Grassroots Rugby League news round-up

Ukraine are scheduled to take part in the Under 19 European Championships, which will be hosted by Italy in the first eleven days of September.

Funding, initially set at £30,000 to cover the cost of transport, accommodation, kit and equipment, and preparation time, is being sought to facilitate their inclusion alongside reigning champions France, England, Ireland, Italy, Serbia, Scotland and Wales.

And in the light of the continuing impact of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, the European Rugby League and the UK-based charity Rugby League Cares are providing a fundraising platform to allow fans around the world to donate.

Artur Martyrosian, the president of the Ukrainian Federation of Rugby League (UFRL), said: “At this difficult time for Ukraine, the UFRL and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine – together with European Rugby League and our friends from around the world – have come together to make it possible for us to compete.

“We will continue the preparation of our team over the next few months and we plan to make Ukraine and the global game of Rugby League proud of our participation in the tournament.”

Chris Rostron of Rugby League Cares added: “We are a long established and trusted independent charity and we are delighted that we are able to support the UFRL’s plans to take part in the championship.

“We have seen the devastation and life-changing effects that the ongoing war has caused to the lives of civilians there. We know that sport brings hope and we are honoured to be playing our part in bringing that to the players involved and keeping the Rugby League flag flying in Ukraine during this very difficult time.

“I encourage everyone around the world who loves sport to play their part and make a donation in support of this immensely worthy cause.”

The championship, which has suffered a three-year hiatus because of the global coronavirus pandemic, is being used by hosts Italy as a further catalyst for their domestic activity.

Orazio D’Arro, president of the Federazione Italiana Rugby League, said: “I’d like to thank our board for their commitment to the tournament, for their patience over the last two years, and for managing the postponements so well.

“We are delighted to be hosting this prestigious event and to be able to showcase the country and Italian Rugby League to our colleagues in Europe. We especially welcome our friends from Ukraine who are going through so much at the moment.

“We’ll be using the tournament as a springboard to rejuvenate Rugby League in Italy after the pandemic, and we look forward to an amazing event.”

Scotland, meanwhile, have named Leigh Beattie as head coach, with Martin Wood as his assistant.

Beattie is head of youth at Bradford Bulls while Wood is assistant coach at Leeds Rhinos Scholarship and also head coach of the RAF.

James Sloggie, Scotland’s national development manager, said: “We are excited to welcome Leigh and Martin to their positions ahead of a number of strong candidates. I believe we have two excellent coaches and role models to take the Under 19 game in Scotland forward.”

Scotland RL Chair Scott Simon added: “Leigh and Martin bring a wealth of experience and expertise that will help further develop a player-focussed pathway and allow our talent to succeed.

“I’m looking forward to working with and supporting them to embed their coaching philosophies, develop an exciting brand of Under 19 rugby and continue to grow Rugby League opportunities in Scotland.”

Players interested in joining Scotland’s Under 19 programme should email team manager Alex Chandler at

Qualification is by birth, a parent or grandparent, or through five years’ residency in Scotland, and training will take place on Sunday 26 June and Sunday 28 August, on both occasions at Dalkeith RFC.

In addition, Scotland RL is seeking volunteers to help support the club, community and school games. Anyone interested should email James Sloggie at


England Community Lions Under 17 head coach Martyn Oxbury has named his 20-player squad for the two forthcoming internationals against France.

Both games are across the Channel, on Friday 22 July and Monday 25 July, at Marcel Roustan Stadium, Salon de Provence, and at the Delort Stadium, Marseille.

The party, which has been selected after three trials, includes one player from the South of England, winger Jake Parkes, who stars with Gillingham club Medway Dragons.

Oxbury said: “We started off our trials in Yorkshire when around 70 players attended, including some from London and Kent.

“A couple of weeks later we had a trial in Lancashire, featuring players from there and from Cumbria, plus any players we hadn’t seen from the South.

“Around another 70 players attended that and from the total of 140, the coaching staff picked 40 players for a final trial.

“From that, we’ve picked our 20-player squad and I have to say that I’ve been very impressed with the talent that we’ve seen.”

He continued: “It’s great that we’ve got players away from the traditional heartlands that have been put forward.

“Jake Parkes is a really good athletic player, he plays as a winger, is fast, has a good step and he really performed well at the trials. He’s earned his opportunity, competed against a number of other wingers, and has got in on merit.”

Three players turned out for the Lions last season, all gravitating to National Conference League level with their clubs. They are Scott Egan (Hensingham), who scored two tries against Wales last season, Ellis Nixon (Seaton) and Wigan St Judes’ Ellis Nixon.

Oxbury said: “The fact we’ve got those representatives from last year is good. They have stayed in that community game, they’ve gone back to their clubs and continued to play at a high level and therefore they have come back again to trial from scratch.

“It’s not the same coach as last year, so they have had to stand out to a new coaching group and it’s a real credit to them that they have done that and got picked again.”

England Community Lions Under 17 squad: Roman Shinks, Daniel Frost, Callum Palmer (all Wigan St Judes), Jack Townend, Ethan Dooley (both Skirlaugh), Frankie Fawcett, Waisale Ratuvou (both West Hull), Ewan Smith, Harry Higham (both Leigh Miners Rangers), Jake Parkes (Medway Dragons), Scott Egan (Hensingham), Ellis Nixon (Seaton Rangers), Luke Sinfield (Saddleworth Rangers), Myles Paul (Salford Roosters), Lewis Stewart (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Charlie Bahan (Siddal), Lewis Magson (West Bowling), Kieran Blan (Milford), Logan Senior (Brighouse Rangers), Bailey Lee (Thornhill Trojans).


Beverley have been fined £500 (£200 of which is suspended until the end of the 2023 season) after failing to fulfil the National Conference League Division Two fixture at Crosfields on Saturday 7 May.

The East Riding outfit didn’t travel because of a shortage of players, with only eleven men available through a combination of circumstances.

Conference bosses also handed down, at their discipline hearing, six-match bans on Declan Nicholson (Eastmoor Dragons), Josh Burland (Dewsbury Moor) and Liam Brown (Hunslet Warriors).

Nicholson had a seven-match suspension reduced for pleading guilty to a high tackle in the 44-10 home defeat at the hands of Division Three opponents Millom on 11 June while Burland, found guilty of running in and punching in Dewsbury Moor’s Division Two 18-16 win over Wigan St Judes on the same day, had an eight-match ban cut back because of his previous good record and guilty plea.

Brown was found guilty of running in and punching, and other contrary behaviour, in the 39-4 Division Two home defeat by Clock Face Miners on 21 May. Clock’s Frank Chestney, meanwhile, was sanctioned for tripping and banned for two games (reduced to one for his previous good record).

Wath Brow Hornets’ Owen McCartney will be kicking his heels for four games (reduced from five for his previous good record) for running in and punching at Premier Division neighbours Egremont Rangers, who were beaten 48-0 on 28 May. The same sanction was imposed on Rangers’ Toby Currie for the same offence in that game.

In another Cumbrian derby, on 4 June between Division Three rivals Millom and Hensingham (which Millom won 30-18), Jonty Robinson (Maroons) and Stephen Hodgson (Hens) were red carded for punching. Both were suspended for four games (reduced to three because of previous good records).

Jenson Hamilton of the Third Division’s Waterhead was suspended for four games (reduced to two in recognition of previous good behaviour and his guilty plea) for punching in the 34-6 win over Batley Boys on 21 May.

Elsewhere, James Worthington (Wigan St Judes) had a four-match ban cut back to two games – again in view of his previous good record and admission of guilt – for punching in the 28-16 defeat by Division Two pacesetters Crosfields on 14 May.


Illingworth celebrated their 60th anniversary on Saturday 11 June, with five games at Under 11, Girls’ Under 16 and open-age levels taking place.

Celebrations, in addition to the matches themselves – with Greetland All Rounders providing the opposition in the Yorkshire Men’s League clash – involved barbecues, bouncy castles and a DJ for the 600 folk who enjoyed the festival atmosphere.

A real highlight was the presence of guest of honour Peter Clayton, who played on the wing in the Halifax outfit’s first match in 1961, and who retains a keen interest in the club.

Official Tim Hardcastle said: “Special thanks to our friends and rivals at Batley Boys, East Leeds and Greetland, who joined us on the day, and the match officials and all the volunteers who helped the occasion run smoothly.”


New sides Swindon St George and the Royal Navy’s Brothers in Touch were among seven teams who enjoyed the first Masters South Festival since 2019.

Hosts Aldershot & Fleet, together with Medway, Solent, St Albans and Cardiff, also contested the Over 35 event, in which all matches officially end at 0-0 and players are obliged – not that they need much persuading – to socialise afterwards.

Following a shirt presentation to Aldershot & Fleet by new kit sponsor Murray Technical Services, of Romsey, the sides played two games each, all refereed with aplomb by Southern-based officials Stephen Lowrie and Bill Robinson, while Paul Field and Tom Harrison travelled down from the North.

Lowrie, of the host club, was central to organising the occasion, in which he played and officiated, while Ed Baldwin of Medway was also on hand to collect his Referee of the Festival award from the 2019 event, having missed the ceremony three years ago.

Harrison was the 2022 Referee of the Festival while Ernie ‘Trigger’ Laing (Medway) provided the Masters Moment, readily revealing he had not made a tackle on an opponent who had raced for a try over 60 metres.

Brothers in Touch were hailed as the Team of the Festival following a day that delighted Masters Southern region representative Ellen Lowrie.

The action now moves to the Yorkshire Masters Festival, at Doncaster Toll Bar, on Saturday 9 July.


A minute’s applause was held prior to the recent National Conference League Division Two fixture between Heworth and Clock Face Miners in memory of the Michael ‘Matty’ Morris.

Morris, who has passed away at the age of 86, played for Heworth in the 1940s before joining the committee, acting initially as the club’s delegate at meetings of the Yorkshire League.

He later became the club’s president, and was also very active in organising players’ reunions.

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