FAR & WIDE: Wales, Czech Republic, Norway, Serbia, Spain

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD
IN rugby league we like to do things at the last minute. It’s how we roll. But this has got to take the cake.
Jamaica are to tour the UK, playing Ireland at Bray and Wales at Wakefield. When? IN TWO WEEKS!
That’s right, an historic international tour has been announced three weeks before it commences. The games are on October 16 and October 21.
It will be the first international at Belle Vue since 1909.
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In other international action recently, the Czech Republic beat Norway 12-6 in Krupka.
The Czechs scored unconverted tries to Petr Šedina, Petr Fanda and Jan Howard with centre Henning Jørgensen posting the visitors’ touchdown.
Meanwhile, Serbia warmed up for the coming World Cup qualifiers by beating Spain 64-4 in Valencia.
There is also an Under 21s series between Lebanon and Serbia underway, with the Cedars winning game two 22-6.
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WELSH language TV station S4C is to show live the Dragons’ World Cup qualifier against Serbia on October 15 from Parc Stebonheath in Llanelli.
It’s the first time the national side has featured in a live broadcast on the station since the heady days of the 1995 World Cup, when their semi-final against England was played before a well-populated Old Trafford with thousands

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

THE JOY OF SIX: International Season Week One 2014

The Joy Of SixSANDOW SIN BIN

WHEN we went to Parramatta with claims Chris Sandow had played in an aboriginal knockout and been sent off for a shoulder charge followed by an elbow, Eels CEO Scott Seward told us: “He had permission to play. He passed a medical and the coach gave him his blessing. Chrissy has told us he was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge on a childhood friend. It was a bit of a joke between them.” But bootleg video on YouTube above appears to show a dismissal – with the elbow chiefly to blame. When Seward put this to Sandow, he insisted he wasn’t aware he had been sent off, only sin binned. We can’t find any record of a judiciary hearing. The title for the Murri Carnival at Redcliffe two weeks ago changed hands when it was discovered the winners, Murri Dingoes Blue, fielded a player who mistakenly believed his drugs suspension had expired. Parra’ refused permission for Joseph Paulo and Bereta Faraimo to play for the US in the Mitchelton Nines on Saturday.

PUNCHING ON 1

WE have often heard this year that “little guys wouldn’t be pushing big guys if they could still be punched”. It was just a theory until the Super League grand final, when little Lance Hohaia pushed big Ben Flower, then lunged at him with a raised forearm. As we know, Hohaia punched Flower twice, the second time when he was on his back, possibly unconscious. They both missed the rest of the game, leaving St Helens to limp to victory as they have all year. Had Flower – who left Old Trafford before fulltime – not opted out of Wales duty, he could at least have counted the upcoming European internationals against what will no doubt be a mammoth suspension. Condemnation of Flower has been widespread and almost unanimous. Soccer star Joe Barton Tweeted he had “little sympathy” for Hohaia because of the provocation, but later stressed he did not intend to defend the Welshman.

PUNCHING ON 2

LIKE Wigan’s Super League campaign, the proud 15-year-plus history of the United States Tomahawks may have come to an end with a punch at the weekend. The USARL is taking over running the game in the US and is likely to dispense with the old AMNRL trademark, meaning it was all on the line when the Americans trailed invitational side Iron Brothers 8-4 with three minutes left in a Nines quarter-final in Brisbane. The Tomahawks got the ball back but sometime-cage fighter Tui Samoa took umbrage to something a rival said and punched him. Water carrier Paulo – banned, as we said, by Parramatta from playing – helped separate them, Samoa was sent to the bin and Brothers scored again to eliminate the US 14-4.

GRACIOUSNESS AND GAFFES

AND what a mixed bag we had for rugby league public speaking at the weekend. On the plus side, congrats to departing Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin, the club’s player of the year Ben Hunt and CEO Paul White for their oratory at the club presentation. “Ben Hunt was entitled to test his value on the open market but he didn’t,” White told around 500 guests. “Although at a backyard barbecue I was at, he did get his message across to me by changing the words of the Status Quo song to ‘down, down, prices are down”. Griffin said: “Whatever I do now, I’ll be a competitor. But I’ll never be a critic of this club or the people in it.” On the negative, St Helens’ Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, at fulltime on live TV: “I’m absolutely buzzing. I could fucking swear”. Yes, he said those words – in that order.

WORLDWIDE LIVE

SOUTHS chief executive Shane Richardson has savaged the running of the international game in Britain’s The Observer. “I look at the state of international rugby league and it just makes me angry,” Richardson – citing the departure of Sam Burgess as a symptom of the problem – said. “I know from the years I’ve spent in the game, and the contacts I’ve made in business, and the places I’ve been around the world, that there’s a potential to do so much more.” Nevertheless, Greece played their first home international at the weekend, beating the Czechs 68-16 in Athens, the Philippines defeated Vanuatu 32-16 on remote Santo and Norway were preparing to meet Thailand in Bangkok. Next weekend, Latin America faces Portugal and Fiji takes on Lebanon, both in Sydney while Tonga take on PNG in Lae and the European Championships commence.

RETIRING ON A HIGH

REPORTS of veteran rugby league photographer Col Whelan’s retirement were greatly exaggerated last year. The NRL weren’t quite ready to take over Col’s operation and he went around in 2014 for one last season – wearing a South Sydney cap to every game. NRL rules prohibit media from wearing club merchandise but the media areas are full of uniformed club staff posting on social media, an inconsistency the irascible snapper sought to highlight. At fulltime on grand final day in the bunnies rooms, players became concerned Col had stopped shooting. He was crying with happiness. At the Red and Green ball, Whelan presented every player with a disc containing 120 photos of their life-defining triumph. What a way to go out – enjoy your retirement, Col.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

FAR & WIDE: Number 40

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD
SYDNEY Roosters utility Daniel Mortimer has pulled out of the Welsh World Cup squad for a very straightforward reason – he doesn’t qualify.
“(My grandmother) always told me she was Welsh but she was born in England and moved there when she was six months old,” Mortimer tells Far & Wide.
“She was there until she was 20, she always considered herself Welsh but I couldn’t get the documentation to get it across the line, unfortunately.”
Details like that didn’t stop Chris Morley, brother of Adrian, from having a long and distinguished career with the Dragons. As Morely reveals in his biography, Chris merely told coaches he was Welsh, they believed him, and that was that!.
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WE can reveal here that ABC radio has secured the rights to the semi-finals and final of the World Cup.
After negotiations with IMG, which owns the broadcast rights to the tournament, the national broadcaster agreed to cover ‘The Big Hit’ semi-final double-header at Wembley on November 23 and the final at Old Trafford a week later.
So far, no deal has been done regarding the pool matches.
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MORE embarassment for the European game recently with Norway docked to European Shield points for fielding five ineligible players (good move, Daniel Mortimer!) against the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
Omar Baghdadi, Sean Casey, Timothy Hackney, Tim Rowan and Isaac Schmidt have been suspended until such time as they can prove they aren’t ring-ins. Norway have also pulled out of a planned trip to Canada.
The European Shield will be determined on September 28 when the Ukrainians play the Czechs.
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PHILIPPINES captain Luke Srama – brother of Gold Coast hooker Matt – has opened a recruitment agency aiming to show players you can see the world playing rugby league.
Srama aims to put clubs in touch with players, and vice versa, through his facebook page Srama League Recruitment. He already has more than 1000 ‘likes’!
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BUSY week this week with the Jacksonville Axemen announcing plans to explore the possibility of expanding the game in the south-eastern United States.
“One of the clear goals of SERL has always been to expand and grow the game of Rugby League in our region”, said Axemen founder Daryl ‘Spinner’ Howland.
“It is now time to see if we can help other cities start their own team to compete in the USA Rugby League. The Axemen and our minor league teams are proof that this game can be viable enough to be self supporting, providing the right people come together to form the core of the operation.
“This (September 8) meeting will be about sharing our knowledge, the good, bad and ugly of the past eight years, and to gauge the interest in the cities we have earmarked as potential expansion markets.

“In addition to Daytona, Orlando and Tampa, delegations from Atlanta and South Carolina will attend the meeting to share thoughts, ideas, potential challenges and opportunities in each city.”
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 31

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

MORE World Cup warm-up news from your favourite RLWC news source and New Zealand are set to take on the Cook Islands the week before the tournament commences.

Far & Wide has been told Doncaster is being looked at as a possible venue. It’s going to be a big moment for the Cooks to take on their ‘big brothers’, whom they are unlikely to meet in the tournament proper.

Of course, the Kiwis owe the Cooks big time after canning an international in Rarotonga at the last minute when the Warriors made the 2011 grand final the previous week.

At the time, there was great disquiet in the Cooks and demands for compensation.

Salford is likely to host the England-Italy warm-up while France will tangle with the United States in Toulouse on October 18.

Australia aren’t planning a warm-up but just about everyone else is. We’ll update you as soon as we can.

Meanwhile, Affiliated States combination will tour Samoa some time in September.

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FRENCH rugby league has been restructured for the coming season, which runs during the northern hemisphere winter.

There will be an eight-team Elite One Championship and then Elite Two East and Elite Two West. You play every team in your league once and then there is some complicated inter-league system which Far and Wide is struggling to understand.

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NORWAY have a bit European Bowl appointment with the Ukraine this weekend and if you think the State of Origin coaches bend the rules regarding bringing extra players into camp, check out coach Matt South’s squad.

He has whittled it down to …. 38 players. Ten are provided by the gun Oslo Capitals club.

The match is in Kharkov on July 6. The Ukraine squad is a much less unwieldy 20 players.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK