Rugby league; Tournoi and travel plans broaden horizons

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The Independent Online
The two factions expected to come to blows over the future of the game in Britain have both broadened their horizons with initiatives the value of which not even the other side could doubt.

First, by a matter of hours, came the First and Second Division Association, with the explicit support of the League, which announced its plans for the Treize Tournoi this autumn.

The winners and runners-up in the First Division, plus the Second Division champions, will go up against the three leading French sides - Villeneuve, St Esteve and Limoux - in a tournament sponsored by the media group, Emap, and culminating in a final in Bordeaux on 1 November.

Later in the day, on the other side of Leeds and with the Rugby League keeping only a watching brief, Super League Europe confirmed its blueprint for three weekends of matches "on the road" in July.

A total of 12 Super League games - with points at stake - will be taken around the country in a move designed both to maintain continuity during a scheduled three-week gap and to give virgin areas a taste for the game.

The pairings have already been decided, with last season's first and second-placed sides, Bradford and London, meeting in what might be regarded as the top of the bill, down to Super League newcomers Hull and Huddersfield in another, equally well-balanced contest.

What remain to be decided are the venues, although SLE's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, said that Swansea and Gateshead were certainties and that Glasgow, Dublin and Northampton are also under consideration.

SLE pulled back from confrontation with the League, with the architect of the plan, Gary Hetherington, insisting that the matches could dovetail with the RFL's home internationals.

- Dave Hadfield