FAR & WIDE: Ireland, Czech Republic, Japan, Greece, Hungary, France, Malta

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD
IN locations as diverse as Bray, Ireland, Prague, Czech Republic and Tokyo, Japan, our international season got underway at the weekend.
In Bray, the Irish Wolfhounds were taking on Malta and the home side ran out 56-10 winners. It was only in the dying stages they ran away with the match, however with the score 22-4 at halftime and 34-10 with 18 minutes to play.
Greece have had a tough year domestically, with the country expelled from the European Federation for a number of administrative irregularities.
But they have shown their fighting qualities with a successful visit to the Japanese capital, winning 74-0.
The game was played on an artificial surface in front of a vocal crowd of a couple of hundred. Australia-based players now proceed to Athens for a number of rugby league events.
In Prague the Czechs went down heavily to the visiting Ukraine, 64-12. The Ukraine won the earlier match 46-6, meaning they will be the side to progress in the World Cup qualifiers.
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AN innovative series played over the weekend was the Capitals of Europe Nines in Budapest.
The tournament at Epitok Sports Field featured teams from London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Belgrade, Paris, Vitez and Budapest.
London Warriors took out the event. Hungary are taking part in the Cabramatta Nines next year.
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MEETINGS are continuing aimed at having Emerging Nations curtain-raisers for next year’s World Cup in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
There now appears to be an alternate plan under consideration – a seven team Emerging Nations World Cup played in western Sydney.
The matches would all be played between November 20 and 25, with venues to include Pepper Stadium and Campbelltown Stadium.
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FORMER international Marc Palanques has joined the RLEF board as a representative of France.
Elsewhere, Wests Tigers’ Daniel Burke, alongside Jordan Grant and James Mirceski are newcomers to Serbia’s squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers – starting with this weekend’s visit to Wales.
Spain have also called up a couple of foreign-based stars, Hull’s Joel Laynez and Leandre Torres of French outfit Palau XIII.
Follow @RLWfarandwide

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FAR & WIDE: Europe, California, Women’s rugby league, Greece

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD
EUROPEAN Countries are getting ready for the final stage of World Cup qualifiers, with the matches played in the coming weeks.
Pool A includes Wales, Italy and Serbia while Pool B comprises Ireland, Spain and Russia. The top two in each group automatically qualifies for Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with second in each playing off for the final berth.
The tournament kicks off on October 15 at Moscow’s Fili Stadium, when the host country takes on Spain.
Of the six teams involved, Spain and Russia would be regarded as the outsiders.
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THE United States Rugby League is again making a push towards the Wesr Coast.
Jacksonville Axemen founder and Floridian league pioneer Daryl ‘Spinner’ Howland recently reached out to interested parties about getting a competition up and running.
He received quite a response.
It’s to be hoped those involved in California previously, such as Zane Hirtzell, Col Manners and Ben Everill can be involved.
We’ll keep you posted.
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SINCE our last column, we had the great announcement that the Women’s World Cup would be run concurrently with the men’s tournament next year.
And while Sydney controversially missed out on most of the men’s tournament, Wooloware’s Southern Cross Stadium will host the pool matches and finals.
The final itself will be played at Suncorp Stadium on December 2, the same day as the men’s final.
It’s a feather in the cap of RLWC CEO Andrew Hill that he was able to mend bridges between the tournament organising committee and the NSW government by attracting funding.
One can only assume the bridges were burned by former boss CEO, given that the government offered the men’s tournament no funding at all.
The US is playing Canada on October 1 at Wilmington, Delaware, and F&W will be there!
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THE RLEF is continuing to rebuild rugby league in Greece. It recently conducted match official training there, accrediting the country’s first female referee, Zoe Valassa.
@RLWfarandwide

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FAR & WIDE: July 2015

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

GAMES, dates and venues have been confirmed for this year’s European Championships.

It all starts on October 16 when Scotland plays Wales at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham. The next day, France takes on Ireland at Albi.

There’ll be only one game the following weekend, with Scotland hosting Ireland in Galshiels. That’s the same weekend as the Kiwis kick off their English tour with an old-style club game against Leeds.

Wales take on France in Cardiff on October 31. The series concludes on November 7 with France playing Scotland in Avignon and Ireland meeting Wales in Bray, with the winner being determined on a first past the post basis.

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VALENCIAN Warriors have won their first title, taking out the Spanish Cup final over Irreductibles Mislata, 32-12.

LeagueWeek Back IssuesCentre Christian Domínguez crossed twice for the victors. It’s the second year in a row that Irreductibles have lost the Cup final.

The Latvian premiership has also been determined, too. RC Fenkss finished on top of the four-team competition, ahead of Ķekava Warriors, Grobiņa Vikings and Livonia.

And the 10th Jamaican season has just kicked off.

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THE latest installment of Far & Wide 360 is back this Wednesday night as the final segment of NRL 360 on Fox Sports.

See an interview with rugby POW Sol Mokdad and the latest from everyone’s favourite hipster club, the Brooklyn Kings and the latest on a police request to ban State of Origin broadcasts in Papua New Guinea!

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FAR & WIDE: Number 47

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD
THE details are finally through for the mid-year international which will determine who becomes the fourth side in this year’s Four Nations.
Samoa will play Fiji in at Centrebet Stadium on Saturday May 3 in a clash certain to rock the foundations of the venue. Both sides are looking to call in players who may not have been available for last year’s World Cup, including the likes of John Sutton and Jarryd Hayne for the Bati.
The countries were initially told that the highest finisher of the Pacific Nations at the World Cup would qualify for the Four Nations. But then officials thought out that scenario, realising that two Pacific nations could easily be eliminated at the same stage of the tournament.
Had the original edict stood, F‍iji would have qualified; but now they have to overcome another hurdle.
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THE Rugby League European Federation has announced a new competition structure.
All three tiers of competition will come under the banner European Championship, which is the norm in other sports. The Cup, Shield and Bowl will become the European Championship, Championship B and Championship C respectively.
The winners of the Championship will join Australia, England and New Zealand in the 2016 Four Nations. The draw for Championship B has been released. It is:
SERBIA V UKRAINE – 17 May, Belgrade
UKRAINE V RUSSIA – 24 May, Kharkov
RUSSSIA V SERBIA – 21 June, Naro Fominsk
UKRAINE V ITALY 5 – July, Kharkov
ITALY V RUSSIA 26 – July, Gemona
SERBIA V ITALY 20 – September, Belgrade
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SCOTLAND have retained the same coaching team of Steve McCormack and his assistants Dave Rotheram and John Duffy for the upcoming Commonwealth Nines to be played as an exhibition sport at the Glasgow games.
But Italy coach Carlo Napolitano has stood down following the strong showing at the World Cup, earning praise from a wide range of people who worked with him in the capacity.
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Alot of our pre-season news seems to be coming from America, where the USARL are planning a development tour to Jamaica.
The tour is open to all; it’s not going to be a representative team as such. There’s a game against Duhaney Park Red Sharks on April 3and Jamaica Hurricanes on April 5.
If you’re in America right now and interested, contact Ryan McGough at rmcgough@usarl.com.
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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.”
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DISCORD 2013: Edition 36

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

TRADITIONAL media has clearly become so discredited among many people that even on the occasions it does its job, the default reaction from readers is distrust.

The Ben Barba imbroglio is the classic example of what the press ‘roundsman’ is there to do – find out stuff people don’t want him or her to know – and which may have been deliberately concealed.

This is the sort of practice that dates back to when advertising paid for journalism, before the age of journalism pandering to advertising.

The line in the sand for sports reporters was always whether an off-field incident or allegation affected on-field performances. If there was a reason a player was missing or a team was losing, the rationale was that the fans who paid through the gates each weekend had a right to know.

Let’s look at the arguments in favour of this particular affair remaining unreported:

1) The privacy of the alleged victim. Ainslie Currie denied being assaulted back in February and she is still denying it now. What’s changed with regard to her privacy?

2) Mental health of Ben Barba. According to Canterbury sponsor Gary Johnson, Barba was on ‘suicide watch’ at the time of his standing down and of this alleged incident. So, he was on suicide watch and back playing four weeks later and the governing body of the sport was not told? A governing body which has taken a strong stance with others in relation to the very type of allegations which were apparently kept secret from them? That seems, to me, to make those involved more culpable, not less so.

Newspapers and magazines are dying. They are cutting costs, increasingly aiming to entertain instead of inform and in a number of high profile cases, are seeking to exercise what little influence they have left in grotesque political campaigns.

But every now and then, a journalist still gets to do what the code of ethics – rather than the boss or the circulation figures or the ratings – dictate he or she must do.

There are still stories in the paper that aren’t there just to get your attention and point you towards adds and cross promotions for the proprietor’s other businesses.

And it’s worth considering, no matter how little respect you have left for the media: when the papers are dead and the journalists are in the dole queue, who’s going to be there to tell you that you’ve been deceived?

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GIVEN there has been so much happening domestically of late, you have probably missed a couple of significant developments abroad.

One, Norway was stripped of two European Bowl competition points for fielding five ineligible players against the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

Omar Baghdadi, Sean Casey, Timothy Hackney, Tim Rowan and Isaac Schmidt have all been banned indefinitely amid claims which have been upheld for the time being that they were ‘ring-ins’.

It’s important to understand many of the countries at this level have no domestic league to speak of and players roll up for Test matches the same way they would for park football in Sydney!

You would think things would be a tad more professional and reliable in Super League. But you’d be wrong.

The day before they played Huddersfield at the weekend, Wakefield sold their best player – halfback Tim Smith – to Salford so they could use the money to pay everyone else’s wages!

I kid you not. “Tim’s not playing today – we flogged him off to pay our bills”.

The Wildcats were duly beaten, 40-0. Huddersfield are minor premiers for the first time in 80 years.

Huddersfield is where the game was born in 1895. Now, scan the sentences above and tell me how far we have, or haven’t, come since then!

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COMMENTS now and I won’t go over them all in chapter and verse this week because, to be honest, as I write this it’s getting late.

FAR & WIDE: Number 13

By STEVE MASCORD

SYDNEY Roosters could play a pre-season game against the US in Hawaii next year.

Far & Wide has been told talks are underway between the AMNRL and the Roosters in Honolulu on the final weekend of January or the first weekend of February, around the time of American Football’s Pro Bowl.

The connection is obvious; Roosters assistant coach Matthew Elliott is the Tomahawks’ national coach. Meanwhile, we understand that the breakdown in the relationship between the AMNRL and Grand Prix Sports – which has been linked to the World Club Challenge, Nines and other projects – came down to some concerns about the American corporations methods.

But the fact the group has now been marginalised and has no official links to the game could make poaching raids on our top players an even greater danger.

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THERE’S lots happening on October 20 – in fact you’ll struggle to find a more exotic list of fixtures in the entire history of rugby league!

The Tri-Nations is kicking off in Europe with France hosting Wales, the last we heard the United States were taking on Melbourne in Philadelphia, Greece meets Vanuatu (boasting Ty Williams) in Port Vila and Thailand entertains the Philippines in Pattaya.

I didn’t pick the word “entertains” in relation to Pattaya for any specific reason, by the way.

The Philippines Rugby League has already announced that Gold Coast’s Kevin Gordon and Matt Srama plus South Sydney’s Andrew Everingham will play. Everingham’s brother Chris is in the Philippines playing for Alabang Eagles rugby club.

There is also talk of Lebanon playing the Cook Islands in Rarotonga around this date.

NB: The US-Melbourne game has now been cancelled.

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THIS is a big week for rugby league in the northern hemisphere. No, not the Challenge Cup final – that’s outside the remit of this column. It’s final of the USARL, between the Jacksonville Axemen and the Boston 13s!

The game will take place in Boston this Saturday after the Axemen disposed of the DC Slayers 58-0 and while the 13s beat the Philadelphia Fight 58-18.

No, there is still no sign of the Super Bowl between the winners of the two American comps, which would bring the game in America back together. The US will play Canada in internationals on September 8 and 22.

The wearerugby.com site reports: “Finally, there are plans in the pipeline for the 2012 Remembrance Cup game between another AMNRL Western Conference expansion team Las Vegas Warriors and Australian A-Grade club Coogee Dolphins of Sydney in Vegas in November.

The European Federation will hold a meeting on Thursday in London – with new boys Poland shown the ropes.

PS: Don’t forget we’re on facebook at @RLWfarandwide

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