WOLFPACK DE­BUT KICKS OFF HUGE YEAR

Rugby League Week - - Scoreboard - BY STEVE MASCORD

WEL­COME TO THE MOST EX­CIT­ING

sea­son for at least four years for any Far & Wide reader — a World Cup year!

But first, to the Toronto Wolfpack, who make their com­pet­i­tive de­but in Bri­tain’s Na­tional League One on March 4, hav­ing been hugely im­pres­sive in two pre-sea­son tri­als.

In De­cem­ber their tri­al­ists, drawn from North Amer­ica and the Caribbean, beat York­shire ama­teur club Brig­house Rangers on the bell. The search for tal­ent over the past six months was filmed by a pro­duc­tion crew called Last Tackle and will be hit­ting screens this year. Then in Jan­uary the con­tracted play­ers were un­for­tu­nate not to beat Chal­lenge Cup hold­ers Hull at their home of KC Sta­dium.

HOW­EVER, THE THING WE’RE

re­ally fo­cused on is the World Cup. The main tour­na­ment will be shown in Aus­tralia on Chan­nel Seven and is com­ing to­gether well, with spon­sors be­ing an­nounced all the time.

The side-tour­na­ments have had it a lit­tle rougher. Qual­i­fy­ing for the Women’s World Cup was, frankly, a bit of a joke. France were kicked out for no rea­son and — also for no ap­par­ent rea­son — Canada was in­cluded. Then we had a Pa­cific Qual­i­fy­ing Tour­na­ment that was so hastily ar­ranged that ev­ery coun­try bar the Cook Is­lands boy­cotted it. They didn’t have to play any­one to make the WC!

AN­OTHER BIG MILE­STONE

ahead of us this year is league fi­nally be­ing recog­nised by Sport Ac­cord, the um­brella body for in­ter­na­tional sports fed­er­a­tions and or­gan­is­ers of in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events.

This might be hard to be­lieve, but in most na­tions, league is not legally a sep­a­rate sport from union. This means peo­ple try­ing to start the game in a new place can le­git­i­mately be stood over by rugby union, with Sol Mok­dad’s 13 nights in a Dubai jail a par­tic­u­larly dis­grace­ful ex­am­ple.

League’s recog­ni­tion has been de­layed twice. We’re up again in April. @RLW­farand­wide, face­book.com/ RLW­farand­wide

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