Risman rises to challenge

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Rugby League


One of 's bridge builders crossed from one aspect of development to another yesterday when Bev Risman presided over the code's Varsity match for the last time.

Risman, a dual international in his playing days and the full-time co- ordinator of the Student for the past seven years, is leaving for the less academic surroundings of the London Broncos, where he will be in charge of the club's youth development.

As Cambridge hammered Oxford 42-18 at London Welsh in a fixture whose very existence is testimony to the barriers that have been broken down, he was able to reflect on the progress of the student game.

"We've come a long way," Risman said. "The value of the Varsity match has been in the amount of media coverage and general interest it has brought us."

The City might not stop for the rugby league fixture the way it is reputed to do for the union equivalent, but parts of it now slow down a bit. "We have brought a lot of influential people into our game," Risman said. "If I have one disappointment, it is that there are now a lot of able graduates who have come through the SRL and who would love to work in the game, but clubs seem reluctant to take them on."

Risman sees his new role, bringing the amateur, student and professional game in London closer to each other, as a continuation of what he has tried to do in broadening its base with the SRL. "I see it as a different aspect of the same work," he said.

As if to underline the link, the Broncos put on a public training session at the Old Deer Park before the Varsity game to publicise their forthcoming season in the Super League.

In the latest development on that front in Australia, Super League clubs are lobbying the Australian to include the two new clubs in Newcastle and Adelaide in the ARL competition this year.

St Helens have insisted that their Welsh centre, Scott Gibbs, cannot play rugby union for Newcastle without their permission, despite signing registration forms.

"We were surprised to hear about Newcastle's move because nobody from their club has been in touch with us," Saints' chief executive, David Howes, said.

"Scott is going nowhere. While rugby union has recently entered the professional sport arena we believe that they are now entering an area with which they are not fully conversant. Because of his contractual obligations to both St Helens and News Corporation, Scott cannot enter into an agreement with anybody else without clearance from the club and News Corporation."

Saints' other centre, Paul Newlove, has been cleared of a high tackle in the Silk Cut Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Widnes on Saturday. A video was studied on a frame-by-frame basis by the director of referees, Greg McCallum, who found that Newlove, Saints' pounds 500,000 world-record signing, had no case to answer.

McCallum, has also rejected claims that a Widnes try was wrongly disallowed for a forward pass.