Far & Wide: July 27 2015

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

OFFICIALS are hailing this year’s Ohana Cup at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium as the best yet, with Samoa thrilling around 8000 fans in their 20-4 win over Tonga.

The Hawaiian Rugby League are still trying to lure Penrith and Brisbane to the holiday isle, despite the reservations of the NRL, and plan to use next year’s event as a precursor to a state competition for domestic players.

“We’ll shoot for four month competition starting next July,” says organiser Steve Johnson.

The Western Corridor NRL bid boss also revealed he wanted this year’s game to be a double-header, with the United States taking on Fiji in the earlier game. But the newly rebranded USA Hawks weren’t interested.

LeagueWeek Back IssuesHe said ESPN Radio and Western Union were two American companies hugely impress with what they saw just over a week ago and keen to be involved again in future.

“Samoa is one of the big places Western Union does transfers to from Hawaii and we spoke to them about putting something back,” he said.

“American sports aren’t involved in the community like rugby league is. That impresses a lot of companies in Hawaii.

“ESPN Sport were blown away by rugby league. They’d never seen it before and they want to cover whatever we do.”

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ON the mainland, the US has named a 35-man train-on squad for the upcoming internationals against Canada.

And, as is consistent with the change of administration for the game in America, there are 28 potential international newcomers.

A number of training camps are to be held. The USARL National Championship Final will be held on rugby league’s 120th birthday, August 29.

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A PNG minister made headlines last week with some colourful quotes regarding the re-emergence of the Kumuls

State enterprise minister Ben Micah told parliament: “”We are going to hunt them down, we’ll kill them and we’ll eat them.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Number 35

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

THE Nordic Cup, favourite competition of the Sydney radio satirists at Fire Up, is underway for another year.
And there was a big upset is Oslo when Sweden beat Norway 40-22, after racing to an early 20-0 lead. Hooker Fabian Wikander posted two tries and six goals for a big points haul.
The Swedes now have the chance to seal the cup by winning in Kävlinge this weekend. The third game will take place a fortnight later.
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ANOTHER big success for the Canada Rugby League a week and a half ago with 5788 fans seeing the Wolverines defeat Jamaica 38-14.
The attendance follows a 7000-plus roll-up for the first of three Colonial Cup derbies against the United States.
Canada fullback Robin Legault posted his 11th try from as many appearances, while Sheffield Eagles’ Corey Hanson flew in to represent the Reggae Warriors and also got a share of the bounty.
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THE driving force behind Grand Prix Sports buying the AMNRL was a businessman from Fresno called William Tatham Jr.
But it’s a partnership that has not gone well with very few of the promised benefits coming to pass while the company continues to be closely related to rugby union.
When this was pointed out on a blog called 80thminute.com recently, Tatham himself made some comments at the bottom of the story.
He wrote: “Those who said I was insane to try to build professional rugby in the U.S., and do via the existing rugby infrastructure.

“Except for the strong leadership and foresight shown by USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville, and his capable team at USAR….

“My God were they were right.

“Regardless, I remain committed and after seven years and seven million fighting the fight, and re armed with Exclusive Sanction rights to the professional, and the new Olympic sport, of rugby sevens, through 2018 and beyond…. trust me…”

That’s right, the man who owns our sport in the US doesn’t seem to differentiate between it and rugby union! The blog is taking question suggestions for an upcoming interview with Tatham. Go there to contribute.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Number 33

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

IT will be interesting to see how many fans the Canadian Wolverines attract to Toronto’s Lamport Stadium this Saturday after an official attendance of 7169 showed up to see them beat the World Cup-bound United States two weekends ago.

The Canadians fought back from 20-10 down to win 36-20 but the crowd was the best result – bigger than some NRL and Super League games to see two sides basically of amateurs.

Far & Wide has had a fair bit to do with CRL boss Eric Perez and he’s a cluey guy. He’s been trying to secure a cross promotional deal with Sony Music, for instance.

Following Saturday’s clash with the Reggae Warriors, the Wolverines take on the US again in Philadelphia before returning home for clashes against Norway and a final Colonial Cup hit-out against the Tomahawks.

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THERE’S something of a social media campaign that’s been launched to find out more about what is going on in American Rugby League.

As regular readers will know, there are two competitions in the United States at the moment – the officially sanctioned AMNRL and the “rebel” USARL. The AMNRL is responsible for the Tomahawks side that’s going to the World Cup.

It remains to be seen if the national team will be chosen from both leagues or, as was the case during the Super League War for the Australian team at the 1995 World Cup, only from the “establishment” competition.

One USARL player, Akarika Dawn, was in the Tomahawks side that lost to Canada but the situation remains unclear..

The American website, 80thminute.com, is asking the AMNRL to answer the following questions:

phonto (1)Who Is In Charge Of The AMNRL?

Is David Niu Still Involved?

Who Are The Tomahawks Selectors?

Does Grand Prix Entertainment Own The League?

All seems fair enough to us at Far & Wide.

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WE’RE indebted to our good friend Terry Liberopoulos for the following information about Vanuatu’s post-season plans.

Apparently the international league newcomers are planning a Test against the Solomon Islands on NRL grand final weekend at Mackay’s Virgin Australia Stadium.

They are hoping to host the Solomons a week later in Port Vila. But there are fears of visa issues, which is why an announcement has been delayed.

An alternative opponent is being sourced. Meanwhile, Samoa – who will be coached by Matt Parish after Steve Price stood down – have launched a facebook page for their World Cup campaign.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK