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wackojacko

Rugby League reaches Guernsey

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Wasn't sure whether to put this on the International forum or not...

 

http://www.loverugbyleague.com/news_17564-rugby-league-launches-in-guernsey-thanks-to-former-super-league-star.html

 

Rugby league will take another small step forward this week, when the first competitive game of the sport is played in the Channel Islands.

Two teams of 12-13-year-olds are set to play each on Wednesday on the island of Guernsey, when La Mare will play Les Beaucamps.

Leading the initiative to bring the Greatest Game to the Channel Islands is former Swinton, Rochdale HornetsHuddersfield Giants, Halifax and Oldham player Paul Smith.

Smith played for the Giants in Super League between 2004 and 2006, making 69 Super Leagueappearances and scoring 13 tries.

Now, he is head of Maths at a local school on Guernsey, and is desperate to spread the gospel of the 13-a-side code in a prosperous and sports-mad place.

"I'm a schoolteacher, so I've got it started at my school, and I've got it going at another school," Smith told Love Rugby League.

"So it's two schools that will be playing. They've only just started with league, they're all rugby union players.

"They do enjoy their rugby union down here. Just after Christmas I started doing a bit of rugby league in training and things like that, to get started."

Smith made a conscious decision to play a junior game, before looking at establishing a foothold for rugby league in the open-age ranks.

Sparking some local rivalry with the nearby island of Jersey could perhaps be another step on the journey.

"The idea of this is that it's the easiest way of getting it going, with my contacts in the schools," Smith explained.

"I'm trying to create a bit of interest in it through the media, and, after the rugby union season has finished, I'm hoping to either set up a junior match against someone else, or a seniors game against a developing nation or similar.

"It's just baby steps at the moment. I'm based in Guernsey, which is quite a small island, about 60,000 live here.

"It'd be good if I could get a contact in Jersey, with someone doing something similar, as that's a bit of a bigger island, and then we can take it forward."

The strategy moving forward could well see a Guernsey select look to play a fixture against another developing nation, such as Belgium or Malta.

"That's ideally what I would want, to get a fixture like that," Smith added.

"To get some of the rugby union lads interested in playing a one-off game.

"Let's say if someone like Belgium or Malta visited, that would be massive for Guernsey, it would be like front page news.

"Even though it's a small island, it's a very wealthy island."

That wealth, coupled with a passionate interest in sport, could make Guernsey an important, if geographically small, outpost on rugby league's ever widening frontier.

The rugby union team on Jersey currently play in that code's Championship in England, the second tier.

Channel Islands rugby union also recently secured a sponsorship deal from banking group Investec, showing that cash is present in the region which could also help rugby league.

"It's a sports-mad island," Smith exaplained.

"The local football team play at three levels below the professionals, and they get two to three thousand people watching.

"The local rugby union team on Guernsey are in something like Division Two South, and they get quite good crowds, so it's quite a good sporting island, really.

"They like to get involved with anything that's going on.

"Specsavers, who sponsored the World Cup, are based in Guernsey.

"It would generate quite a bit of interest if we could get something like that going.

"There's lots of other companies based here for tax reasons.

"The finance sector is massive down here."

As for whether the Channel Islands have any potential Super League stars of the future among the ranks of their athletes, Smith is sure that there are some gems to be found.

"There are some really good athletes down here," he said.

"The rugby union teams play in the Hampsire set-up, and you see some people who are naturally good at running and tackling, and you think, 'Wow, they'd be ideal for rugby league.'

"But obviously they would need the experience of playing against similar people."

Edited by wackojacko

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I am based in the Channel Islands (Guernsey). This is great to see but it will be a tough slog as RU is very much part of the establishment here. They get a lot of blue chip sponsorship. I might look this fella up sounds like he needs some help.

 

The football team used to get 2-3k a couple of years ago. Now it is about 800 diehards. The union team gets similar crowds.

Edited by Scubby

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I am based in the Channel Islands (Guernsey). This is great to see but it will be a tough slog as RU is very much part of the establishment here. They get a lot of blue chip sponsorship. I might look this fella up sounds like he needs some help.

 

The football team used to get 2-3k a couple of years ago. Now it is about 800 diehards. The union team gets similar crowds.

 

Worth pointing out that Guernsey FC get incredible crowds relative the level of football they're playing in.

 

Surely there must be 13 fit men (or 12 plus you) on Guernsey who could challenge 13 equivalents on Jersey for an annual Muratti a treize?


Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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I am based in the Channel Islands (Guernsey). This is great to see but it will be a tough slog as RU is very much part of the establishment here. They get a lot of blue chip sponsorship. I might look this fella up sounds like he needs some help.

 

The football team used to get 2-3k a couple of years ago. Now it is about 800 diehards. The union team gets similar crowds.

I played for them for 2 seasons a few years back - and completely concur.  The annual Siam Cup (union) against Jersey had about 3-4000 fans, and one year we played it in Jersey and about 750 Guernsey fans travelled over for it - they had to put on an extra ferry.  There would be about 6/700 there for a regular club game.

 

One thing that I noticed (I was basically there to play rugby) is that only 1 pub showing rugby on TV - everywhere else showed english football. 

 

The guy starting RL is correct though - the island is incredibly sporty.  participation in Sport among adults is far higher than on the UK mainland.  Corporate Netball, there are softball pitches around the place etc etc.  Another thing - Touch was very big when I was there.  Really big.  Participation numbers were huge, and finals night (a wednesday) in the summer touch tournament was a big party in the town afterwards.  I believe it has dropped off a bit now, but I would suggest that Touch might be a better place to start looking for RL participants.  i'll drop the guy a message with this as a suggestion.

 

Absolute best of luck to him.


Rugby League: Alive and Handling

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I used to live on Guernsey. There wasn't a strong culture of playing rugby union (football, cricket and hockey being the main men's sports played there with a bit of tennis and basketball). Last I checked there's only two RU clubs there (Guernsey reserves and the other club whose name I forget join Jersey reserves and about 5 Jersey clubs in the Channel Islands league). At school it wasn't really a thing, when you got to 15 in the all boys private school you were allowed to choose it as option and that was about it

 

Good if rugby league can get in there though, they currently have a Gaelic football team for what it's worth and used to have an american football team so there is a market for a diverse range of sports

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If the play each other will they swap jerseys (or guernseys?) at full time!?!


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Surely a game up in Egremont would be appropriate?

Barrow Island surely?

Sarky lot

Edited by Bearman

Ron Banks

Bears and Barrow

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Jersey RFC are currently averaging 2067 in the RU Championship (level 2) which is the fourth highest in that league and in which they are currently 17 points clear of the relegation zone, but almost certainly unable to make the playoffs short of a miracle ('Prem-in-exile clubs Bristol and Worcester skew things with 7000+ and 5000+ respectively).

When they won level 3 in 2012 they were averaging slightly more than that, 2164, so they don't do too badly overall.

However, I'm not too sure how they'd take to RL there or on Guernsey. Best of luck though!


eh?

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