THREE National Conference League teams have been elevated to higher sections for the 2022 campaign, which gets underway on Saturday 5 March, following last week’s announcement that Premier Division outfit Underbank Rangers are to withdraw from the flagship competition.
Thornhill Trojans will operate in the top flight while Saddleworth Rangers will take the Trojans’ place in Division One.
Heworth, meanwhile, will step up to Division Two to fill the gap left by Rangers.
Conference administrator Alan Smith told League Express: “The top three divisions will therefore have twelve teams each. At present, Division Three will have ten teams, although the Management is considering two applications from clubs to join next season.”
The NCL has reverted to a divisional structure, based on standings that pertained in 2020, after having operated on a regionalised basis last season in the face of the Covid pandemic.
Next year’s competition will – as things stand – comprise:
PREMIER DIVISION: Egremont Rangers, Hunslet Club Parkside, Leigh Miners Rangers, Lock Lane, Pilkington Recs, Rochdale Mayfield, Siddal, Thatto Heath Crusaders, Thornhill Trojans, Wath Brow Hornets, West Hull, York Acorn.
DIVISION ONE: Featherstone Lions, Hull Dockers, Ince Rose Bridge, Kells, Milford, Myton Warriors, Oulton Raiders, Saddleworth Rangers, Skirlaugh, Stanningley, West Bowling, Wigan St Patricks.
DIVISION TWO: Barrow Island, Beverley, Bradford Dudley Hill, Clock Face Miners, Crosfields, Dewsbury Celtic, Dewsbury Moor Maroons, Heworth, Hunslet Warriors, Normanton Knights, Wigan St Judes, Woolston Rovers.
DIVISION THREE: Batley Boys, Drighlington, East Leeds, Eastmoor Dragons, Hensingham, Leigh East, Millom, Oldham St Annes, Shaw Cross Sharks, Waterhead Warriors.
THE Castleford & Featherstone ARL, which is aiming to relaunch its representative side, is delighted to announce a partnership with leading Danish sports brand Hummel.
Hummel will be supporting the league in a number of ventures and also providing all new kit and teamwear for the district team.
Hummel have recently added over 30 grassroots clubs to an already impressive portfolio that includes local leading Betfred Championship and Super League hopefuls Featherstone Rovers.
Castleford & Featherstone District League chairman Phil Hodgson said: “We are delighted that Craig Poskitt came forward so quickly with Hummel’s backing. It’s a massive boost as we seek to get the team off the ground after the last successful initiative 14 years ago, and we are very grateful for the support of a major global company.”
He added: “We are talking to potential opponents, with two or three looking positive. In addition we have a meeting of our clubs planned for December, when we’ll set about agreeing management structures and assessing applications for the coaching roles. The idea is that each of our clubs will be represented by two or three players in the squad, as a means of bringing everyone together in a common cause.”
Poskitt said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to help the Castleford & Featherstone ARL set about reforming its district side.
“Personally I think it’s an outstanding effort for the guys to lead this initiative throughout the country. Rugby League is at the heart of the community, a place where Hummel have a growing presence, and we will continue to support wherever we can.”
Clubs have been asked to submit expressions of interest in the new team to league secretary Linda Peel, at firstname.lastname@example.org, together with nominations for coaches and a team manager.
Meanwhile the draw for the first round of the David Poulter Open Cup is: Fryston Warriors A v Sherburn Bears; Castleford Panthers v Fryston Warriors; Lock Lane v Allerton Bywater; Featherstone Lions v Cutsyke Raiders. Ties, other than that between Featherstone and Cutsyke, which is to take place in the New Year, are to be played on Saturday 4 December.
FOUR sides will take part in an International Masters Festival on Sunday (21 November).
Hosts England will be joined by Canada, Ireland and Wales at Leigh East.
Canada warmed up for the event by playing a ‘Dads and Lads’ team at Hunslet’s South Leeds Stadium yesterday. The Grizzlies have in their party a referee, Ray Hutson, who while in England will meet up with his father and his dad’s new family. “I have not seen him since I was 10, 48 years ago,” says Ray.
THE 2021 North East Masters Festival, which had originally been scheduled to coincide with the Rugby League World Cup, went ahead as planned at Jarrovians RUFC, with eight teams and 120 players, including several debutants, taking part.
Sides involved were Arlecdon, Barrow, Carlisle, Haresfinch, Leigh East, Leyland, North East Masters and West Bowling, whose players were joined by individual Masters from Chester Gladiators, Club Masters, Leeds, Ossett, St Albans, Weetwood and West Cumbria.
Teams played two 30-minute games, refereed by Paul Field (Siddal), Martin Flynn (Club Masters), Tom Harrison (Blackpool) and Terry Mellor (Boothtown), while Anne Field and Catherine Flynn dealt with registrations and administration.
Organiser George Taylor of North-East Masters said: “It was a great day, with some of the best Masters games I have played in over the years. The banter was outstanding!”
Leyland’s Carl Rollins, who had made the festival weekend his stag do, won the Master of the Day award, while West Bowling were the Team of the Festival in their first Masters outing.
PAUL ANDERSON will line up for Team Colostomy UK when the team turns out for the last time this year, against Bramley Buffaloes at Stanningley on Saturday (20 November).
The England Knights coach, who starred at prop for Bradford Bulls, St Helens, Great Britain and England, has been an ambassador for the charity since 2019, having himself experienced a temporary stoma early in his playing career.
The game kicks off at 2.30pm; entry is by voluntary donation, with all funds raised going to the charity Colostomy UK.
“NO scrums yet.”
The winter-based University and College Leagues will operate, for the remainder of the campaign, under the rules that pertained at the beginning of the 2021-22 season.
The Rugby Football League has confirmed that scrums will be reintroduced in 2022 but Adam Hughes, the RFL’s Development – Education Lead, told League Express: “College and University competitions that have started in 2021 will continue with the 2021 rules through to the completion of their seasons; the President’s Cup and Student Four Nations will follow the 2022 rules.”
Two other winter-based competitions, the Pennine League and the Women’s Amateur Rugby League Association’s two-division league, have yet to confirm their stances on reintroducing scrums.
RECENTLY-RETIRED Tyrone McCarthy has joined the National Conference League’s Woolston Rovers as coaching consultant.
The former Ireland international, 32, a Woolston product who represented Warrington Wolves, Northern Pride, Hull KR, Salford Red Devils, Leigh Centurions and St George Illawarra Dragons at professional level, will oversee a structure in which Rovers’ bid for promotion from Division Two will again be steered by Mal Holt; Rob Campbell and former professional player Billy Sheen have stepped in as his assistants.
The Warrington outfit’s second team, which operates in the North West Men’s League, will be coached by Liam Lawton and Mal Mason.
Woolston, meanwhile, are forging stronger structural links between their Under 18s team and their Open Age set-up. The Youth side will be coached by Dom Ball, who will be assisted by Rob Griffiths.
Secretary Dave Whalley said: “The addition of Tyrone and Billy, with their vast experience of the professional game, plus Dom and Rob, two current players who are Woolston through and through, to lead the Under 18s certainly more than bolsters our already established coaching team.”
Chairman Steve Moore added: “It really is an exciting time for us and we are delighted to see the coaching structure that Mal has put in place.
“To have Tyke coming on board as a coaching consultant is fantastic. The addition of Billy Sheen, Dom Ball and Rob Griffiths to complement the great work done by Mal, Rob Campbell, Liam Lawton and Mal Mason over the past few years means that we are in a really good place.”
WALES Rugby League has confirmed heritage numbers for players who have represented the country at Women’s level.
Details were announced prior to the recent fixture with Ireland – Wales’ first Women’s international on Welsh soil – and PRO Ian Golden said: “Wales normally only award a cap and a heritage number to those who have played in a full international, as in a match played against another nation (eg England, Australia, USA etc).
“This time, however, we will go against the tradition set by their other two elite sides – the men and the wheelchair – by naming players who have pulled on a Wales shirt for a friendly or first-class game but haven’t played in a full international.
“This is because Wales’ first two matches in 2019 were against Great Britain Teachers and England Lions. Wales used 23 players that year, all of whom played against the Teachers, and their shirt numbers in that game make up the first 23 heritage numbers.”
Head coach Thomas Brindle said: “We had to reward our founder players from 2019. If they hadn’t played for sides like Cardiff Blue Dragons and Rhondda Outlaws, who provided 22 of that original squad, we wouldn’t have had a team.
“We lost (all of) 2020 due to Covid, and fourteen of those 23 who played in 2019 haven’t been in Wales squads this year. It would be unfair to write them out of history, which is why we’ve bent our heritage number rules just this once.”
Wales Rugby League CEO Gareth Kear added: “When I took over in 2019 we didn’t have a single female Rugby League player in Wales outside of the Wheelchair game, so I am immensely proud of what’s been achieved.
“This first heritage women’s international list shows how far we have come and ensures that all of our founder players are recognised and etched in history as pioneers of women’s sport in Wales.”
The Wales Men’s side first played in 1908, but their heritage numbers were first calculated in 2010 by Ian Golden, using the research work by fellow historian Robert Gate that was published in his book “Gone North Volume 1” for matches up until 1984, and in Rothmans or League Express yearbooks from then on.
The Wales Wheelchair side (which also met Ireland that weekend) played their first match in 2012.
Wales Women’s heritage numbers are: 1 Savannah Ledsam, 2 Zoe Lewis, 3 Rebecca Llewellyn Ennis, 4 Seren Gough-Walters, 5 Megan Oaten, 6 Kathryn Salter, 7 Leanne Burnell, 8 Emily Hughes, 9 Jess Wallington, 10 Vicky Lea, 11 Joeann McGuire, 12 Ffion Owen, 13 Rafiuke Taylor, 14 Stacey Wright, 15 Kim Jones, 16 Lauren Aitken, 17 Rhian Stephens, 18 Laura Keeble, 19 Harriet Cooksey, 20 Shaunni Davies, 21 Karla Benjamin, 22 Charlie Mundy, 23 Sara Prosser, 24 Jess McAuley, 25 Lowri Norkett, 26 Eleri Michael, 27 Amberley Ruck, 28 Ffion Lewis, 29 Carys Marsh, 30 Keira McCosh, 31 Danyelle Dinapoli, 32 Sara Jones.
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