Farrell’s Forum: Womens’ rugby league beginning to gather pace

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In the words of former WWE Superstar Val Venis “Hello ladies!” As this week’s column, or the beginning of it at least, is for the fairer sex among you.

And in much the same way as Lord Kitchener “Wants You!” in the famous World War I poster, ladies of Scarborough, rugby league wants you too.

Nicola Paddock, one of Scarborough rugby league’s unsung heroes, who has a hand in most things 13-a-sided and oval ball-shaped in the town, is keen to launch a new ladies rugby league team in the area.

No doubt spurred on by the creation of Her RL – a new organisation established by Sky Sports presenter, Angela Powers, to celebrate and support the women who play, watch and work in rugby league – Nicola has already garnered a lot of interest from women in Scarborough who are keen to participate in rugby league.

No prior rugby experience is necessary, just an open mind, a sense of adventurer, and a have-a-go attitude are all you need.

Any ladies aged 16 and over who are interested in becoming involved in this excellent new venture should contact Nicola on 07975 871029.

A glance towards tomorrow evening’s International Origin Match between England and the Exiles now, the merits of which have been debated since the first such encounter took place in 2011.

The theory behind the match is that the England national team would benefit greatly from having a mid-season competitive game or two to help prepare them for the autumn fixtures against the Australians and Kiwis, or as is the case this year, the World Cup. The concept was even initially billed as a rival to Australia’s State of Origin, of which regular readers will know I’m a huge fan.

The reality of the Exiles match though is that it has failed to deliver on several counts. Despite a couple of close score-lines in the first two matches (2011 and game one in 2012) the quality of rugby league on display was not what one should expect from an international fixture involving England.

There is the argument that the time spent preparing for this fixture will be invaluable preparation time for the England squad before the World Cup, and it’s a good argument, except a plethora of Australian-based players who will no doubt be part of Steve McNamara’s squad come the World Cup are not involved due to their commitments in the NRL.

The like of Sam Burgess, James Graham and Gareth Widdop will play important roles in October and November, with George Burgess and Jack Reed also likely to figure.

With key players in Australia and the exhibition nature of the game it could have been an ideal chance for Steve McNamara to give opportunities to, and work closely with potential World Cup wildcards.

Players like Kieran Dixon, the young London Broncos’ winger, would’ve been an ideal candidate for Steve McNamara to cast a closer eye over.

While inexperienced and still relatively green as a rugby league player Dixon is the third highest try-scoring Englishman in Super League, despite playing for the competition’s bottom club, he is second only to Sam Tomkins and Josh Charnley, that’s no mean feat.

I like Steve McNamara as a player, a coach and a person, but when taking on the role of England’s head coach he vowed to pick players on form. His squad for tomorrow’s match doesn’t, in my opinion, represent all the form English players in Super League at this current time.

Tom Lineham and Ben Crooks at Hull FC are two young players who have been exceptional this season, as has Ben Cockayne at Wakefield. All, like Kieran Dixon, have been over looked.

Of course the biggest name omitted from Steve McNamara’s squad is that of Huddersfield Giants’ Danny Brough, who has since pledged his allegiance to Scotland.

Danny is a triple threat as a half-back and is something the Australians have not seen the likes of from an English half-back from quite some years now. He can unlock defences with a pass, take on the line himself with guile and pace, and has the most wicked kicking game I’ve ever witnessed first-hand – I still have nightmares about trying to catch his spiral bombs at training many years ago.

His absence from the England side is a bitter blow for England’s World Cup ambitions, and while they would never admit it, the Australians will sleep just a little bit sounder in their beds at night knowing that Brough will not be pulling on an England jersey this autumn.