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Chris the Human

Rugby!

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A lot of people (including rugby league fans) won't know this - but the 2008 Rugby League World Cup is scheduled to take place in Australia in 2008. After the somewhat abysmal failure of the sixteen team 2000 World Cup in England, the tournament is scheduled to return as a commemoration of the centenary of the game in Australia.

So far five teams have been given qualification due to their world ranking. These are Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, England, and France. The remaining five spots will be decided by a series of qualifiers, with the aim to produce a competitive World Cup to further re-establish the game on an international level following a fairly disastrous twenty years or so. Many people aren't aware that the rugby league world cup dates back to 1954, making it an old tournament as far as international sport goes.

Qualifying this far has begun in Europe, with the following outcomes in round one.

Russia 40 defeated The Netherlands 14

Georgia 45 defeated Serbia 10

Georgia 57 defeated The Netherlands 16

Russia 44 defeated Serbia 6

The Netherlands 38 defeated Serbia 26

Georgia vs. Russia was cancelled

Russia took part in the 2000 World Cup (in which they were spanked by all comers, including a 110-4 loss to Australia), whilst Georgia managed to draw a crowd of ten thousand and nationwide television coverage for their clash against the Netherlands.

Both Russia and Georgia will advance to the second round of European qualification, which looks like this.

GROUP A

Scotland

Georgia

Wales

GROUP B

Ireland

Lebanon

Russia

The two first nations will progress to the World Cup. In Group A it's a toss up between Scotland and Wales, whilst group two will be evenly contested by the Irish and the always unpredictable Lebanese side. They'll be a threat as long as Hazem El Masri remains in action.

The two runners up will enter a repecharge round.

Pacific Qualification will include Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. The top two will progress to the World Cup and the third placed side will enter the repecharge with the two European runners up and the Atlantic winner.

Atlantic qualifiers will feature Japan, South Africa, the United States, and the West Indies. This is a fairly open group - really. South Africa put in an abysmal performance in 2000, whilst the United States came close to beating Australia (albeit an underdone and lazy Aussie side) in 2004. The West Indies are newcomers to international rugby league, and the US have had little trouble with Japan in the past.

Ultimately I think the make up of the tournament will be something like.

Australia

New Zealand

England

Papua New Guinea

France

Wales

Ireland

Tonga

Samoa

Lebanon

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yeh lets go australia... thou australia will have a very interesting team as i dare say Lockyer wont be playing same with Petro and Mason

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Guest Anti-Hero

I want Malta in there, purely for the fact that many of my mates are Maltese and massive league fans.

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I want Malta in there, purely for the fact that many of my mates are Maltese and massive league fans.

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Guest Anti-Hero

I want Malta in there, purely for the fact that many of my mates are Maltese and massive league fans.

Unfortunately Malta, Greece, and Italy were all ruled ineligible to play a part in this World Cup. One of the requirements (to avoid the farcical sides of the previous World Cup) was that each nation attempting to qualify have its own domestic league and that it feature team members selected from said league. That will stop the likes of Lebanon from fielding an all Australian based team (as they did in 2000).

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I think I'd be content to see someone other than Australia win it. I'm Aussie through and through, but a Kiwi or English victory would at least shake off some of the 'only Australia can win it' stigma.

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Greece pulled out after leading their group, they are now concentrating on building a domestic league instead, which is class :)

Should be a good competition and cant wait for it, hopefully the game will expand naturally instead of forced like the 2000 WC.

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For those interested, Tonga & Samoa both won their opening clashes of Pacific qualifying. I haven't been able to find a score for Tonga's win over Cook Islands, but Samoa held on to beat Fiji 30-28 after St. George/Illawarra's Daryl Millard was dragged into touch to prevent a match-winner for Fiji.

Other NRL players involved include Andrew Emilio (Bulldogs), Wes Naiqama (Dragons), Hutch Maivia (Cronulla), and George Carmont (Newcastle). There were also a lot of Sydney based juniors from the Dogs and Roosters particularly.

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The second round of Pacific qualifiers were played out tonight, with Fiji taking on Tonga and Samoa clashing with the Cook Islands. By all accounts the opening clash was an absolute thriller, with St. George/Illawarra's Wes Naiqama scoring and converting a late try to give Fiji a shock 30-28 victory.

The next match was a one sided affair with Samoa remaining unbeaten after a 46-6 victory over an underdone Cook Islands side. With one round of competition to go, the table looks like this.

TEAM W L D For Against Difference Points

Samoa 2 0 0 76 34 +42 4

Tonga 1 1 0 84 44 +40 2

Fiji 1 1 0 58 58 +0 2

C. Islands 0 2 0 22 100 -88 0

Now, the top two teams qualify, so Samoa will secure a place in the World Cup with a victory or a draw against Tonga. They've been the form team of the competition so far, but could miss out if Tonga beat them and Fiji thrash Cook Islands as expected. The Fiji vs. Cook Islands match is coming up, and Fiji should be confident of a win. Tonga vs. Samoa will be played over in England later in the year, and it's really a 50/50 who wins there. I'm going to back Fiji to beat Cook Islands comfortably, and Tonga to end Samoa's unbeaten run. Tonga and Fiji to qualify, with Samoa to go into the repecharge against the 3rd and 4th placed European nations and the 1st placed Atlantic qualifier.

Edited by The Misanthrope

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Guest Anti-Hero

Spoiler: Australia will win it anyway. I really can't be arsed with the qualifiers, but I might go to the one at Penrith.

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Didn't the round of Penrith qualifiers just go by? I thought the results of the games I'd just posted came from Western Weekender Stadium in St. Mary's.

As for a winner, Australia will almost certainly go in as favourites, but winning it is another thing. New Zealand showed last year that the wheel is starting to turn, and the abysmal lineup we're fielding this year (irregardless of whether we win or not) shows we've got great backs coming through, moderate forwards, and ordinary halves.

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In the final Australian based Pacific qualifier, Fiji crushed Cook Islands 40-4 to ensure that the Islands won't feature in the 2008 World Cup. Fiji will now be hoping that Tonga can deal with Samoa, meaning that Tonga and Fiji would both qualify for the World Cup. Either way, one of the three will be in the repecharge along with the third and fourth best European teams as well as USA or Japan.

All qualifiers bar the repecharge begin at the end of this month.

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Ireland have opened the second round of European qualifiers with a dominant 50-12 victory over Russia, who qualified alongside Georgia (who have since been forced to withdraw) from the first round of European qualifiers.

Pacific qualification is now complete, with Tonga's 18-10 victory over Samoa meaning they've secured their place in the ten team 2008 tournament. The previously unbeaten Samoans slip to third in a tight Pacific qualification as a result, allowing Fiji to qualify. Samoa will now have to play in the repecharge tournament against the Atlantic winners and the third and fourth ranked European sides.

Current Qualifiers

1. Australia (hosts)

2. New Zealand (Automatic Qualifier)

3. England (Automatic Qualifiers)

4. Papua New Guinea (Automatic Qualifiers)

5. France (Automatic Qualifier)

6. Fiji (Pacific Qualifier)

7. Tonga (Pacific Qualifier)

8. European Qualifier A

9. European Qualifier B

10. Repecharge Qualifier

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I was disappointed that there weren't more teams included for qualification. There are about twenty more nations playing rugby league than involved in the qualification process. Morocco, Malta, Italy, Greece, South Africa, West Indies, Singapore.... but the tournament rules stated a nation had to have a domestic comp up and running to participate, which rules all of the above out for the time being. In 2012, maybe. :lol:

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Guest Anti-Hero

I'm really pumped for the Rugby World Cup now. Man, next year's going to be an interesting year for league (Titans [possibly with JONAH FREAKIN' LOMU], Souths with a few big buys, Jamie Lyon) and union (RWC, Schifcofske and Cross' defection from league)

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There have been a few more qualifiers played over the weekend. The United States qualified for the repecharge round alongside Samoa after a dominant 54-18 victory over the Japanese team. They'll be joined up by the runners up from both European groups.

In European qualification, Lebanon opened their account with a hard fought 22-8 victory over the Russians. This is a massive improvement for the Bears, who a few years ago would have struggled to stay close to the Cedars (who boast a number of NRL players). This came after Russia lost their opening game against Ireland, 50-12. With the Irish side being almost solely professional, the Russians were never going to qualify. Ireland play Lebanon on November 5th, with the winner likely to secure a place in the World Cup (although there's an away leg to go).

Wales and Scotland play today in their group (comprising just the two nations after Georgia's withdrawal). Wales will be lead by ESL star, Lee Briers - and should be too strong for the Scottish.

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It's not something I've seen mentioned alot on EWB, but I'm hoping there are some rugby league fans on here? Rugby is probably my second sport behind football, but snooker runs it close! I'm a Wigan fan myself, so obviously I'm very happy after last season's Super League win, and I'm very much looking forward to the World Club Challenge against St George/Illawarra in a few weeks.

But anyways the rugby season is upon us yet again, the Challenge Cup has already started, Round 2 matches are due to be played today. The highlight fixture has to be the RAF vs British Army at Aldershot this afternoon. :P The Northern Rail Cup starts today too, Toulouse v Dewsbury play this afternoon, and then a whole host of fixtures tomorrow including Batley v Leigh, London Skolars v Widnes and Whitehaven v Workington.

But the big one starts next weekend, the Super League is back and it is starting this year with a Millenium Magic weekend in Cardiff. Now me and my brother, and a few other people too are not fans of the Magic weekend concept. It seems pointless sending fans all around the UK, mainly Cariff and Edinburgh, to watch a round of fixtures, and doing it in February this year is beyond stupid. Who in there right mind would want to go all the way to Cardiff, and sit in a freezing stadium and watch 4 consecutive rugby matches? I'd much rather stay at home and watch all the games on Sky, and trust me I have been to both Cardiff and Edinburgh weekends and not enjoyed either.

It seems to me that it would be a better idea to do the Magic Weekend in the Summer, and have it at Old Trafford in the football off-season? This way all the teams and fans don't have to travel far (apart from Harlequins and Catalans), the weather will be warmer, it will be cheaper for the fans and it would generally be a better atmospheric event. Anyways that's my little rant over. So if any rugby league fans are on the board, come post in here throughout the season and we'll have some good banter.

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I personally find Union boring for the most part but have loved League since I was a kid.

Glad to see Wigan back on top in England, great club.

Australia is up to the pre-season stage and my Rabbitohs have the only pre-season game worth anything coming up next weekend. Hopefully George Burgess gets a run to add a bit of extra spice to this year's charity shield :)

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Full strength Ross ready to rumble

859837-ben-ross-rugby-league-sharks.jpg

Ben Ross recovering from neck surgery

After two long years out of the NRL, South Sydney prop Ben Ross says he is finally back to full strength heading into his comeback game against Newtown at Redfern on Saturday.

The former Queensland State of Origin front-rower hasn't been sighted on the field since suffering a serious neck injury playing for Cronulla in the opening round of the 2009 competition.

Though Ross signed with the Rabbitohs for 2010, he didn't make it back onto the field, but he never doubted he would eventually play again.

He will captain a youthful South Sydney side against NSW Cup outfit Newtown in the Return To Redfern fixture.

"I never lost sight of what I wanted to achieve and I've finally got that day after two years," Ross told AAP on Friday. "It's probably a bit longer than what I expected, but (I'm) back to full strength. It's been two long years and I just can't wait to get back out there and play again. We've got three trials ahead and I'll be trying to get as much time as I can in those to prove my worth to Langy (Souths coach John Lang)."

The Redfern fixture represents the Souths debut of big English forward George Burgess, the younger brother of Rabbitohs and England star Sam Burgess.

At 194cm and 120kg, 18-year-old George is Sam's little brother in age alone.

"He looks like he's the goods, he's only 18 and plenty of time ahead of him before he really has to hit his straps," Ross said.

With the younger Burgess and Ross swelling the Rabbitohs pack's ranks, the stand-in skipper acknowledged Souths had plenty of forward firepower in their arsenal this year.

"It's probably a good thing for us that we have got some depth," Ross said. "In the past we copped a fair few injuries, if that was to happen we know we've got a little bit more depth, a bit more back-up in case things do go wrong."

The Souths side named for Saturday includes a handful of players with first grade experience in backs Shaune Corrigan, Chris McQueen and Junior Vaivai.

Anthony Mundine's cousin Matt was named at five-eighth and former North Sydney back Greg Florimo's son Jay was selected on the bench.

Starting fullback Malcolm Webster is the cousin of Gold Coast star Preston Campbell and Greg Inglis, who moved to the Rabbitohs from Melbourne in December but is still on the injured list.

Ben Ross probably should have given up the game but full credit to the guy for getting to this point, :)

Souths win trial as Ross returns to action

2010GeorgeBurgessSignsDetail-3900c792-bfde-43cd-801b-0b6f03fadde6.jpg

George Burgess......not bad for an englishman

Ben Ross made a successful return to rugby league after almost two years and English player George Burgess endured a boiling initiation in South Sydney's 10-4 trial win over Newtown at Redfern Oval on Saturday.

Queensland Origin prop Ross, out of action for almost two years after suffering a broken neck playing for Cronulla in the opening round of the 2009 NRL competition, logged around 45 minutes in two separate stints.

Fellow prop Burgess, the 18-year-old younger brother of Souths and Great Britain forward Sam Burgess, got through around 55 minutes in two shifts in a match that started in hellish 41 degree heat.

Ross got into the action straight away, hitting the ball up from the kick-off.

"That was the plan. We aimed to get the kick-off and we knew they would kick to my side, who wouldn't?" Ross told reporters. "They said to me run at the first guy you see, don't worry about stepping, just run at the biggest guy and test it out. That's what I did. He put a massive shoulder on me and it was `welcome back', it was good. I was happy with all the time I got, it was enjoyable."

Ross gave Burgess a huge compliment, saying the Englishman's performance was "astonishing" for an 18-year-old.

Souths coach John Lang was just as pleased.

"The game did what we wanted it to do, get Benny (Ross) back in and gave young George (Burgess) his first run with the boys," he told reporters."I thought for his (Ross') first gallop, he did pretty well. It will take a while to get his timing, but I thought it was a good hit-out. It was a good step for George to get out and play with those boys, he's never played with any of them before, to play in those conditions, it was tough conditions for your first game."

Burgess, who came off in the final quarter after suffering cramp, couldn't recall ever playing in conditions hotter than 20 degrees.

"It was a big shock," Burgess told reporters.

It was a typical trial with numerous mistakes.

Souths dominated territorially and had two tries disallowed in the second quarter and bombed a number of others with poor execution.

Winger Chris McQueen, who was returning from two knee reconstructions, scored the Rabbitohs' first try, with replacement James Roberts getting their second to set up a 10-0 halftime lead.

Both teams made plenty of changes with Newtown scoring a try through back Sione Taka, notching a try for the NSW Cup side in the third quarter.

Nice to see George get some quality game time and great to see Benny Ross's first game back go so well :)

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State of Origin is awesome, even if I support the Blues :(

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