Rugby League Planet

By Matthew Brown, Date: 8/7/14

After focusing on the America’s and Africa last blog, it’s now time to turn our attention to the rest of the Rugby League world, Europe, Asia and Oceania. But first a roundup of the most recent Commonwealth Games tournament from Glasgow.

Commonwealth U/19s Tournament

This was a bench mark in Rugby League history, although Rugby League 9s tournaments and age group type tournaments have been played, it has never been to this magnitude! On the 28th and 29th of June, Glasgow held the first ever inaugural Commonwealth Rugby League 9s. This was the first major tournament for Rugby League since its inception as a Category 3 sport by the Commonwealth Games Committee in 2011. Eight teams participated which included PNG, Australia, England, Wales, Scotland, South Africa, Canada and Jamaica.

The eventual winners of the tournament were Papua New Guinea who defeated powerhouses Australia 22 to 8. Wales defeated Canada 20-4 to gain the Bronze medal. Throughout the tournament there were many surprising performances such as Scotland’s 18 all draw with Australia and Canada defeating England 24 to 4. Overall the tournament was hailed as a great success and there are hopes to create future tournaments at forthcoming Commonwealth Games. The hope is that the Gold Coast could be an excellent chance to give Rugby League 9s a go because of it being in Rugby League heartland.

There have been numerous results in Europe these last few weeks. Italy defeated Ukraine 52 to 12 in Gemona (Italy), Greece defeated Malta 32 to 18 in Malta and Belgium defeated the Netherlands 32 to 16 in Brussels. Spain, the new kids on the block defeated Belgium twice, once in Belgium (12-10) and in Valencia, Spain (54-10). In Oslo, Denmark defeated Norway 16-10.

The big news this week however is the sport of Rugby League being banned in Russia. The governing body for Rugby League in Russia claims that the sport is banned because the Ministry of Sport in Russia believed it did not have proper security and medical practices for events (Rugby League) organised. The Rugby League European Federation came out and said that although it was excluded, the sport does indeed cooperated to the standards of Medical and Security practices of Russian Sports Laws and would keep fighting to have Rugby League approved as a sport by the Russian government.

This is not the first time Rugby League in Russia has had difficulty in gaining official recognition in its homeland. In 2010, several Russian financial backers broke ties with Rugby League and sided with Rugby Union because it was introduced into the Olympic Games. Since then the Russian Rugby League has been fighting for the sport to be played and gain official acknowledgement that it is a sport in its own right. These pleas however have landed on deaf ears as the Sports Ministry still refuses to recognise Rugby League as an individual sport and still refuse to give financial assistance to the game.

It will be an interesting few months for the Russians because they still have European and domestic fixtures to play.

On a different note there has been numerous news coming out of Asia;

For those who aren’t sure there are actually two governing bodies in Thailand at the moment. The official body (Thailand Rugby League) and the opposing body of the Thailand Stars Rugby League.

The endorsed body from the RLIF (Thai RL) have announced a 4 team domestic competition in October to December in Pattaya and Bangkok with two more teams to join the competition in 2015. They also look to have an international against the Norwegians in October in Bangkok. The Greeks visited Thailand last year and defeated the (Thailand Rugby League) National team 90-0. It will be interesting to see what will happen this time around!

The Thai Stars however have been somewhat quiet since their game against the Latin Heat (Team representing Latin America) in June in Windsor, NSW. Apart from their fixtures against the Philippines (in Thailand and Philippines) we have not heard much news about their domestic ambitions. One source claimed that they are mainly Sydney based while the ‘official’ body is based in Thailand itself.

The Philippines seem to have a busy year. They play against the Niue and Thailand Stars U/23 teams in Wentworthville, Sydney and then play an international against Vanuatu in Vanuatu. The Vanuatu national team have hosted the Greeks and Niueans before in front of thousands of fans. It will be interesting how the Philippines will go in all three international matches.

At times it is hard to find information from the Japanese because we only really hear noise from them when the Cabramatta 9s are on. It seems that 3 rounds have been played in their domestic season between the Tokyo 13 Warriors and Shinjuku Giants. The results have included;
Round 1- Tokyo 13 Warriors defeated Shinjuku Giants 64 – 28.
Round 2- Shinjuku Giants won 60-44 against Tokyo 13 warriors
Round 3- Shinjuku Giants beat Tokyo 13 Warriors by 52 – 16.
They also had a 9s tournament featuring 4 teams;
1st Place- PSI Costcuts.
2nd place:Tokyo 9 Warriors 
3rd place:Storug Nagoya Bulls 
4th place:Shinjuku Giants.

Japan is unsure if they will play in any other international matches for 2014.

There are plans for Fiji to join the NSW Cup in either 2015 or 2016. Rugby League in Fiji has been on the rise since 2008 when they made the semi-finals of the world cup in Australia. Since then Rugby League has been growing and juniors and the domestic competition has been growing each year. It is hoped that a complete domestic team (similar to the PNG Hunters in the QLD Cup) could compete in the NSW Cup in the next season or two.

Fiji also are planning on hosting an Australian Indigenous side later in the year plus two unconfirmed international matches.

Papua New Guinea
Things are starting to look up for PNG Rugby League. The national governing body has started a program called Team Kumul which is aiming to make PNG a formidable force in the 2017 world cup. They have done this by creating a pathway for their juniors such as U/16 and 18 Kumuls to tour Australia and help improve the schoolboy/domestic competitions in the country.

With their recent victory in the Commonwealth Games plus the PNG Kumuls performing admirably in the Queensland Cup, plus a new 20 k National Stadium for the 2015 Pacific Games there’s no denying that Rugby league is well and truly on the up in PNG!

Cook Islands
They may only have a population of 20 thousand people, but Rugby League is going to have a busy year in the Cook Islands. They are getting visits from not only Australian and New Zealand Cook Islander teams, but are also expecting the Australian Affiliated States and New Zealand North Island select team later in the year.