World series reflects rise of women's game

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The Independent Online

This autumn's already crowded international programme is to gain an extra dimension with the first Women's World Series.

This autumn's already crowded international programme is to gain an extra dimension with the first Women's World Series.

The four-team tournament will feature sides from Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain and Ireland, as well as a New Zealand Maori team which reflects the strength of the women's game in that country.

"New Zealand are very strong but Great Britain won their series in Australia 2-1 and their male counterparts must wish they could claim a result like that," said Jason Harborow, the operations director for the Lincoln World Cup, which, along with the Emerging Nations World Championship, adds up to a total of 50 international games over a packed month.

The women's matches will be spread across the north of England, with the final at Warrington on 24 November.

Jackie Sheldon, the women's development officer, said that the tournament would be the biggest boost for her sector of the game. "We want to develop our own stars, who will be the mentors and role models for our game," she said.

One of those potential stars is Natalie Gilmour, the elder sister of Wigan's Lee Gilmour, who urged Super League clubs to become involved with the women's game.

"It would be a good thing for professional clubs to link up with women's sides, in the way that clubs like Arsenal have done with women's football," he said.

Gilmour remains adamant that he did not strip the ball from Tommy Martyn in the incident that led to St Helens' winning try at the JJB Stadium on Sunday, but the Rugby League's director of rugby, Greg McCallum, insisted yesterday: "The video referee got it right."

Vila Matautia, who was placed on report for suspected use of the forearm on Steve Renouf during that match, has been found not guilty. He could still face other charges over an injury suffered by Chris Chester in another tackle.

Castleford have been dealt a blow to their Super League play-off hopes when their forward Dean Sampson was handed a month's suspension.

The England prop was yesterday banned for four matches and fined £300 after being found guilty of punching.

Sampson was sent off - for the third time this season - for exacting his own retribution for a late tackle by the Wakefield forward Willie Poching on his team-mate Brad Davis during the Tigers' 16-12 win over Trinity last Saturday.

The League has deferred a decision on whether Poching should face disciplinary action.

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