League breaks over the border

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The Independent Online
International rugby league comes to Scotland for the first time in 85 years next month. Scotland and Ireland will meet at Partick Thistle's Firhill ground on Tuesday 6 August.

It is only the third league international to be played north of the border, with the previous two in 1909 and 1911. However, the Rugby Football League is hoping the match can ultimately pave the way towards an eventual Five Nations Championship including England, Wales, France, Ireland and the Scots.

"This will be a ground-breaking venture and hope we can attract a reasonable crowd," said Graeme Thompson, the RFL's recently-appointed development officer for Scotland.

Scotland's team will be made up of players from Super League clubs and students. Leeds' Alan Tait, the former Scotland rugby union cap, could be the star attraction as captain of the home side.

The line-ups will be coached by the men who led them through the Halifax Emerging Nations World Cup - George Fairbairn of Scotland and Terry Flanagan of Ireland. The two teams met in Dublin a year ago with Ireland winning 26-22.

The problems rugby league will encounter in trying to get a foothold in Scotland have already become apparent in attempts to schedule this match.

It was to have been played on Wednesday 7 August, but was switched because it clashed with Rangers' game against Russia's Alania Vladikavkaz, in the preliminary round of the Champions' League. However, if Celtic are drawn at home for the first leg of the Uefa Cup preliminary round, which is due to be played on 6 August, then the rugby league game will very much play second fiddle.

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