The British Amateur Rugby League Association, which is conducting an investigation into events that led to the recent Under 18s National Cup Final being abandoned during the first period of extra time, has asked the two clubs involved – Dewsbury Moor Maroons and West Hull – to provide what evidence they can of what sparked a sustained brawl in the main stand at the Millennium Stadium, Post Office Road, Featherstone.
The game, on Saturday 2 July, had passed without incident in finishing all-square, other than Wests’ Kieran Welburn being red-carded for dissent regarding the late penalty that had enabled the Moor to complete a fightback from 16-0 down.
But, as sustained fighting erupted in the stand shortly after extra time began – and with Dewsbury’s Luke Hatfield having been yellow-carded for interference – Featherstone Rovers’ safety officer felt it necessary, after a warning, to call a halt.
BARLA Chair Sue Taylor said: “We have requested that Dewsbury Moor Maroons and West Hull do a thorough, documented investigation within their respective clubs. BARLA is working with Featherstone Rovers on CCTV footage. Once we have all the information to hand, we will go through the discipline procedure as set out in the Community Game Operational Rules.”
Batley Boys have withdrawn from the National Conference League.
The shock news emerged on Friday morning, when the amateur game’s flagship league’s Administrator Alan Smith told clubs: “The NCL have been informed that Batley Boys have regretfully decided to withdraw from the league with immediate effect.
“As per competition rules the results for their remaining games will be entered as 23-15 to their opponents.”
No other reason was given for the Boys’ departure, which comes with a third of the regular season remaining.
Saturday’s home fixture with Division Three leaders East Leeds was therefore cancelled, with the first of what will be seven 23-15 scorelines, to cater for the number of Batley’s outstanding fixtures, invoked. The artificial score has been calculated by dividing the Boys’ `for and against’ totals of 233 and 346, as at 2 July, by 15 (the number of matches the Heavy Woollen outfit had played).
Batley Boys, who had lost their last three games (14-6 at Bentley last week, preceded by a 42-0 reverse at Millom and a 14-6 home reverse at the hands of promotion hopefuls Oldham St Annes) had not responded, at the time of going to press, to League Express’s request for a comment.
Wales’ squad for the Under 19s European Championships, which will take place in Italy in September, includes eleven players who have gravitated through the Wales Rugby League National Development Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd.
The success of the Academy is further illustrated by the fact that five of those have been signed by Wales RL’s Super League partners Salford Red Devils.
Further evidence of Wales’ well-honed representative structure is that the squad includes eleven of last year’s Under 17s team, and eight of 2021’s Under 16s. However, head coach Wayne Ponting is always on the look-out for emerging talent and `new kids on the international block’ include Rhys Davies, who has recently joined Coleg y Cymoedd and who was at Aber Valley Wolves pre-pandemic, Ethan Harley of Telford Raiders, Rob Muirhead (Marchogion Môn Knights), and Gethin Thomas of Fremantle Roosters, who has represented Western Australia at U18 level and will be flying over to join the squad next month.
Ponting’s squad is: Michael Carter, Bradley Toy (both Aber Valley Wolves), Will McCarthy, Isaac Morgan (both Aberavon Fighting Irish), Sam Godfrey, Llewellyn Hawkes, Lewis Ingram (all Bridgend Blue Bulls), Jamie Jenkins, Dylan Morgan (both Cardiff Blue Dragons), Alex Banks, Bradley Williams (Cynon Valley Cavaliers), Gethin Thomas (Fremantle Roosters), Oscar Fisher (Gateshead Storm/Newcastle Thunder), Robert Muirhead (Marchogion Môn Knights), Mason Phillips (Rhondda Outlaws), Charlie Glover, Connor Lacey, Scott Pritchard, Billy Walkley, Finley Yates (all Salford Red Devils), Ethan Harley (Telford Raiders), Carter Barnes (Torfaen Tigers), Rhys Davies, Harrison Garland-Griffiths (unattached). Toy, Jenkins, Dylan Morgan, Banks, Williams, Phillips, Lacey, Pritchard, Yates, Barnes and Davies are the players produced by Coleg y Cymoedd.
Ponting said: “To select a squad to travel and compete in the European Championships has posed some headaches. We have had a number of training sessions and the boys have been working really hard and pushing each other to raise the standards and get better each time, which is what we’ve asked of them, so that’s very pleasing as staff to see.
“It was always a tough decision to cut the squad down as the talent of the players this year was very high; we can’t wait to continue to progress now in our preparations and build on the last tournament, pre-covid in Serbia, when we finished in third place.”
Wales RL’s General Manager, Mark Jones, added: “With the success this year of the Wales 16s, Wales Women, and six new caps for Wales Men against France, it is evident that our player pathways are flourishing.
“Wayne and his staff have selected a very strong squad, with many of the players benefitting from both partnerships with Salford Red Devils and Coleg y Cymoedd, along with the excellent
Wales 16s and 17s programmes in 2021. The Salford Reds elite days and the full-time Rugby League programme at Cymoedd is allowing more contact time with our players and driving standards forward.”
The European Under 19s Championships, which will involve eight teams, including Ukraine, will take place in in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy, from 1-11 September.
The 2022 Wales Women’s Rugby League’s domestic season, which gets underway on Sunday (17 July) was preceded by a Cardiff Demons `Development Day’ at the Wales RL’s Centre of Sporting Excellence in Ystrad Mynach, which was geared to potential players aged 14-18.
Cardiff Demons, who have started the Super League South campaign in scintillating style, winning all three of their fixtures – and twice keeping the opposition scoreless – will allow players to rejoin their local clubs this Sunday.
The three-team league comprises Bridgend Blue Bulls, Rhondda Outlaws and Cardiff Blue Dragons; the sides will play each other once, with the top two meeting in a Grand Final on Sunday 21 August.
Sunday 17 July 2022: Bridgend Blue Bulls v Rhondda Outlaws.
Sunday 24 July 2022: Rhondda Outlaws v Cardiff Blue Dragons.
Sunday 7 August 2022: Cardiff Blue Dragons v Bridgend Blue Bulls.
Sunday 21 August 2022: Grand Final.
Wales Women’s representative season will kick-start on Saturday 17 September when West Wales host East Wales as part of a double header with the men’s West v East clash. And, on a date to be confirmed, the inaugural Wales Dragonhearts Women’s game will take place, against opposition yet to be announced. The team will feature players who haven’t been in the Wales squad this year, and who must have appeared either in at least two club games, or in one club fixture and an Origin match.
Louise Morgan, head of women’s development in Wales, said: “I’m really excited about how this summer is panning out. We’ve already had success for our national side against Italy, an excellent start for the Demons, and now we’re looking at a month-long domestic season with representative honours at the end of it. Plus, with the Under 16s and Under 18s development day, we’re really building a solid structure for female Rugby League players in Wales.”
The Wales RL, meanwhile, is seeking coaches and team managers for the Dragonhearts’ men and women’s sides, while there are opportunities for head coaches, assistant coaches and team managers. The Women’s team manager will also have the chance to manage Cardiff Demons and the Wales national side; the assistant coaches will also coach the East and West Wales regional sides.
Bids are being sought for the right to host the 2023 European Rugby League Wheelchair Championships.
The host nation must be able “to demonstrate the capacity to deliver the tournament to a high standard operationally and increase the value of the championship as a commercial property,” said European General Manager David Butler, who added, “additionally, the governing body is seeking to support new nations playing Wheelchair Rugby League by staging technical education activities and non-championship games as part of the event.”
Butler continued: “Wheelchair Rugby League is such an exciting variant and we’re thrilled to be inviting our members to tender. The recent mid-season internationals between Ireland and Scotland, and England versus France, showed everything which is great about the sport, and we’re excited to see the responses for what will be a fantastic event for the continent.”
A deadline has been set of Monday 22 August for submissions.
The Wales Wheelchair Rugby League side, which is looking ahead to the autumn’s World Cup and a tour to Brazil early next year, is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
Wales met Scotland, who were also on debut, on 7 July 2012 in the inaugural Wheelchair Four Nations tournament, at Hull, winning 20-6; the aggregate score of 26 points remains the lowest recorded in any Wales Wheelchair international.
Wales Wheelchair have completed 43 games – the most by any Welsh international side in the last ten years – winning 23 and losing 20. They have, in addition, been the most successful, with a real highlight being the 25-16 victory over Australia in 2013, a triumph which in only their fifth fixture propelled them to the World Cup semi-finals. The teams met again in the third-placed play-off, Wales again prevailing, the 16-14 verdict representing the side’s lowest-ever winning margin.
Wales, meanwhile, have dominated the Celtic Cup, which is also contested by Ireland and Scotland, and have yet to taste defeat, having won all twelve matches played in six tournaments; their recent 116-6 win over Scotland is the highest total ever registered by a Welsh international team. That result took Wales Wheelchair through 2,000 points, while Scott Trigg-Turner’s 48 points is Wales’ highest individual total.
Alan Caron, who holds the Wales record of 38 caps, in any version of Rugby League, said: “Originally, I was asked to help with a bit of coaching and to try and grow the game in Wales, then my eligibility to play for Wales was qualified through my grandparents.
“I started in rugby union, but not long after I started playing Rugby League, I picked up an injury which ended my running rugby career. Then many years later I was asked to play Wheelchair Rugby League and I really enjoyed it.
“For the first competition in Hull, we only had six players, and on the day with an hour to go, the kit arrived in the post, we had to find someone to get the tags stitched on just before the game, but we got the two wins. I’m so very proud that I was there at the start, and I’m still here now after ten years, I’m one proud Welshman.”
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.