New Zealand national rugby league team
The New Zealand national rugby league team has represented New Zealand in rugby league since 1907. Administered by the New Zealand Rugby League, they are known as the Kiwis, after the native bird of that name; the team's colour's are majority black with white and the players perform a haka before every match they play as a challenge to their opponents. The New Zealand Kiwis are second in the RLIF World Rankings. Since the 1980s, most New Zealand representatives have been based overseas, in the professional National Rugby League and Super League competitions. Before that players were selected from clubs in domestic New Zealand leagues. A New Zealand side first played in a 1907 professional rugby tour which pre-dated the birth of rugby league football in the Southern Hemisphere, making it the second oldest national side after England. Since the Kiwis have competed in international competition, touring Europe and Australia throughout the 20th century. New Zealand have competed in every Rugby League World Cup since the first in 1954, reaching three consecutive tournament finals between 2000–2013.
In 2008, New Zealand won the World Cup for the first time. They contest the Baskerville Shield against England. Rugby football was introduced into New Zealand by Charles John Monro, son of the speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives, Sir David Monro, he had been sent to Christ's College, East Finchley in north London, where he became an enthusiastic convert to the new code. He brought the game back to his native Nelson, arranged the first rugby match between Nelson College and Nelson Football Club, played on 14 May 1870; when New Zealand's national rugby team toured Britain in 1905 they witnessed the growing popularity of the breakaway non-amateur Northern Union's games. On his return in 1906, All Black George William Smith met the Australian entrepreneur J J Giltinan to discuss the potential of professional rugby in Australasia; the first New Zealand team to play professional rugby was known as the All Blacks. To avoid confusion, the terms professional. In the meantime, a lesser known New Zealand rugby player, Albert Henry Baskerville was ready to recruit a group of players for a Great Britain pro tour.
It is believed that Baskerville became aware of the profits to be made from such a venture while he was working at the Wellington Post Office in 1906. A colleague dropped a British newspaper. Baskerville picked it up and noticed a report about a Northern Union match that over 40,000 people had attended. Baskerville wrote to the NRFU asking; the 1905 All Blacks tour was still fresh in English minds, thus the NU saw the upcoming competitive New Zealand tour as exceptional opportunity to raise the profile and finances of the NU game. The NU agreed to the tour provided that some of those original All Blacks were included in the New Zealand team. George Smith arrived back in New Zealand and after learning of Baskerville's plans, the two teamed up and began signing players; the New Zealand Rugby Union became aware of the tour and promptly applied pressure to any All Black or New Zealand representative player it suspected of involvement. They had the New Zealand Government's Agent General in London deliver a statement to the British press in an effort to undermine the tour's credibility.
This had little effect and by that time the professional All Blacks were sailing across the Tasman to give Australia its first taste of professional rugby. It was during this time that references to the professional All Blacks as the All Golds first appeared. "All Golds" was a play on the amateur "All Blacks" name but it was an insult to the players, criticising the arrangement where they would each share in the wealth of the tour. The name "All Golds" is now thought to have originated in a New Zealand newspaper in May/June 1907, amidst editorial arguments over whether it was honourable for the proposed "professional All Blacks" team to be paid; the first documented use in Australia was in a headline in the Sydney Morning Herald, just before Baskerville's team arrived. Those same Herald articles had a tag for those who supported the amateur rugby union calling them the "Lily Whites"; the All Golds name is now carried by the Gloucestershire All Golds a Semi-professional team who are based in Gloucestershire and compete in the RFL League 1 Championship 1 and known as Kingstone Press League 1 for sponsorship reasons, is a professional rugby league competition based in England.
They take part in the annual Challenge Cup and League 1 Cup. The Club bears the name in honor of the 3rd test match played at the clubs home ground in Cheltenham. Professional rugby in the southern hemisphere kicked off with the professional All Blacks playing a professional rebel New South Wales team organised by Smith's contact, James Giltinan; the games drew little interest to start with, but were a major success for the rugby rebels of Australia, as they had the money to start the first professional Rugby Football League and hence change the face of rugby in Australia. New Zealand made it to Great Britain in 1907, they included Australian Dally Messenger in their party. He played in the two Tests which the All Golds won. At this time professional rugby, under the banner of the Northern Union, was not played by the RFU rules, all the All Golds knew; the All Golds took on a week of intensive training. From a New Zealander's point of view, the tour may not have been successful, but to
Samoa national rugby league team
The Samoa national rugby league team represents Samoa in rugby league football and has been participating in international competition since 1986. Known as Western Samoa prior to 1997, the team is administered by Rugby League Samoa and are nicknamed Toa Samoa. Western Samoa has particip in the Pacific Cup, World Sevens, Super League World Nines, World Cup and Pacific Rim competitions. Since 1998 the team has been known as Samoa. Western Samoa made their debut in the 1986 Pacific Cup. Joe Raymond coached this side to a final. Joe Raymond went on to coach them again in 1988 and would return again to coach them 10 years in 1998 in a one off game against a Samoan team of Samoan resident players at Carlaw park. Suani and Lyndsay Stowers operated Samoa Rugby League out of their North Shore home in Auckland and from the Richmond Rugby League Club house where Lyndsay ran the canteen; this resilient couple were known to have put a mortgage on their home to assist with funding the thirty men representing Samoa in the Pacific Cup held in Tonga, 1990.
This commitment lead to a historical win over the Maori team for the first time and won the 1990 Pacific Cup. Coached by the Richmond Bulldogs Head Coach, Steve Kaiser, the Western Samoan team put Samoan rugby league on the map. Samoa won the 1992 Pacific Cup over Tonga in an action filled thriller that went into two overtimes and sent the NZ Rugby League and Polynesian rugby league public into a frenzy; the 1992 Tournament showcased all of NZ Rugby league talent and Australian Rugby league scouts were booked to witness the 1994 Pacific Cup held in Fiji. In 1993 Western Samoa were invited to the International Coca-Cola Sevens in Sydney. With Auckland based Samoan players such as Mark Elia, Tony Tuimavave, Tony Tatupu, Faausu Afoa and Des Maea followed by a group of up and coming players such as Matthew TuiSamoa, Lionel Perera, Aleki Maea, Paki Tuimavave, Joe Vagana, Sefo Fuimaono and Peter Lima, the team beat the Canberra Raiders and the Great Britain International team. Coached by the Richmond Bulldogs' Head Coach Steve Kaiser, this team gave Samoa the status to create the strong foundation Western Samoa Rugby League needed to move forward.
Below this strong foundation however was the strength and commitment of two people: Suani and Lyndsay Stowers. These two held together the concept of Samoa Rugby League and without their dream, Samoa RL will not be where it is today. Steve Kaiser in his sixth year as the Samoan Coach had an array of NZ based quality players for the 1994 Pacific Cup with the likes of Se'e Solomona, Tony Tatupu, the Tuimavave brothers Paki and Tony plus the loyal players of Mike Setefano, Matthew TuiSamoa, Alex Tupou and Mark Faumuina. Henry Suluvale and Rudy David led the contingent of first class players from Canterbury however this arsenal were well contained by the Tongan stars Jim Dymmic, John Hopoate and Albert Fulivae; the 1995 Samoan team had the benefit of ex-All Blacks John Schuster and Va'aiga Tuigamala in their backline. When rugby union went professional players such as Apollo Perelini and Fereti Tuilagi left rugby league to return to the 15-man game. Samoa lost the Pacific Cup in 1996; the 1998 Pacific Cup team saw a old talent.
Joe Raymond, one of the first Samoan Rugby League Rep coaches returned after coaching Tonga and the NZ Maori, the late Eddie Poching managed the team and the introduction of Francis Meli to Samoan Rugby League and Junior Papalii a loyal American Samoan Representative. Pati Tuimavave from the 1992 squad and Matthew TuiSamoa, the only survivor from 1990 Pacific Cup champion team returned. Samoa battled Tonga for the 1998 Pacific Cup again at Carlaw park and again Samoa regained the Pacific Champions Title; the Pacific Cup was taken to Australia's Gold Coast in 2000 where Auckland coach John Ackland took over the reins. Ackland added another dimension to Samoa Rugby League and introduced rising stars, Wayne McDade and Itikeri Sapau-Citran, Tino Brown, Johnny Baker, Louie Talamavoa and bought Matthew TuiSamoa back into the Pacific Cup arena. Samoa took on Ireland and the Aotearoa Māori in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup pool stages, they would lose to'the Irish' in their opening game, but they'd beat NZ Maori, Scotland in their next two games, sealing a place in the knock-out stages.
They would take on Australia in the quarter-final. They ended their tournament with a thrashing 66-10 defeat, sealing an end to a respectable World Cup Campaign. Samoa played in the Pacific Pool of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers, they lost to Tonga. On a points difference, Samoa had to play USA in the Repecharge Semi Final. Samoa won this match 42-10 and played Lebanon on 14 November 2007 in the Repecharge Final to see who would take the 10th and final World Cup place. Samoa came out eventual winners of the 10th and final 2008 Rugby League World Cup place beating Lebanon 38-16 at the Chris Moyles Stadium, Featherstone. For the 2008 Rugby League World Cup tournament Samoa's main jersey sponsor was the Samoa International Finance Authority. Samoa took on Ireland in the Tournament's pool stages, they beat their pacific rivals in a traditional tight pacific match-up, but they lost to'the Irish' by 34-16. This big losing margin, sent the Samoans into battle against the French in the Tournament's 9th place play-off.
Samoa won, winning 42-10 and capping off an undesirable World Cup Tournament. In April 2013, Samoa took on Tonga in the'2013 Pacific Rugby League Test' at Penrith Stadium; the International was created as a World Cup warm-up match. Tonga targeted Samoa's weak defence, it
North Queensland Cowboys
The North Queensland Cowboys are an Australian professional rugby league football club based in Townsville, the largest city in North Queensland. They compete in the National Rugby League premiership. Since their foundation in 1995, the club has appeared in three grand finals winning in 2015, has reached the finals ten times; the team's management headquarters and home ground, the Willows Sports Complex known as 1300SMILES Stadium due to sponsorship rights, are located in the Townsville suburb of Kirwan. The Cowboys were admitted to the premiership for the 1995 ARL season, they played in the breakaway Super League competition in 1997 before continuing to compete in the re-unified National Rugby League competition the following year. After running into financial trouble in 2001, the club was taken over by News Limited. In 2007, the team was sold by News Limited to the Cowboys Leagues Club. In 2015, the Cowboys played in the first all-Queensland grand final, defeating the Brisbane Broncos 17-16 in golden point to win their first premiership.
With the success of the Broncos in 1988, speculation intensified as to if the NSWRL would admit a new team based in North Queensland. In 1993, the NSWRL announced that North Queensland would enter the competition in 1995, along with three other new sides. One of the major difficulties that faced the club in their early years was attracting followers from the more established Queensland-based Winfield Cup side, the Brisbane Broncos; this was exacerbated by an initial lack of onfield stability. In their first two seasons, the Cowboys had eight different captains and finished last in their inaugural season. After much court action in 1995 and 1996, a ten team Super League competition was held in 1997; the Cowboys competed in this competition, their squad was bolstered by a number of new signings including Ian Roberts and Steve Walters. However, they were unable to improve on the club's results in previous years, for the second time in three seasons they were to finish the season in last place; the Cowboys first game of the Super League season, a 24–16 win over new team the Adelaide Rams played on 1 March at Stockland Stadium in front of 17,738 fans was the first game of the Super League's competition.
In 1998 the Super League and Australian Rugby League competitions merged to form the National Rugby League. The Cowboys began their first season in this competition and after six rounds they were in equal first place. Although they fell away in the season, they were to record the largest come-back to date in an Australian first grade rugby league match, defeating the Penrith Panthers 36–28 after trailing 26–0 at half-time. 1998 saw the Cowboys record their largest loss to date, being defeated 62–0 by the North Sydney Bears in the last round of the home and away season. The Cowboys signed their eleventh captain in Noel Goldthorpe. Paul Bowman was to serve in that role during the season. Although their on-field performances were not spectacular, continuing high attendance figures saw aggregate attendances exceed one million spectators; this season the Cowboys provided their first State of Origin representative when Paul Green was selected as Queensland's halfback for game 2 of the 1999 State of Origin series.
In the years 2000 through to 2002 the Cowboys continued to struggle with off-field dramas and poor on-field performances. After finishing last in 2000, season 2001 began Tim Sheens]] resigned on the 25th of May and was replaced by his assistant Murray Hurst. 4 straight losses in the opening rounds of 2002 led to Hurst being replaced early in the 2002 season, by former Illawarra Steelers and Leeds Rhinos coachGraham Murray. Murray stamped his authority and coaching prowess on the club and the NQ Cowboys looked far more competitive towards the end of the 2002 season; the Cowboys spent much of the 2003 season in the top eight with much improved performances from a host of players, including local talents Matt Bowen and Josh Hannay. The 2003 season ended with the Cowboys four points adrift of a top eight play-off position. After a slow start to the season that saw them at 13th on the ladder with just one win and five losses, the Cowboys turned it around in the second half of the season to finish with 12 wins and 11 loses and 7th spot, giving the club their first top eight appearance.
The Cowboys fairytale year continued when they upset the 2nd place Bulldogs away from home in the first week of the finals, 30–22, thanks to hat-trick hero Matt Sing. The following week the Cowboys defeated their state rivals the Brisbane Broncos at home, 10–0, in the club's most famous victory, they ended up falling one game short of the grand final, losing to the Sydney Roosters, 19–16. The Cowboys would go one better in 2005. With the help of new recruits Carl Webb and Johnathan Thurston, the side finished in 5th spot and with back-to-back finals appearances, they would lose the grand final to the Wests Tigers. In his first year with the club, Johnathan Thurston won the Dally M Medal and made his State of Origin debut for Queensland. In 2006, the Cowboys started the year with a 6-game winning streak and looked destined for another finals appearance, before ending the season with just 5 wins from 19 games and finishing in 9th position; the 2007 season saw their first top 4 finish. They faced the Bulldogs in Townsville in week 1 of the finals.
The following week, they defeated the Warriors at home by 37 points. They fell one game short of the grand final again, this time losing t
2007 All Golds Tour
The 2007 All Golds Tour was a tour by the New Zealand national rugby league team, the Kiwis, of Great Britain and France. Conducted as part of the celebrations of a century of rugby league in New Zealand, it was a re-creation of the original New Zealand rugby league tour of Great Britain in 1907; the Kiwis played four test matches, winning one against France, but losing the series against Great Britain 3-0, failing to win the Baskerville Shield. A special game was played between the "All Golds" and the "Northern Union" which featured many players coming out of international retirement for the game; the tour involved a reception with the Queen at Buckingham Palace for the squad. In 1905 New Zealand's rugby union team toured Great Britain and witnessed the growing popularity of the professional Northern Union rugby code. With this popularity in mind, sensing a financial opportunity, Albert Henry Baskerville recruited a group of players for a professional tour, wrote to the Northern Rugby Football Union asking if they were willing to host a New Zealand touring party.
This team toured Australia and Great Britain in 1907, was known colloquially as the All Golds, or Professional All Blacks. Coach: Gary Kemble*Also played in All Golds match. To celebrate the inclusion of Australia's Dally Messenger in the original All Golds tour, New Zealand Warriors captain and Queensland front rower Steve Price was invited to join the New Zealand team for the match against the Northern Union; the Australian test prop said. Andrew Johns had been invited, but due to a career-ending neck injury, he was unable to play with the squad. Australian captain Darren Lockyer was set to take Johns' place until he too was ruled out after suffering a season-ending knee injury. Trent Barrett was linked with the stand-off role in the side; the NZRL expressed interest in including retired New Zealand rugby league stars Nigel Vagana, Ruben Wiki, Stacey Jones in test matches. All three came out of international retirement to play in the match against the Northern Union. Several current and former All Blacks were considered for the match against the Northern Union.
Players who grew up playing rugby league such as Carlos Spencer, Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu were approached by the NZRL however none were available due to rugby union commitments. Jonah Lomu was considered but was ruled out due to media and personal appearance commitments at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Brisbane Broncos' Australian coach Wayne Bennett accepted the invitation from the New Zealand Rugby League to join the All Golds for their commemorative match against the Northern Union in England in October; the former Queensland and Australia coach stated "This is a great honour and it's unique in the game." There was New Zealand in Wellington. This was an exhibition match played under 1907 scoring rules with tries worth 3 points and goals / field goals worth 2 points each. Steve Price was the Australian guest player emulating Dally Messenger's role with the original All Golds. 19 year old Bradford forward Sam Burgess was awarded the Man of the Match and his performance saw his inclusion in the Great Britain squad for the upcoming Baskerville Shield series against the Kiwis.
Stacey Jones in his last international match kicked 5 goals from 5 attempts. The New Zealand side played a total of five matches while on their European tour and one test in New Zealand before leaving; the three Baskerville Shield tests took place at the following venues. Great Britain's scrum half back, Rob Burrow was awarded the George Smith Medal as player of the series which he finished as top points scorer with 26 from two tries and nine goals. Coach Gary Kemble was fired after the tour losses, with Roy Asotasi and David Kidwell leading a public campaign to replace him. Kemble was replaced by Stephen Kearney as head coach and Wayne Bennett assistant coach, a combination which took the Kiwis to win the 2008 World Cup; the All Golds played another match, against the New Zealand Māori in New Plymouth, in 2008 as part of the lead up to the Rugby League World Cup. New Zealand Rugby League Rugby league in New Zealand "NZ League To Take Hard Line With NRL", xtraMSN website, retrieved 27 July 2006.
"States the wish for Wiki and Jones to play in the Tour, retrieved 20 May 2007
Headingley Stadium in Headingley, West Yorkshire, England, is the home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Rhinos rugby league and Yorkshire Carnegie rugby union clubs. There are two separate grounds, Headingley Cricket Ground and Headingley Rugby Stadium, with a two-sided stand housing common facilities. Owned by the Leeds Cricket and Athletic Company, the ground is now managed jointly by Yorkshire C. C. C. and Leeds Rugby. From 2006 until 2017, the stadium was known as the Headingley Carnegie Stadium as a result of sponsorship from Leeds Metropolitan University, whose sports faculty is known as the Carnegie School of Sport Exercise and Physical Education. Since 1 November 2017, the stadium is known as the Emerald Headingley Stadium due to the purchase of the naming rights by Emerald Group Publishing. In December 2005, Yorkshire County Cricket Club obtained a loan of £9 million from Leeds City Council towards the cost of purchasing the cricket ground for £12 million. Shortly afterwards, 98.37% of members who participated in a vote backed the deal.
On 11 January 2006, the club announced plans to rebuild the stand next to the rugby ground with 3,000 extra seats, taking capacity to 20,000. The club announced plans to redevelop the Winter Shed stand on 25 August 2006 providing a £12.5 million pavilion complex. The cricket ground sits to the Northern side of the complex, it opened in 1891 and has been used for Test matches since 1899. It is the main home ground of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Yorkshire Vikings Twenty20 cricket team; the ground last held The Ashes in 2009. Since 2015 the cricket ground has been floodlit; the ground has a seated capacity of 17,500, executive facilities and a new media centre opened in 2010. All but the stand at the football ground end have been rebuilt since 2000, it is proposed to replace this stand in conjunction with redeveloping its other side facing the rugby ground; the rugby ground sits to the Southern side of the complex. A rugby league ground it now hosts both codes, it is home to Yorkshire Carnegie rugby union club.
The ground consists of three stands and an open terrace at one end, one stand is seated, two mixed. It has a capacity of 21,000. Yorkshire County Cricket Club have shown keen interest in redeveloping the northern side of the ground; this is a major inconvenience to Leeds Rugby Limited as they wish to redevelop their North Stand, which backs onto the Cricket Ground, any redevelopment of this stand cannot go ahead until Yorkshire Cricket are willing to redevelop their side of the cricket pitch. If Headingley is to retain Test Ground Status it is that further improvements will need to be made to the ground. On 5 June 2014 Yorkshire CCC announced the "Headingley Masterplan"; the phased redevelopment costing around £50 million will take place over the next 20 years. Phase One Erection of four permanent floodlight pylons; the floodlights, which have light arrays in the shape of the Yorkshire Rose, were installed in 2015. The first full game to be played under them was the T20 match against Derbyshire Falcons on Friday 15 May 2015, but they were called upon for the County Championship game against Warwickshire a few weeks earlier.
Phase Two The rebuild of the Football Ground End, in conjunction with Leeds Rugby, to incorporate a three-tiered seating area, which will accommodate 5,060 seats, enhanced corporate facilities and new permanent concession units. Phase Three To incorporate an additional 915 seats to the upper tier of the North East Stand with the possibility of a cantilever roof from the side of the Carnegie Pavilion to the existing scoreboard. Phase Four The development of a new Pavilion located in the North West area of the stadium complex. Built on five levels, the Pavilion will be adjacent to the existing Carnegie Pavilion. To include state-of-the-art corporate facilities, new dressing rooms for the players and coaching staff, Members’ Long Room and seating and the creation of a main entrance to the stadium on Kirkstall Lane. Phase Five The erection of a translucent cantilever roof to cover the White Rose Stand on the western side of the ground. Phase Six Landscaping on the White Rose Stand and North East stand concourses.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Metropolitan University have collaborated in building the Headingley Carnegie Pavilion, which replaced'The Shed' to the northern side of the Cricket Ground. The new pavilion replaces'The Winter Shed' and'The Media Centre' at the Kirkstall Lane end of the ground, which had become obsolete, according to Yorkshire County Cricket Club, no longer meeting the requirements of modern broadcasting; the changing facilities are replaced by'state of the art' changing facilities, designed for cricket, while the new executive boxes will provide the expected level of service. Yorkshire County Cricket Clubs offices will be relocated into the pavilion, which boasts environmentally friendly features such as a ground source heat pump and solar hot water heating; the rugby ground has been rebuilt since 2006, when the Carnegie Stand at the east end was opened containing both standing and seated areas, private boxes and catering. In 2017 both the North and South Stands were torn down following Leeds' last home game of the season: the new South Stand will be a two-tier structure similar to the Carnegie Stand with an expanded terrace, while the North Stand's replacement will feature additional executive boxes and state-of-the-art facilities for players and media, as well as thousands of new seats for the cricket ground.
List of cricket grounds in England and Wales List of Test cricket grounds List of international cricket centuries
National Rugby League
The National Rugby League is a league of professional men's rugby league teams in Australia. Run by the Australian Rugby League Commission, the NRL's main competition is known as the Telstra Premiership due to sponsorship from Telstra Corporation and is contested by sixteen teams, fifteen of which are based in Australia with one based in New Zealand, it attended rugby league club competition in the world. The National Rugby League is Australia's top-level domestic men's rugby-league club competition, it contains clubs from the original Sydney club Rugby League competition, running continuously since 1908. The NRL formed in the aftermath of the 1990s' Super League war as a joint partnership between the Australian governing body, the Australian Rugby League and media giant News Corporation-controlled Super League, after both organisations ran premierships parallel to each other in 1997; this partnership was dissolved in February 2012, with control of the NRL going to the independently formed Australian Rugby League Commission.
NRL matches are played in New Zealand from March to October. The season culminates in the premiership-deciding game, the NRL Grand Final, traditionally one of Australia's most popular sporting events and one of the world's largest attended sporting championship games. In addition, the NRL premiers play in the World Club Challenge, a pre-season match against the champions of the Super League competition; the reigning premiers are the Sydney Roosters winning their fourteenth official premiership. The New South Wales Rugby League ran the major rugby league competition of New South Wales from its inception in 1908 until 1994. Following the introduction of a new format for interstate rugby league, the State of Origin series in 1980, the decade of the 1980s brought about expansion of the NSWRL premiership, with the introduction of commercial sponsorship, the Winfield Cup, the addition of non-Sydney-based teams and Illawarra in 1982. Although this move brought more interest in the competition statewide in New South Wales, it would spell the beginning of the demise of some of the traditional Sydney-based clubs as well as having a negative effect on the Brisbane Rugby League premiership.
Following the 1983 season, Sydney foundation club Newtown Jets were forced to withdraw from the competition because of financial difficulties. Further expansion of the league followed in 1988, with another three teams based outside Sydney introduced to the competition; the Brisbane and Newcastle sides proved to be successful and popular and paved the way towards a push for a national competition. This was attempted in 1995 with control of the premiership passing from the NSWRFL to the Australian Rugby League, who invited four more teams from outside NSW to participate in 1995; this competition failed, but in its demise the National Rugby League was born, incorporating the traditional Sydney clubs coercing the Sydney market to follow the newly created national competition. The prospect of a national rugby league competition in addition to the introduction of pay television in Australia attracted the attention of global media organisation, News Corporation, it followed that professional rugby league was shaken to its foundations in the mid-1990s with the advent of the Super League war.
A conflict over broadcasting rights, it became a dispute as to who controlled the sport and which traditional clubs would survive into the new national era, as News Limited formed their own Super League and admitted some former ARL clubs, poaching players from the original ARL league with high salaries. With twenty-two teams of varying quality playing in two competitions that year, crowd attendances and corporate sponsorships were spread thinly, many teams found themselves in financial difficulty; the ARL undertook moves to invite the traditional clubs that had moved to the Super League competition back into a re-unified competition. Following a period of negotiation with News Corporation, on 23 September 1997 the ARL announced that it was forming a new company to conduct the competition in 1998. On 7 October News' Manaaki Ranginui announced that he was confident that there would be a single competition in 1998. On 19 December, representatives of clubs affiliated with the Australian Rugby League gathered at the Sydney Football Stadium to decide whether to accept News Limited's offer of a settlement – voting in favour by 36 votes to 4.
As a result, in the following months the National Rugby League, jointly owned by the ARL and News Limited, was formed. It was announced that the inaugural National Rugby League season of 1998 would have 20 teams competing, 19 remaining Super League and ARL teams plus the Melbourne Storm, who were created by Super League for their 1998 season. Clubs on both sides of the war were shut down. Super League decided to close the Hunter Mariners and the financially ruined Perth Reds, who were $10 million in debt at the end of 1997, while the ARL decided to close down the South Queensland Crushers, who were in severe financial trouble. Additionally, at the end of 1998 the NRL decided to close down former Super League club, the Adelaide Rams and former ARL club, the Gold Coast Chargers, despite the Gold Coast franchise being one of the few clubs to make a profit during the Super League war. One condition of the peace agreement between the ARL and News Limited was that there would be a 14 team competition in 2000.
The 20 clubs that played in 1998 would be assessed on various items such as sponsorship, crowds, on-field success and the like. It was announced that clubs that merged would
2008 Rugby League World Cup
The 2008 Rugby League World Cup was the thirteenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup since its inauguration in 1954, the first since the 2000 tournament. The tournament was held in Australia from 26 October, culminating in the final between Australia and New Zealand on 22 November. 2008 was the fourth time that the World Cup was held in Australia, the first being in 1957. The tournament was won by New Zealand, who defeated Australia 34–20 in the final in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport; the tournament featured the best ten teams around the globe. A total of eighteen matches; the tournament ended a year of celebrations commemorating the centenary of the game in the southern hemisphere and was part of the Festival of World Cups. The thirteenth Cup was scheduled to be held in Australia in 2004, however the lack of international success by Great Britain and New Zealand after the 2000 World Cup and the rise of the Tri-Nations tournament meant that it was delayed for a further four years.
The Rugby League International Federation announced this tournament on 6 May 2006, with further details on scheduling and dates following on 19 April 2007. The first match took place in Townsville between England and Papua New Guinea, although the official opening ceremony of the competition occurred before the Australia and New Zealand match the following day in Sydney; the final took place at Lang Park in Brisbane. The tournament proved a commercial success, delivering a profit of A$5 million and re-establishing the credibility of the competition; the draw, after being confirmed by the RLIF on 19 April 2007, involved three groups. The first group was made up of four teams. Whilst the other two groups involved three teams each; the semi finals were made up of the first three teams in the first group and the winner of a playoff between the winners of the second and third groups. The draw was put into doubt after the Papua New Guinea team claimed that it was unfair to them and threatened to boycott the tournament should it not be changed.
Marcus Bai, former Papua New Guinean winger and captain, said: They have to change it and if they don't, we won't come. We will ring up the other island nations and teams elsewhere who don't qualify and we can have our own competition, they have shown no respect for our efforts to promote the game up there. For the tournament, this separate island competition did not eventuate. Papua New Guinea still remained upset with the draw, seeing it as a huge challenge but one which would have seen them be rewarded if they had won; the draw was finalised on 4 October 2007. Teams received 2 points for a win, 1-point for a draw; this meant that, unlike in the Australasian National Rugby League, there was no "golden point" rule enforced. In group stages, if two teams had the same number of points positions were determined on points difference, the number of points scored minus the number of points conceded. After group matches were completed, a match featuring the second placed teams in Group B and Group C took place with the winner receiving 7th place.
The third placed teams in Group B and Group C played off for 9th place. It was believed; the hosts, were given automatic entry into the World Cup, along with New Zealand, England and Papua New Guinea. The five remaining places in the World Cup were determined by qualification rounds. Two European rounds and Pacific and Repêchage rounds were scheduled. Tonga and Fiji became the first two nations to qualify after Tonga defeated Samoa 18–10 in Leeds on 22 October, forcing Samoa to enter the repêchage. In the European Group Two, Ireland drew 16–16 with Lebanon to ensure qualification, while Lebanon were forced to enter the repêchage; the final automatic place went to Scotland. Wales faced Lebanon in the repêchage semi-final, where they lost in a surprise 50–26 defeat, to knock them out of World Cup Qualifying. Lebanon faced Samoa, who beat USA 42–10 in the first semi-final, on 14 November for the final qualifying position; the game was won by Samoa, 38–16, so they booked the tenth and final place. Many qualification matches were broadcast live by Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, whilst BigPondTV broadcast matches online for other fans around the world.
Six referees from four countries controlled matches in the tournament. These four nations provided touch judges while England and Australia provided the video referees. In support of the Australian National Breast Cancer Foundation, the referees wore pastel pink shirts while officiating matches to raise awareness; the shirts, which carried the NBCF logo on the collar, were signed by the team captains at each World Cup game and were auctioned off with the proceeds going to the NBCF. Due to Rugby League World Cup rules prohibiting the use of commercial venue names, all venues were known by their non-commercial names, e.g. Suncorp Stadium was known as Lang Park during the tournament. Lang Park would host the World Cup Final. On Sunday night, 26 October, the Sydney Football Stadium hosted the Opening Ceremony of the World Cup, it started with Greg Inglis reciting a speech about "Playing Fair". Following Inglis' speech there was an Aboriginal Smoking ceremony to welcome all the athletes and participants.
This included a rather large sized Rainbow Serpent. The last part of the ceremony involved a performance of the Rugby League World Cup anthem "Hero" by Natalie Bassingthwaighte. A curtai