Rugby League: Clubs dismiss plan for return to winter game

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The Independent Online
Controversial plans for a return to winter rugby for clubs outside the Super League have been dropped.

The First and Second Division Clubs' Association met at Dewsbury yesterday to discuss a merger with the amateur game, a move seen as paving the way for an end to summer rugby after just two seasons.

The clubs agreed to proceed with unification talks with the British Amateur Rugby League Association (Barla), but made it clear there would be no U-turn on summer rugby.

A Rugby Football League spokesman said: "There is a possible opportunity to make real progress with the amateur game through constructive dialogue. It has been unanimously agreed that the RFL board of directors should decide the composition of a joint negotiating committee with a view to taking the matter forward so that negotiations can recommence.

"There was also an overwhelming desire by the clubs present at the meeting that they should stay with summer rugby and that there is no longer an option of returning to playing in the winter."

A row had broken out after initial private discussions between Barla officials and Bob Scott, the general manager of the First and Second Division Clubs' Association.

Malcolm White, chairman of Swinton, had warned that some clubs were so angry over what he called undercover talks that they were considering pulling out of the association.

Mike Morrissey, the Barla chairman, has welcomed the possibility of unification, saying: "A window of opportunity has opened for the game of rugby league and egos should not stand in the way of progress."

The newly formed Scottish Rugby League swings into action tomorrow when Linlithgow meet Lomond Valley Raiders and Inverness take on Whitecraigs of Glasgow.

Grangemouth, who have a bye this weekend, are the fifth members of the League, whose other three clubs, Scottish Students, West of Scotland and Cardonald, are not thought strong enough yet to compete in regular fixtures.

The launch of SRL 97, which ends on 24 August, follows the recent international between Scotland and France at the Firhill stadium in Glasgow.

Salford's move for Oldham's unsettled forward David Bradbury looks certain to go to an independent tribunal. The Reds have offered pounds 50,000 for the Great Britain player, who is on the transfer list at pounds 200,000.

Sheffield Eagles beat Northern Territory 28-6 in a friendly in Darwin yesterday, with tries coming from Darren Turner (2), Willie Morganson, Matt Crowther, Johnny Lawless and Lynton Stott. Mark Aston and David Mycoe each kicked one goal.

Castleford's Super League meeting with the London Broncos at Wheldon Road has been brought forward from Sunday 10 August to Friday 8 August at 7.30pm because it is being shown live on Sky Sports.

If London fail to beat Castleford, Bradford Bulls could clinch the title by beating their only other rivals, Leeds, at Odsal two days later in a match that will also be screened live, with a 6.35 start.

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