Rugby Union: Upside down at Anfield: Different worlds mix at an unusual venue. Dave Hadfield reports

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

IT would be, Mike Turner assured me, a different world. Turner knows about sport's different worlds. Before he became commercial manager for Liverpool Football Club, he was marketing executive at the Rugby League. Yesterday's match was his first experience of the other code and it was a revealing one.

'Everything is the other way up,' he said. 'It's the most expensive seats and hospitality packages that sell out first.

'Our top priced package at Anfield is pounds 65 per head and we sell it out three or four times a season. We put it up to pounds 94 (for this game) and I was worried about selling it, but all 360 places went in hours.'

There might have been record beer sales in the downstairs bars, but upstairs it was the more expensive bottles of wine that were selling out.

Anfield has seen rugby before. Rugby league has staged a Charity Shield and a world club challenge here, but this was the first chance for the local Scallies to offer to 'mind yer Range Rover.'

The northern division drew the line at Turner's idea for the players to be introduced individually, Wembley style, as they trotted out, however. As for the game . . . 'I was waiting for something to happen,' Fred Lindop, once rugby league's top referee, said.

On the positive side, nobody had his face opened by a stray stud - league scrums might be a mess but they are benign affairs compared to the bottom of a ruck. And, however they jack up the value of a try, in union the kicker remains king.

Zinzan Brooke would have made an interesting convert if he had not returned Manly's cheque a couple of years ago and I was sorry not to be able to linger over the potential of Inga the Winger.

The Wigan bush telegraph still maintains that Va'aiga Tuigamala will join them after this All Black tour. That will not please the New Zealand journalist, Trevor McKewen, who, in yesterday's programme, identified Tuigamala's decision to stay in union as a turning point in the battle between the codes.

That and the fact that, according to him, 'the New Zealanders flirtation with league is wearing thin as the defence-orientated and repetitive nature of the Australian game begins to lose its appeal.'

Talk to me about that again when the Auckland Warriors are packing the city's biggest stadium every week and Inga's a Wiganer.

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