Friday, 21 September 2018

USA RL Modern History

The annual North South game. Pic:

The American National Rugby League (AMNRL) organised a rugby league competition in the United States from 1998 to 2013. The AMNRL was also involved with organising the United States national rugby league team, the Tomahawks. I would like to write about that annual domestic competition and may do so yet, but getting enough information would be a challenge. If anyone can help there, just send an email to

Throughout the life of the AMNRL, not a lot of progress took place. Distances are an issue and funding another. Then in 2011, a new body was set up to run another domestic competition, the USARL. It eventually prevailed and had an objective to take the game forward.

Has it achieved that goal? Partially but not as mush as it hoped for, you would think. Taking a sport beyond some enthusiastic individuals running some regional clubs to taking it further and further until it has national coverage and is getting increasing media attention is a huge step up.

In reality, the USARL is a slightly large version of its predecessor, but essentially it hasn't gone to another level. That's not a criticism, but a reality check. Today it takes money and astute backers to move a game forward. In addition, a pro team playing in the UK would be a great way to lift the profile of RL in the US.

I will run a series from 2011 forward each year as we look at what has happened in US RL since the start of the USARL.

Monday, 17 September 2018

NZ National Comp 2018 : Zone Results

The country is divided into zones that represents areas strong enough to part of the system. There are four main regions that compete at the Premiership level. Below them are three zones and the team that comes out on top of this group plays the fourth place elite zone team to see if it can progress to the top level.

The second tier zonal competition has been concluded. Let's see what teams are there and how they fared.

Northern Zone. Only two sides but both strong candidates to win the second tier for a crack at the top spot. The Northern Swords are from the top of NZ and have progressed well recently. They are paired with the Bay of Plenty Lakers, a region to the south and east of Auckland.

Progressed: Northern Swords.

Central Zone. Three teams competed. Wellington from the capital city, the Manawatu Mustangs around the Palmerston North area and Taranaki Sharks based in New Plymouth.

Progressed: Wellington Orcas.

Southern Zone. This encompasses the whole of the South Island and for the population it does well. The Tasman Titans covers the top of the Island, based in Nelson. The West Coast Charges are on that coast of the Island, around Greymouth.

The Aoraki Eels are from South and Mid Canterbury and North Otago, based in Timaru. Further south there is the Otago Whalers centred on Dunedin. The last side is the Southland Rams, the city of Invercargill being the major city from the region.

Progressed: Otago Whalers.

Below are the results. I will update the last games when completed.

Northern Zone

Round One

Bay of Plenty Lakers 30 Northern Swords 26

Round Two

Northern Swords 24 Bay of Plenty Lakers 18

Central Zone

Round One

Manawatu Mustangs 26 Wellington Orcas 26

Round Two

Taranaki Sharks 26 Manawatu Mustangs 30

Round Three

Wellington Orcas 50 Taranaki Sharks 22

Southern Zone

Round One

Southland Rams 22 Otago Whalers 26

Tasman Titans 16 West Coast Chargers 48

Round Two

West Coast Chargers 18 Southland Rams 24

Aoraki Eels 42 Tasman Titans 16

Round Three

Otago Whalers 22 West Coast Chargers 6

Aoraki Eels 24 Southland Rams 24

Round Four

Southland Rams 62 Tasman Titans 12

Otago Whalers 18 Aoraki Eels 16

Round Five

Tasman Titans 18 Otago Whalers 44

West Coast Chargers 29 Aoraki Eels 14

Final standings

Northern Zone Southern Zone

Northern Swords 2* Otago Whalers 8

Bay of Plenty Lakers 2 Southland Rams 5

Central Zone West Coast Chargers 4

Wellington Orcas 4 Aoraki Eels 3

Manawatu Mustangs 2 Tasman Titans 0

Taranaki Sharks 0 *Northern progressed


Round One

Northern Swords 16 Wellington Orcas 14

Round Two

Wellington Orcas Otago Whalers

Round Three

Otago Whalers Northern Swords

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Extraordinary General Meeting : RFL Council Sept 2018

This was called to sort out the structure of UK RL for SL, the Championship and League 1. UK RL changes its structures as often as the wind changes direction. Its good to be responsive but constant tinkering isn't ideal. There's a new TV deal in two years but that was too long to wait, apparently.

Why the haste? Because the present set up put four SL clubs at risk of being demoted each season and that was deemed too many. The fact that in the three previous years the existing system was in place only two teams were relegationed - and in 2018 it looks like only one SL team will drop - didn't assuage such fear.

The vote was strongly in favour of the proposal, with a 2 to 1 majority. Many clubs below SL were expected to go against the suggested change but surprisingly went with it. So what was decided?

Super League: The elite competition will remain at 12 teams to protect their current per club payout from TV money. This means that teams will have to play each other too often to give TV the necessary number of rounds agreed. After 29 rounds, a five team playoff will be held, replacing the current eight, then four situation.

The Qualifiers: The exciting playoff system for promotion / relegation between the top two divisions will be cut after this season. There will be a one up and one down scenario each year from 2019.

The Championship: This will increase to 14 teams (up from 12) for 2019. The extra numbers will come form League One below. The solitary promotion place to SL will be through a five team playoff system I believe, but I'm not absolutely sure on that.

League One: With more sides in the Championship, I assume the third division will drop from 14 to 12 sides. Two sides will change places between this and Championship above. Some of the detail I am missing and maybe changes will be organised now that the template is set.

Summary: I would have liked the status quo to have been maintained for another two years until the next media deal. If change had to come, 14 in SL was my wish to lessen the boredom of too many repeat fixtures. If Toronto are to enter SL, will they be self funding or be part of the SL pay system? If the former, that would free up some money to expand but that wasn't part of the consideration.

Now it's done, time to accept that all but one SL club went for this change to reduce jeopardy for them. The boringly small competition will have to suffice for at least two more seasons. For those following RL in the UK, the two lower divisions could be more interesting to follow, especially the Championship.