FAR & WIDE: Number 29

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

OK, we think we’ve got to the bottom of what happened to the Samoans who were stranded in Hawaii for almost a week after their clash with the United States after failing to board their plane.

AMNRL officials Steve Johnson has corroborated what he was told by the Samoan Rugby League with Hawaiian Airlines.

Apparently all 23 players checked in but only 13 took off. The rest wandered around the airport and missed their flight. Because the first landfall was within US territory, the airline was able to give their seats to standby passengers.

New flights home were arranged several days later. We aren’t sure of the expense but there was minimal consular embarrassment, which is good for future events in the islands.

The good news is that 7000 people showed up for the game and rugby league is gaining a real foothold in Hawaii.

“We had two US congresspersons, the mayor and head of Hawaiian Tourism at the game,” says Johnson.

“It’s seriously exciting after a few years of hard work. We’re bringing another two Hawaiian lads to Ipswich to play for rest of the year.

“We have built some high level connections in Hawaii including government and TV”.

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MORE exotic fixtures continue to pop up at the end of the year.

Greece are going on a big adventure, fielding an ‘A’ team against Thailand in Bangkok on October 12 and playing a full international against Hungry in Budapest on October 26.

Australian –based players in the squad will also get the chance to play in the Greek domestic competition.

On July 12 at the Grand Roxy in Brighton Le Sands, the Greeks will be holding a fundraising dinner. It sounds like a top night and most drinks are included in the cover price. If you’re interested, contact Terry on 02 95348015.

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WE have a date and venue for the historic World Cup warm-up game between France and the US, the first game between the countries.

It’s going to be held on October 18 in Toulouse. More news on RLWC warm-ups as they come to hand.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Number 28

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

AN interesting and mysterious yarn popped up in the wake of the United States-Samoa Test in Hawaii a couple of weekends back.

Ten members of the Samoan side, all picked from the domestic competition, failed to board the plane home. Initially, there were fears they had deliberately gone AWOL in America but a Samoan newspaper report said they checked in for the flight but were “turned away at the gate”.

Another report said one player was missing so 10 refused to leave Hawaii without him.

The Samoans won the game 34-10. We’ll try to get to the bottom of things in the coming weeks.

“It was hard work getting the visas and I’d hate to think anything had happened to endanger future teams travelling to Hawaii for matches,” said the RLIF’s Tas Baitieri.

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EXCITING news from the Philippines with the Asia Cup confirmed for a venue 80 kilometres outside Manila in October.

The Filipinos welcomed another player to NRL first grade two weeks ago – Gold Coast’s Shane Gray.

The tournament kicks off on October 19 with the Philippines taking on Japan at Clark Airforce Base. After that, Japan plays Thailand on the 21st and the Philippines play Thailand in a rematch of last year’s historic match in Bangkok, on the 23rd.

The Filipino boys arrive in Manila three days before the comp starts and will spend time coaching naval cadets who have been learning the game under former South Sydney official Tom Simpson for the last 12 months.

It is possible to see both NSW Country games on tour in South Africa and still make it to Clark for the opening Asia Cup game. We checked.

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THE latest European Shield game has seen Russia visit Belgrade and come away with a win against the Serbians.

Russia will win the Sheild if they beat Italy at the end of the month. Prop Sergey Konstantinov was the star, scoring two tries before a broken arm ruled him out of the clash with the Italians.

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Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Number 26

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

ORIGIN may be upon us but there’s also a big game coming up next week in Hawaii with the United States to take on Samoa.

After months of planning, the fixture finally got the green light last week. The clash is being held on June 1 to mark Samoan independence day.

Aloha Stadium, located in central Ohahu and the largest outdoor arena in the islands, is the venue for the big game. It hosts the NFL pro bowl game each year.

Former Samoan rugby union player Keikiokalani Misipeka-Kelemete, now with the Tomahawks, told a Hawaiian website: “The game comes so naturally to us and the physicality of the game is something we feed and thrive off of.

“The game continues to grow in the US sports industry. The fans love to watch hard nose physical sports. I believe rugby provides that type of intensity the US fan base wants to see.”

Disappointingly, the NFL has decided to finance a rugby union competition in the US. It should have been us, I tell you!

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THE USARL Nines has been run and won, with Auckland Police taking the trophy for the third consecutive year.

Known as the “Fencibles”, the cops beat Philadelphia Fight 26 0 in the final. The Fight had an extra time win over Aussies the New England Echidnas, 16-12, to qualify for the decider.

Former NRL star Nathan Blacklock hobbled through the semifinal due to injury. A US under 23s side also took part in the Philadelphia tournament.

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THE EUROPEAN Shield is also off and running and at Makis Stadium in Belgrade, Serbia have proven too strong for Germany, winning 46-10.

The star for the Serbs was Dorcol lock Stefan Nedeljković, who scored a hat-trick. It was only 18-10 to the locals at halftime but superior fitness kicked in during the second.

Serb winger Radovan Tajsić ran 100 metres for one try, after a team-mate fielded a kick in his own in-goal.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine is now a full member for the RLEF.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Number 24

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD
ST George Illawarra’s Tyson Frizell is in for a heart-wrenching World Cup warm-up game with his Welsh side set to meet Tonga, for whom he is also eligible.
Far & Wide has been told the Charlie Tonga’s side is negotiating for a game in the principality the weekend before the World Cup kicks off on October 26.
Frizell previously toured the UK as a member of the 2009 Australian Schoolboys rugby union side. He joined the Dragons this year from St George Illawarra.
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OK, I know this is confusing but the American team taking on Samoa in Hawaii next month – on a date to be announced – now will be officially the national side.
But it will include only residents, as will the opposition. Officially, they the AMNRL is making it part of their World Cup build-up. A Test series against Canada will follow.
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GREAT to see rugby league stories popping up in the press in countries where we don’t normally see it.
The National in Dubai recently reported on the first day of domestic league fixtures at the start of the month. Reporter Paul Radley gushed about a delight. “Sausages on the barbecue, Kid Rock and Grandmaster Flash on the airways, free stash for each of the four participating teams, including dapper, specially designed playing shirts.”
The Whistler, Canada, the local paper “The Question” told readers about an upcoming Nines tournament. “Another rugby league first is hitting the Sea to Sky corridor, and it’s drawing teams from around B.C. as well as rugby hotbeds around the world,” said writer Eric McKenzie.
There’ve been plenty of false dawns but really good things seem to be happening right now.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK