Rugby League: World final changes venue

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The Independent Online
The final of the World Club Championship has been switched to Auckland while, in another change to the international calendar, four British clubs are to miss out on money-spinning fixtures against the Australian tourists.

The final of the WCC was scheduled for the Sydney Football Stadium on 18 October, but Super League in Australia has decided after poor attendances in the qualifying rounds of the competition that it will be better supported in New Zealand.

The quarter and semi-finals of the competition will go ahead as planned, in both hemispheres, over the previous two weekends.

The proposed seven-match Australian tour of Britain which follows the final has been reduced to three games, all of which will be Tests.

The Australians were due to play London Broncos plus the other three highest-placed clubs in Britain, but that itinerary has been scuppered by plans for a possible reunification match between the winners of the southern hemisphere's Super League and the rival Australian Rugby League.

That has been provisionally fixed for the weekend between the WCC final and the first Test at Wembley on 1 November, leaving no time for lead- up matches before the series starts.

Australia will now play Great Britain at Wembley, at Old Trafford on 8 November and Elland Road on 14 November, before going to France for one Test.

Splits are appearing among the First and Second Division clubs, some of whose representatives have been working towards reunification with Barla, the governing body of the amateur game.

Bob Scott, the general manager of the Association of First and Second Division Clubs, has called a meeting with Barla tomorrow, which he hopes will lead to a merger of the two bodies.

However, Malcolm White, the chairman of Swinton, says that meetings have been taking place "without the permission of clubs" and that Scott has become "far too involved in the politics of the game".

Some clubs, he claims, are considering withdrawing from the association, and the alarm of Super League clubs is shown by the decision to send the Leeds chief executive, Gary Hetherington, to tomorrow's meeting.