The England Touch Regional Roadshow, which has been arranged in conjunction with In2Touch, gets underway at the weekend at ten venues across the land, with three taking place on Saturday 30 October and seven the following day.
The initiative is geared towards giving social teams, and more established sides, the chance to take part in a “a fun and informal tournament close to them”, said a Rugby Football League spokesman, who added: “Events will be run to the same format, and organised by England Touch’s regional leads, and will engage as many clubs and teams in their area as possible, regardless of whether they are affiliated to England Touch or not.”
Teams will operate on a mixed gender basis, with a minimum of two female players on the field at any one time. And, given that it’s Halloween weekend, fancy dress at some point during the day is being encouraged.
Saturday 30 October 2021
MIDLANDS/EAST OF ENGLAND: Eaton Park, Norwich (11.00am).
NORTH EAST/YORKSHIRE: Northallerton RUFC (10.30am-4.30pm).
SOUTH WEST: Truro and Penwith College, Truro, Cornwall (timings to be confirmed).
Sunday 31 October 2021
LONDON: London Irish RUFC, Hazelwood Centre, Sunbury, Middlesex (2.00pm-6.00pm – discounted tickets for London Irish home games included with team entry).
MIDLANDS: Gresham Sports Park, Nottingham (1.00pm-6.00pm).
NORTH WEST: Old Bedians RUFC, Manchester (1.00pm-5.00pm).
SOUTH: Bournemouth Touch Centre, Bournemouth Live Littledown Centre (12.00pm-3.00pm).
SOUTH WEST: Thornbury RUFC, Thornbury, South Gloucestershire (1.00pm-5.00pm).
THAMES VALLEY: Maidenhead RUFC, Berkshire (3.00pm-7.00pm, followed by social drinks).
WEST MIDLANDS/BIRMINGHAM: Moseley RUFC, Birmingham (3.00pm-7.00pm, followed by after-party).
WALES and Scotland have confirmed their squads ahead of this week’s Wheelchair international.
The hosts, who are ranked third in the world, lack Andrew Higgins, who is serving a one-match suspension. The squad is: Gary Preece (Hereford Harriers), Mason Baker, Ricki Davies, Stephen Halsey, Harry Jones, Lucie Roberts, Gary Taylor, Mark Williams, Stuart Williams (captain) (all North Wales Crusaders).
Scotland’s line-up is: Dave Anderson, David Birtles, Connor Blackmore, Midge Hartley, Neil Johnson, Bex Laing, Mike Mellon, Ryan Mellon, Cadyn Thomson, John Willans, Callum Young.
Wales head coach Stephen Jones said: “Following on from our hard-fought win against Ireland last week, we will again be fielding a mixed side of veterans, less experienced players and a debutant in Ricki Davies. With the new-look coaching team at Scotland, we are expecting to face a team that are out to prove they belong in the squad. It will be another hard game as always when we play the Scots. We have a slightly reduced squad, due to Andrew Higgins’ suspension, but I know this team will play their hearts out, and the players will be looking to cement their place in next year’s team for the Celtic Cup.”
Scotland head coach Mark Roughsedge said: “The squad is excited to be getting back out there on the pitch and this has been reflected in the hard work that they have been putting into training and away from sessions.
“We are starting to head in the right direction, and I am delighted to be welcoming three new caps to the squad for the Wales test.
“Our younger players have been fantastic, their energy and enthusiasm has helped us to raise our intensity to a new level. I am really looking forward to seeing how players like Ryan and Caydn perform as part of the next stage of their development.”
The match will be played at Glyndwr University, Wrexham on Saturday 30 October (12.45pm).
FEATHERSTONE LIONS have been demoted from the National Conference League’s Premier Division at their own request ahead of the 2022 campaign, when the flagship league will return to divisional fare after having operated, because of the coronavirus pandemic, on a regionalised basis this year.
NCL Administrator Alan Smith announced in a message to clubs: “Recently the management received a request from the Lions to come out of the Premier Division for several reasons, and to be dropped down into a lower one. The management has decided that they would be allowed to drop into Division One for 2022.”
Featherstone had closed League F in the regionalised 2021 season second-from-bottom, with four wins in thirteen outings.
Smith subsequently approached Leigh Miners Rangers, who had been relegated from tenth spot in 2019 (the last completed divisional season) and who had finished third in this year’s League B, inviting them to return to the top flight. “They have agreed,” said Smith, who reiterated that Askam and Gateshead Storm, who both withdrew from this year’s regionalised competition in its early stages, will not be returning to the fold as yet. He said: “They will play in local leagues; we wish both clubs well for the future and thank them for their contributions to the competition.”
He added: “Applications remain open for a short while for any teams that wish to enter the NCL, with a maximum of one new team allowed, to bring Division Three up to twelve sides.”
The bottom tier will operate with eleven teams next year should no applicants (of which six have already been received) meet the minimum criteria. Smith, meanwhile, concluded: “We are working on the calendar for next season, so we have start- and end-dates, and we are also waiting to hear how many entrants the NCL will have in the Betfred Challenge Cup.”
THE Rugby Football League has countered claims by the North West Youth League, as reported in last week’s League Express, that there has been minimal consultation over the planned Membership Scheme, via the `Our League Active’ banner, under which players will be charged directly to take part in amateur rugby.
North West U13s-15s chair Kevin Davidson, after stating that `Our League Active’ is the RFL’s “code for a mandatory membership scheme”, had insisted that consultation had amounted to a couple of one hour `Teams’ meetings, the most recent of which was in May. And he called for a meeting of clubs this Wednesday (27 October) at Golborne Parkside at which the league’s committee aimed to elicit views, discuss possible alternatives and agree on how to proceed, with the RFL invited to put their case.
The RFL, in last week’s community update to clubs, stated: “Last weekend we formally launched Our League Active for the 2022 community season.
“We’ve been working towards this point throughout the year and even before that, consulting regularly with community players, clubs, and leagues as well as our own Community Board to ensure their voices were heard.”
The statement continued: “There have been a good number of meetings with representatives from across the community game including all leagues and affiliate leagues, as well as clubs.
“There was also a public survey regarding Our League Active – and there have been several significant changes to the details of the membership scheme, most obviously to the pricing structure.”
And, in relation to the North West Youth League statement, the RFL stated: “We didn’t respond publicly to the attempt to undermine the launch last Friday afternoon. Addressing a couple of the specifics, there has been an extensive consultation process, as referred to above – and we also provided `open book’ access to NCL Chair Trevor Hunt and Thatto Heath Chair Mike Denning at the RFL’s Media City offices during the summer.
“They asked for detail of the level and cost of RFL support of the community game, and we were happy to provide it. Following their day at RFL HQ, Trevor said: `We were provided with evidence-based facts, figures, projections and case examples whilst being talked through the various legal processes that are undertaken on behalf of the community game and the players and volunteers within it. And we were given a full understanding of the implications of non-compliance to an unsuspecting but well-meaning individual if any of these processes should not be completed appropriately, and then something went wrong!
“`We left the sessions with a full understanding of what the running of a community Sport in 2021 (and beyond) necessitates to ensure compliance with numerous Government regulatory, medical and legal requirements; what this means to individuals, clubs and Leagues; and with a full and clear idea of the Sport England directives with regard to community sport self-sustainability, training and education.’”
The RFL concluded: “This is such an important moment. It is in the best interests of all parties to ensure we move forward together and continue to improve and develop the community game – and Our League Active is pivotal to doing so.
“To use a couple of recent examples, Our League coverage of NCL Finals Day, and RFL social media support requires a central administration; securing the CreatedBy World Cup funding for improved facilities requires a National Governing Body with strong relationships with Government. This is not to mention the extensive work that goes on behind the scenes by the way of safeguarding, match official recruitment, coach training, DBS approvals, a central operating system and much more.
“We’re in the process of finalising plans for the 2022 Betfred Challenge Cup, which will see the return of community clubs after the unavoidable disruption of 2021 – the sponsors are genuinely excited by this prospect. At this stage we envisage the first round in mid-January, which means a draw in December – more fantastic opportunities to promote the community game. We would urge all receiving this message to get behind Our League Active, to help us in explaining why it’s necessary, and why it can be such a boost for the community game.”
THE start of the Women’s Amateur Rugby League Association’s 2021-22 season has been put back from yesterday to this coming Sunday (31 October).
Fixtures have yet to be confirmed.
FORMER BARLA Great Britain internationals Dave O’Connor and Mick Appleyard are the first inductees into the Leeds & District League’s Hall of Fame.
The duo were hailed at the league’s inaugural reunion night on Friday at the palatial Leeds Irish Centre, with proceeds from the first of what is hoped will be many such occasions to be used to help sustain and nurture junior Rugby League in the city.
Dave O’Connor, an enthusiastic Yew Tree forward, was paralysed in 1984 through an injury sustained while playing for Great Britain in France, and passed away in 2012. His daughter Kirsty, who collected his certificate on behalf of the family, recalled that her father always insisted that had he ever have been able to walk again, he would have had no hesitation in playing Rugby League again.
Mick Appleyard, meanwhile, resisted many overtures from professional clubs, staying loyal to his beloved Bisons, and BARLA Great Britain. Typically, he said to the 400-strong audience: “This award belongs to everyone.”
Garry Schofield OBE, who presented the Dave O’Connor certificate, offered an impassioned reminder – gained at first as a product of Hunslet Parkside, who went on to captain BARLA Great Britain Under 18s on the successful 1983 tour to New Zealand – of the importance of amateur Rugby League.
Others to contribute from the stage, where Loz Baker was a more than capable MC throughout, included the inimitable Roy Dickinson, organiser Sam Horner, former Leeds and Bramley player Paul Fletcher – who went on to coach Milford and, with huge success, Leeds Met – and ex-Leeds and Wakefield fullback Richie Mathers (who was a product of East Leeds, which is adjacent to the Irish Centre). All paid tribute, movingly, to their amateur roots.
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