Grassroots Rugby League news round-up

Amateur Rugby League clubs can get behind the forthcoming World Cup – and boost their own coffers at the same time – by hosting events and festivals during August.

The Rugby Football League will hand over £500 to all supporting outfits in a grant scheme which constitutes the first stage of the governing body’s InspiredBy campaign, which aims to increase participation in the sport, in all its forms, before, during, and after RLWC.

InspiredBy will also help community clubs to become ‘World Cup Ready’ and build support for the three England teams.

Thomas Brindle, the RFL’s Head of Growth, said: “The profile of the World Cup tournament offers a huge opportunity for all of us involved in the game to inspire others to come and find out what Rugby League is all about. Grants are available now to help community clubs put on a festival or event aimed at giving young people their first taste of Rugby League. This can be during the day or in the evening – whenever and whatever works best to reach the greatest number of children and young people within a particular local community.

“InspiredBy is also about bringing some of the colour and vibrancy of the World Cup to community clubs. This is what we mean by ‘World Cup Ready’ – providing clubs with the collateral they need, such as bunting, balls and posters, to bring the World Cup to life at their home grounds and to demonstrate their support for our three England teams.”

Grassroots clubs are urged to apply without delay, outlining their proposed activity and explaining how it will attract new participants to Rugby League.


The National Conference League’s management group has announced that the result of the Premier Division fixture on Saturday 2 July between Hunslet Club Parkside and Lock Lane, which was abandoned midway through the second half, will stand.

Parkside were leading 16-6 when the referee Mark Clayton called a halt, citing fears for his safety. 

NCL Administrator Alan Smith said: “A discipline hearing will be held in due course to determine if there are to be any sanctions following the abandonment.”

Hunslet had posted tries by Chris Boyce and Luke Medley, with Josh Perkins kicking three goals and Ritchie Westwood landing the last score of the game – a penalty, on 48 minutes. Danny Sowerby had replied for the Lane, Tom Egan adding the goal.

THE 2022 BARLA National Youth Cup Final between Dewsbury Moor Maroons and West Hull, which was abandoned during extra time because of sustained fighting in the stands at the Millennium Stadium, Post Office Road, Featherstone, will be replayed behind closed doors, on a date and at a venue to be announced.

The sides had been locked at 16-16 on Saturday 2 July when Featherstone’s safety officer, after one warning had been ignored, felt he had no alternative other than to pull the plug on a contest in which Wests, who had led 16-0 at one stage, were down to twelve men, having had a player red-carded for dissent. Dewsbury Moor, meanwhile, were without a sin-binned player in a game which had hitherto been played in good spirit. 

BARLA’s sanctions are:

Dewsbury Moor: Spectators fighting and causing the abandonment of the game/damage to seating/bringing the game into disrepute – £1,000 fine (£500 of which is suspended for twelve months), plus £150 towards the cost of damage to seating.

West Hull: Spectators fighting and causing the abandonment of the game/players entering the stand/damage to seating/bringing the game into disrepute – £1,400 fine (£700 of which is suspended for twelve months), plus £150 towards the cost of damage to seating. Wests’ water carrier/assistant coach Nick Ellis, who has been found guilty of entering the stand during the ball, is suspended from all BARLA-sanctioned games for twelve months and has been fined £200 (£100 of which is suspended for twelve months).

BARLA chair Sue Taylor, while confirming that both clubs have the right of appeal to the Rugby Football League, said: “The game had been a great spectacle for everyone at the ground until the brawl commenced. The scenes and violence that followed, which included damage to seats in the main stand, were a disgrace.

“BARLA commenced a rigorous enquiry into the incident, including gathering information from both clubs as well as viewing obtainable video evidence of what occurred both on and off the field.

“As a result of that, and the actions of both clubs’ supporters, both clubs have been found guilty, disciplined and ordered to pay four-figure fines, which reflects how seriously BARLA takes an incident which brought the game into disrepute. In doing so, the Association is sending out a message to all clubs that such behaviour and conduct will not be tolerated by us at any BARLA-organised cup finals.”

She concluded: “In all of this we tend to forget about the players who, through no fault of their own, and in the biggest game of their lives, found the match was abandoned, without an outcome. Consequently, the match be replayed at a date and venue to be determined.”


England Community Lions’ Men’s, Under 19s and Women’s sides will shortly be operating under new coaching staff.

Paul Couch, of Lock Lane, and his assistant, Leigh Miners Rangers’ Gary McMahon, will take over the Men’s team at the turn of the year, in place of Richard Owen and Richard Knight. Couch had previously coached the Lions Under 23s, alongside Lee Roberts, while McMahon has been at the helm at the Under 19s, under Allan Coleman.

Also from next January, Distington boss Gary Hewer, together with Stuart Simmons of Pilkington Recs, will oversee the Under 19s; Coleman and McMahon will remain in charge of the youth side until September’s Under 19s European Championships have been completed.

Meanwhile, Hull KR’s Peter Grayburn and Jack Coates (Hull FC) have been named as coaches of England Community Lions Women with immediate effect, ahead of the fixture with Ireland at Wigan St Patricks on Friday 4 November. The duo replace Thomas Brindle, who has accepted a similar role with Wales, and his assistant Glenn Swailes.

Marc Lovering, the Rugby Football League’s Director of Participation and Development, said: “The standard of applications was high. The quality of the coaches looking to get involved with the programme is testament to the hard work that has been put in by all the volunteers involved who continue to drive what is an exceptional programme.

“We are pleased to welcome all the new coaches on board and would like to extend our gratitude to the departing coaches who have made a significant contribution during their time with us.”

The Lions Programme has, in addition, appointed five more Men’s Development Coaches, aimed at further strengthening the coaching structure across the country. The quintet are Martin Ellis (Latchford Albion), Jonathan Mann (Newton Storm), Adam Lavin (Orrell St James), David Blinkhorn (Dalton) and Rich Garbutt (Castleford Tigers).  And the programme will continue recruiting Women’s Development coaches after the autumn’s World Cup. 

THE 2022/23 BARLA County Championships are, it seems, unlikely to go ahead. 

Competitions involving Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire have taken place for many years, latterly – until the Covid-19 lockdowns – at Open Age, Under 19s and Under 16s.

League Express understands, however, that the Lancashire committee recently resigned en masse and that proposed games between Cumbria and Yorkshire will not be taking place.

Lancashire had dominated the various competitions in recent years. 

BARLA vice-chair Steve Manning told League Express: “At the latter end of May, Lancashire notified BARLA that they had disbanded their committee. This left little or no time to get a new committee in place for the 2022 competition.

“With the World Cup looming, the BARLA Board offered Yorkshire and Cumbria the opportunity, as a one-off, to play each other home and away. It was the opinion, however, that it would be too late for trial games to select squads for this year’s competition. Regrettably, the County Competition had to be cancelled for 2022 but will resume in 2023.”


There was a ‘first’ for Team Colostomy UK in mid-July when the side, after having played friendlies for five years, took part in the London 9s. 

The team’s first competitive experience involved matches against Albanian Eagles, Norway and Bangor Buffaloes: “A real continental twist,” reflects organiser Giovanni Cinque.

Team Colostomy’s next fixture is on Saturday 3 September, against a Chorley Panthers Select side.


Former players gathered at Bentley’s recent home National Conference League Division Three match with Batley Boys to chew the fat over memories stretching back nearly 60 years. 

One delighted attendee was Bob Fox, who recalls: “I formed the club in 1963 and was the Secretary for the first 20 years. From very humble beginnings Bentley have made tremendous progress and have now proved to be very worthy participants in the NCL, with first class plans in place to move from their present ground share with Wheatley Hills Rugby Union Club and relocate back to their original ground in Bentley.

“The ex-players had a tremendous afternoon and it’s great that the present committee recognise the pioneering work done to establish Rugby League in Bentley all those years ago. 

“Many of the lads from the early days have kept in touch with each other, as is evidenced by the excellent turnout – there was always a very good team spirit.”

He concluded: “We were all made very welcome indeed, especially by the Bentley Chairman, Pete Wainer. Long may their eventful and successful journey continue.”


Maryport played their first game of Masters Rugby League with a home match against long established neighbouring outfit Arlecdon Rams.

The West Cumbrian ‘derby’ followed the Port’s decision, a couple of months ago and driven by veteran Master Ronnie Spencer, to launch an Over 35s team, and the side’s secretary – and Masters debutant – Ian Ivison, said: “Everyone enjoyed themselves in rolling back the years; the game was fantastic.”

Over 20 players have registered to Maryport, including several of the club’s former Open Age players, parents of junior players and men who are new to the game. And, notably, a couple have signed from local rivals Glasson Rangers. Ken Harkin, back enjoying Masters fare at the age of 78 in his green shorts, exhibited his understanding of the Over 35s version of Rugby League, while Mark Pattison scored Maryport’s first-ever Masters try. “I loved, tonight, it’s been great, and I’m looking forward to the next game,” he said.

Ivison, meanwhile, reflected: “Not only was the game a success but the bar was full all evening. Normally we’d have just one member of our bar staff here, but tonight we had three!”


Folly Lane Women’s Masters had an enjoyable debut at hospitable hosts Leigh Miners Rangers who, mindful that several of the visiting players were making their first appearances in over a decade, rotated positions and personnel.

Anne-Marie Wood, who made history by scoring Folly’s first try, was one of those back in action after over ten years’ absence – 14 years in her case – enthused: “It was absolutely brilliant, fantastic. It is just so good simply because you can do it”.

Jenny McCaffery, another who was back in her boots after over a decade (and whose last open age game had, ironically, been at Leigh Miners) reflected: “It was played in good spirit and I really enjoyed myself.”

Leigh Miners’ 19 players included gold shorter debutant Elaine McKiernan, whose shorts and socks were a 60th birthday present and helped her make a positive. The Miners host another new side, Heworth, on Saturday 30 July.

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