By STEVE MASCORD JACKSONVILLE Axemen have been the outstanding team of American rugby league for the last decade but they were toppled in the USARL grand final a couple of weekends back.
Northern Conference champions Philadelphia Fight took out the big one 42-20 at Boston University after eliminating the local club the previous week.
The Fight finished the season undefeated.
The US has announced a clash with Canada at Wilmington, Delaware on October 1.
. FORMER Penrith and Celtic Crusaders star Jarrod Sammut has been named in Malta’s squad for the upcoming internationals against Ireland and Thailand.
The Ireland game is in Bray on October 8, the Thailand match in Chiang Mai on October 28. The Knights will have different coaches for each match.
NORDIC Cup winners Norway are about to put their pride on the line with an away international against the Czech Republic.
The match will take place at RLC Dragons Krupka Stadium on September 24 (4pm kick-off if you’re thinking of going.
The sides last met three years ago, with Norway winning 26-14 in Oslo.
. JAMAICA and Canada have met in the first youth international for each team. The Canadians won the Under 17s game 24-4 in Kingston.
. SOUTH Wales Scorpions have been rebranded South Wales Ironmen and the club’s new CEO is a former rugby union international, Lee Byrne who wants to pilot the team into Super League.
A number of Scorpions/Ironmen players have been named in the Welsh side which is about to embark on a tour of Germany.
IN the aftermath of our story last week about the chaos engulfing Greek rugby league, the country has been kicked out of the European Federation.
The Greeks were earlier suspended for failing to meet fixture commitments and other irregularities.
Now the RLEF has announced: “The RLEF Board has formally expelled the Hellenic Federation of Rugby League from its membership after a four-month suspension period.
“During that time the HFRL was asked to establish its membership and youth programme, comply with financial audit requirements, and answer allegations of misappropriation of funds and maladministration of the sport.
“On 2 August the RLEF, invoking Article 18 of its constitution, wrote to the Hellenic Federation informing them of their expulsion and requested HFRL’s withdrawal from the membership by 9 August, which the Greek body confirmed in writing yesterday.
“In April 2016, the RLEF membership voted 33-1 in favour of the resolution to suspend the Hellenic Federation, for wilfully acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the overall governing body and international rugby league.”
The truth of the matter is that the sanctions are really aimed at one official: Tasos Pantazidis. Far and Wide does not suggest Pantazidis misappropriated funds but clubs have rebelled against his administration and the RLEF has effectively sided with those clubs by expelling Greece.
The RLEF now wants to run its own Greek competitions and is advertising for players.
Pantazidis has affiliated with the Modern Pentathlon authorities in Greece and, as far as we know, plans to continue running rugby league as well.
. SINCE last week we’ve has a long-ish chat with Jason Moore, the Australian promoter who wants to take the 2021 World Cup to the US, and came away impressed.
We’ll share some of the key elements of what he had to say in a future feature but I asked him whether it would be such a bad thing if they were passed over this time and got the 2025 tournament.
“It’s almost like ‘shut the gate, the horse has bolted’,” he argued. “This is a golden opportunity for rugby league.
“It may be a once in a generation/lifetime scenario.”
The rugby union World Cup basically can’t come here before 2023. It would be a great piece of rugby league global marketing to get in ahead of that.
“But also it has to be the dominant rugby code in the United States because of the hosting of the World Cup.
“And it’s also the RLIF should consider as a bold statement.”
. DANISH winger Mads Hansen scored a hat-trick as Denmark took out the Nordic Cup match against Sweden 50-18. The trophy had already been secured by Norway.
That Tri-Series we told you about last week has also kicked off, with Belgium downing Germany 26-12 at Mendesportanlage.
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. . 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. . 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.