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International View: Test footy returns to Wembley

Steven Birchall NRL.com Fri, Nov 04, 2011 - 2:02 PM

International Rugby League returns to Wembley for the first time since the 1997 Super League series Copyright: Action Photos

As we count down to International Rugby League's return to Wembley, International View takes a quick snapshot of all the activity happening around the globe.

World Cup Trial in Limerick

The logo for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup might suggest the official hosts are England and Wales, however don’t tell that to the Irish or French who are both vying for the chance to host at least one match during the tournament’s 14th staging.

After positive support from the fans in the cities of the two French applicants, Avignon (just under 17,000 against England) and Perpignan (more than 10,000 against Scotland), it’s now Ireland’s chance to shine, with the Wolfhounds hosting an international against France this Saturday at Thomond Park in Limerick.

With a less-than-ideal start to their international season so far, with losses away to Celtic nations Wales and Scotland, the Irish will be hoping to record their first win against the French Chanticleers.

In an attempt to boost their chances for the game, Paul Handforth, Kyle Amor and James Haley have all been recalled to the Wolfhounds’ outfit.

France, on the other hand, are using the fixture as a chance to blood a number of their local Elite 1 players to international football.

Ireland: Paddy Barcoe (Carlow RL), Elliott Cosgrove (Dewsbury Rams), Liam Finn, Joe Mulhern (both Featherstone Rovers), Bob Beswick, Paul Handforth, James Haley (all Halifax RLFC),  Greg McNally (Huddersfield Giants), Luke Ambler, Callum Casey (Leeds Rhinos), Joe Taylor (North Dublin Eagles), Paddy Boyle (Oxford RL), Tim Bergin, Pat Smith (both Sheffield Eagles), Ian Cross, Aaron McCloskey (both St Helens),  Ged Corcoran (Toulouse), Kyle Amor (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats), Tyrone McCarthy (Warrington Wolves), Sean Carmody (York City Knights).

France: Teddy Saddaoui (AS Carcassonne), Olivier Elima (Bradford Bulls),  Jean-Philippe Baile, Jason Baitieri, Thomas Bosc, Rémi Casty, Vincent Duport, Jamal Fakir, Cyrille Gossard, Eloi Pellissier, Mickaël Simon, Cyril Stacul, Frédéric Vaccari (Dragons Catalans), Kane Bentley (FC Lézignan), Dane Chisholm (Melbourne Storm), Julian Bousequet, Damien Cardace, Mathias Pala (St Estève-XIII Catalans), Olivier Arnaud (SO Avignon).

Return to Wembley
It’s been 14 years since international rugby league last graced Wembley Stadium in London, when the Australian Super League side took on Great Britain at the venue as part of their opening game of the tour.

Since then, the international game has taken the long road of rebuilding after enjoying massive crowds in both Australia and the United Kingdom in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

As a sign of progress from the dark period since, this weekend’s double-header looks set to break the 50,000 mark, which will make it the largest international crowd in the United Kingdom since the 1995 Rugby League World Cup final.

An impressive result – and a sign the international game is truly bouncing back.

Draws continue to haunt Lebanon
Poor old Lebanon unfortunately can’t catch a break when it comes to World Cup qualifiers of late.  Despite not losing any of their matches, the Lebanese failed to qualify for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup after Italy (who they drew 19-all with) beat them on points differential after racking up a massive score against Russia.

The same scenario again happened to the Lebanese back in 2007 in the 13th Rugby League World Cup qualifiers, when they drew with Ireland not once but twice (18-all and 16-all).

Again in those qualifiers, it was points differential that cost the Lebanese, with the Irish having more success against Russia than the Cedars.

Hopefully the poor Lebanese have more luck come the 2017 World Cup qualifiers.

PNG desperate to bounce back in Port Moresby
After a surprise 26-12 loss to Fiji last week in Mount Hagan, Adrian Lam’s Kumuls will be looking to bounce back when they play the Bati in the second and final Test match at Lloyd Robson Oval in the nation’s capital.

Going into the series as massive favourites, Lam decided only to select one NRL player for the Kumuls - Cronulla Sharks hooker Paul Aiton - instead using the opportunity to blood more locals in the lead up to the 2013 World Cup.

Unfortunately the move backfired, with the Bati NRL contingent including Sisa Waqa (Storm) and Kemueli Seru (Dragons) running riot in the second half in the PNG Highlands to secure victory.�

Countries aplenty
Whilst most of the media attention was on the main prize at the RLIF’s International Player of the Year awards (congratulations Billy Slater), the big story really is how wide rugby league has expanded even over the past decade, as shown by how many individual nation awards were given out.

In 2011, a record 26 nations ran proper domestic structures across the globe, with the big new entrants being Canada and Norway who both kicked off domestic competitions this year.

Matt Wyles (Canada), Tinirau Arona (Cook Islands), Jan Buben (Czech Republic), Wes Naiqama (Fiji), Rémi Casty (France),Thomas Isaak (Germany), Tim Bergin (Ireland), Matteo Rossi (Italy) , Tyronie Rowe(Jamaica), Keisuke Kinoshita (Japan), Clifford Debattista (Malta), Sonny Mellor (Norway), Walid Yassine (Lebanon), Eduard Ososkov (Russia), George Carmont (Samoa), Dale Ferguson (Scotland), Dalibor Vukanovic (Serbia), Deon Kraemer (South Africa), Alexander Rappestad (Sweden), Feleti Mateo (Tonga), Vladimir Mashkin (Ukraine), Apple Pope (USA), Lloyd White (Wales).

Next week’s fixtures:
Gillette Four Nations
5th November: Wales Dragons v New Zealand Kiwis – London, England
5th November: England v Australian Kangaroos – London, England

Other Internationals
5th November: Ireland Wolfhounds v France Chanticleers – Limerick, Ireland
6th November: PNG Kumuls v Fiji Bati – Port Moresby, PNG

Last week’s results:
Gillette Four Nations

28th October: Australia Kangaroos 26 defeated New Zealand Kiwis 12 – Warrington, England
29th October: England 42 defeated Wales Dragons 4 – Leigh, England

European World Cup Qualifiers
29th October: Serbia White Eagles 28 lost to Russia Bears 36 – Belgrade, Serbia
29th October: Italian Azzurri 19 drew with Lebanon Cedars 19 – Belgrade, Serbia

Other Internationals
29th October: France Chanticleers 46 defeated Scotland Bravehearts  10 – Perpignan, France
30th October: PNG Kumuls 12 lost to Fiji Bati 26 – Mount Hagan, PNG