy Pettybourne (Wests Tigers)

11 Clint Newton (Penrith Panthers) 

12 Matthew Shipway (Newcastle South)

13 Daniel Howard (Wentworthville Magpies)

14 Tuisegasega Samoa (Redcliffe Dolphins)

15 Roman Hifo (Mangere East Hawks)

16 Judah Lavulo (Carbamatta)

17 Les Soloai (Portland Hunters)

 

Tries: Newton (20, 63), Peterson (33), Paulo (55), Samoa (60)

Goals: Paulo 2/5

 

Half-time: 4-8

Attendance: 8,019

Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia)

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Main Stand sold out for Wales game in Neath

 

Neath RFC and South Wales Scorpions are pleased to announce that the main stand for the Rugby League World Cup 2013 match between Wales v Cook Islands on Sunday 10th November (kick-off 2pm) has sold out.

There are now currently just terrace tickets on sale from the official Rugby League World Cup site but organisers are expecting a limited amount of seated tickets in the Family Stand to become available by Wednesday.

Currently just the covered terrace is on sale but should this now sell-out then the terrace at the clubhouse end will open.

Neath RFC chief executive Mike Harrison is delighted that tickets are selling so well for the biggest week of the year at The Gnoll.

“It will be fantastic to see a packed house at The Gnoll for rugby again,” he said. “The World Cup is bringing a lot of trade and support to Neath and we’re pleased it’s putting our town on the map.

“It’s a big week for us here in Neath. We’ve our always popular fireworks display at The Gnoll on Tuesday with tickets for that one selling fast and to top that off next Sunday with potentially the biggest rugby crowd of the year at The Gnoll is amazing.

“I encourage fans who haven’t yet bought tickets for the game to snap them up right now. It’s not every day that we have a World Cup match in our town!”

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Rugby League World - June 2017

League Express - Mon 17th July 2017