2006 Challenge Cup Final VenueThe RFL today (31.03.06) announced that the venue for the 2006 Challenge Cup Final will be Twickenham Stadium. Rugby League's governing body had to make the switch after it received formal notice from WNSL (Wembley National Stadium Ltd) that the new national stadium would not be completed in time to stage the game on August 26. The RFL is confident that the 2006 Powergen Challenge Cup Final will be a success at the changed venue given the sell out crowds that have attended the fixture while it has been on the road since 1999. The decision to move the match to Twickenham will enable supporters to maintain any travel and accommodation plans they may have already made for the Bank Holiday weekend. Richard Lewis, Executive Chairman of the RFL, said: "Naturally, it is disappointing not to be playing this prestigious game at the new stadium, but the fact of the matter is the Challenge Cup Final is all about the event. In August, fans and TV viewers will still experience the unique atmosphere and spectacle that has made the Challenge Cup Final a key part of the national sporting calendar - and Twickenham is a world-class facility in which to showcase this premier Rugby League match." RFU Business Operations Director, Paul Vaughan said: "I can confirm that the RFU has agreed with the RFL to host the Challenge Cup Final at Twickenham on August 26. We're delighted that we can help out and provide Twickenham Stadium for such a prestigious occasion. We've worked well with the RFL in the past when we hosted the opening match of the 2000 Rugby League World Cup and the 2001 Challenge Cup and we look forward to doing so again." Commenting on the changed venue, tournament title sponsors Powergen gave the move their full backing. Mike Thompson, Powergen's Head of Sponsorship, said: "Our sponsorship of the Powergen Challenge Cup has been a success based on the values of the game, the heritage of the competition and huge interest from Rugby League fans, communities and the media. We are looking forward to this year's final." The RFL confirmed that all tickets sold to date are transferable to Twickenham. RFL Ticketing will be allocating all current bookings to seats over the next few weeks and contacting supporters by post.Explaining the process for obtaining tickets to the changed venue, Simon Malcolm, RFL Marketing Director, said: "Transferred tickets will be posted to supporters well in advance of the event. We will also be loading information regarding travel and parking onto the RFL website." The RFL also confirmed that it will be following its original plans for delivering a truly memorable event on the day. This includes staging a final of the Powergen Champion Schools Tournament, a re-design of the Cup Final medals and a pre-match ceremony to celebrate the great history of the competition, as well promoting the game in modern way that appeals to the widest audience possible. "The 2006 Powergen Challenge Cup Final may have had to change the place where its played, but it remains firmly in place in the hearts of Rugby League supporters who, I have no doubt, will celebrate the culmination of this great knock-out competition in style at Twickenham in August," concluded Malcolm.
National League Grand Final Goes to WarringtonThe RFL has confirmed that the 2006 LHF Healthplan National League Grand Final will be staged at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington on Sunday, October 8. For the last four years the Finals have been hosted by the neighbouring Halton Stadium in Widnes but following Widnes Vikings' relegation from the engage Super League at the end of last season there was a need to provide a neutral venue for the Finals. For the last two years the Finals day has featured a triple-headed fixture with the LHF League Three Grand Final, the LHF League One Qualifying Final and the LHF League One Grand Final all being staged on one day. Simon Malcolm, the RFL's Director of Marketing, said: "The Halliwell Jones is one of the most modern stadiums in British Rugby League. It has superb facilities. "It also has the advantage of not being shared with a soccer club and that removes the possibility of fixture clashes in October. "Warrington Wolves have demonstrated that they can successfully stage major Rugby League occasions by hosting several international fixtures and they are superbly situated near the motorway network, major rail links and both Manchester and Liverpool airports. "The LHF Healthplan National League Finals day has developed into one of British Rugby League's premium events when players from the community professional clubs have an opportunity to take centre stage while it is a great value day out for all the family. "The RFL has been very satisfied with the way that the Halton Stadium hosted the Finals day but obviously we have to play such a prestigious fixture on a neutral ground".
Bridge and Clarke Sign New DealsWarrington Wolves have extended the contracts of senior squad members Jon Clarke and Chris Bridge.The pair, who have both started the Engage Super League XI in a rich vain of form penned new deals today and pledged their long term commitment to the club.Clarke, has signed for a further two years at The Halliwell Jones Stadium and his contract will now expire in November 2008.The Physical hooker has an infectious competitive spirit; his versatility saw him switch between dummy half and back row with great success last season. Generally used as the WolvesÆ starting no.9, he hits big in the early part of the game and is a strong defender from marker. He was Super LeagueÆs most effective tackler in 2004 with a 99% success rate, and was fourth highest tackler in the competition in 2005.Clarke Represented Great Britain Academy whilst coming through the junior ranks at Wigan, he played in their 1997 Premiership Final winning side against St Helens. Followed his ex Wigan coach John Monie to London Broncos in 2000, but returned north during the 2001 season when the Wolves were forced to sign a hooker on loan to solve an injury crisis. Jon an instant impact with some courageous performances against top sides to earn a permanent deal at the club, and has grown into a stalwart of Paul CullenÆs Wolves. Chris Bridge has penned a three year new deal, which expires in November 2009.The Wolves paid Bradford ú30,000 at the start of 2005 to secure the services of one of the most exciting natural talents in the country on a three year deal. Bridge featured on the wing towards the end of last season but favours stand-off or centre. For a playmaker he has a powerful physique and hits hard in defence, he has dangerous footwork and can step through the line. One of the heroes of England AcademyÆs historic first ever series victory over the Australian Schoolboys, Bridge played centre in both æTestsÆ of the 2002 Academy series. Oldham born, he played for North West Counties and Lancashire schools as a junior before turning professional with Huddersfield Giants Academy. Upon the GiantsÆ relegation from Super League in 2001, he was ruled a free agent at tribunal enabling Super League champions Bradford Bulls to sign him. A dominating figure for the BullsÆ Academy, he won the Dave Valentine Memorial Trophy in their Senior Academy Grand Final defeat to Wigan Warriors in 2003.Head Coach Paul Cullen said: "We are delighted to secure the long term future of both Jon Clarke and Chris Bridge at Warrington Wolves. To extend the deals of these two influential squad members is a huge boost for the club."
5 Wolves Earn England PlaceFive Warrington Wolves youngsters have been named in the England Academy Under 18's Squad to face France next month.Ben Harrison (prop), Danny Colquitt (loose forward), Anthony Rourke (back row), Kevin Penny (winger) and Matty Blythe (centre) are all celebrating call ups this week as part of the the 22-man England squad, which will travel to France in April to take on their elite youngsters. With clashes against the Australian Combined High Schools and the Australian Institute of Sport ahead, 2006 promises to be every bit as exciting as in recent years, which have seen the Academy grow steadily stronger - and prove it by beating the best in the World. The most recent International at Academy level saw England share a two game Series against the Australian Institute of Sport last December - ten of the players who took on the A.I.S. are up for selection once more, but there's also a whole fresh batch of newcomers to the Academy representative ranks.Warrington's Gary Chambers will be the Head Coach with Keiron Purtill of Huddersfield as his Assistant, whilst the Manager's post will be filled by former Wigan and Castleford International Barrie-Jon Mather. Preparation for the game begins in earnest on April 2nd. when the Squad meets for their initial training run. The game will be played at The Complexe Sportif De Carpentras with a 19.00hrs kick off on the 27th April, and looks guaranteed to get the 2006 Academy Representative season off to a terrific start. The England Academy Under 18's Squad in full, will be reduced to a travelling squad of 18 after the final training session.
18 Man SquadPaul Cullen has named his final 18-man squad for Round 7 of the engage Super League against the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. Included in the 18 is Martin Gleeson who was doubful earlier in the week after picking up a nasty facial injury which required 8 stitches, also included are U21 packmen Steve Pickersgill and Simon Grix.Brent GroseHenry Fa'afiliMartin Gleeson Toa Kohe-LoveLee BriersMichael SullivanChris LeikvollJon ClarkeLogan SwannMike WainwrightPaul NooneBen WestwoodPaul WoodRichie Barnett Rob ParkerSimon GrixSteve PickersgillChris Bridge
Club StatementWarrington Wolves would like to release the following club statement concerning the RFL disciplinary complaint: 10/2006 (Huddersfield Giants vs Warrington Wolves, 19/02/06): "Warrington Wolves are satisfied with the response of the disciplinary investigator from the Rugby Football League after our allegation of a breach of the rules was made out by them. Having considered all the details and mitigating factors, the club believe Mr Cooper's substantial fine is the correct course of action from the RFL. Warrington Wolves would now like to conclude this case and draw a line under the matter."
Cullens CommentPaul Cullen gives his candid views on the Round 6 game against the Catalans at the weekend and looks towards this weekends fixture against the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.You said on Saturday evening you had 'carried' several players, what is causing this - attitude or ability? Attitude. The respect required to take that game out of the hands of a very spirited and desperate Les Catalans team was not offered by everyone in the Warrington seventeen. We sent them some very weak signals early on, they received these, and used them to their advantage.What can you do to put this right? We will attempt to reinforce the message that was not respected by a number of our players, which is to fully respect the fighting qualities of our opponents.When you fought back to a winning position in the second half should you really kill the game from there?Yes. The response at half-time offered encouragement, but we failed to work hard enough in defence to control their last desperate attempts to get back in the game. Players took short cuts and we were found out.On second view what do you make of Michael Sullivan's short ball to Chris Bridge in the middle of the park that was deemed forward by Mr Ganson? That decision did not cost us the game, nor did any other; we were soft and we got punished. Are you missing any fighting spirit, drive or motivation from some members of the playing squad? I thought that was visible from the kick off, from some it was simply a game too far which is an unacceptable weakness. What positives do you take from such a defeat? I would not insult the intelligence of our supporters by offering cheap sound bites on the back of that performance. Honesty is the only policy; our effort was not good enough.Will you talk much about the game this week or sign it off as a bad day at the office?We will not hide from the very obvious areas of our preparation that need to be addressed.In Paul Rauhihi and Stuart Reardon you are missing two first grade internationals, are the missing personnel really beginning to hit you hard? No, the 17 that took to the field against Les Catalans were more than capable of winning that game.Wakefield have had a struggling start this season, they will be as hungry as ever to turn the tables. What threats have you identified from The Wildcats?The threat is very simple; if our attitude is dishonest we will lose the game. You have arguably played some of your best Rugby on the road this season; do you feel under less pressure away from The Halliwell Jones Stadium? No, individuals did not respect the ball against Salford and other individuals did not respect the game against Les Catalans.
Team NewsWarrington Wolves Head Coach Paul Cullen will be hoping to call on the services of Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson for the trip to Belle Vue on Sunday (March 26), kick off 3.30pm. Despite suffering a facial injury, which required eight stitches, Gleeson is expected to feature in the Mothering Sunday encounter against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.X-rays earlier this week showed no break of Gleeson's cheekbone following a clash during the defeat at home to the Catalans Dragons and he has been included in The Wolves initial 20 man squad.Stuart Reardon (hand) and Paul Rauhihi (hamstring) are still unavailable for selection for the fixture, medical staff say the pair are making steady progress and could be in contention for The Wolves next Engage Super League tie.Warrington Wolves 20 man squad vs Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Brent GroseHenry Fa'afiliMartin GleesonToa Kohe-LoveLee BriersMichael SullivanChris LeikvollJon ClarkeMark HiltonLogan SwannMike WainwrightPaul NooneRob ParkerMark GleesonBen WestwoodPaul WoodDanny LimaRichie BarnettChris BridgeSteve Pickersgill
Under 21's Aren't Firing Yet' - RileyDespite a 100% start to the Senior Academy season Chris Riley believes The Wolves Under 21's side have yet to produce their finest rugby. The promising young winger has touched down four times so far this season during a string of impressive performances against Salford, Huddersfield, Hull and Wigan.Riley, an elusive and deceptively strong wide player has so far found first team opportunities limited, however he is happy to bide his time in Gary Chambers side who currently top the Senior Academy Championship along with Bradford Bulls after four wins on the trot.He said: "At the start of the season we looked at the strength of the squad and knew we'd compete. We've had a great start, but I don't think we are playing our best stuff just yet. It's pleasing to be winning, against Wigan we showed what we can do, but the side has a lot more to show during the season in terms of ability."The Warrington born wingman joined the club from Woolston Rovers, working his way through the Service Area teams and club scholarship. Part of Warrington Junior Academy teams which won the First Division in 2003 and 2004, he made a try scoring debut for England Academy against France at Knowsley Road in 2005, shortly before breaking into the Wolves team. Riley also appeared for England U17 against the Australian Institute of Sport at the end of last season. After making his debut in the Super League as a 17 year old in 2005 Chris has continued to develop his all round game."So far Super League stars like Mike Wainwright, Mark Hilton, Richie Barnett, Michael Sullivan and Danny Lima have added experience, strength and guile to an already solid and well established side. The continued progression of players such Chris Riley, Ben Harrison, Steve Pickersgill and Simon Grix has been just as notable. For such young players they are showing a maturity on and off the field well ahead of their years.He added: "The Under 21's side have a good combination of first team players who are knocking on the door and youngsters who are beginning to make a name for themselves.""It's beneficial for my game to play with the senior lads who have featured this season. As a team we are doing fine across the field. I think the emergence of several junior players like Mike Cooper, Kevin Penny and Steven Roper also been vitally important to the development of the senior academy side." Riley explained.
Swann Hoping Added Aggression Can Tame WildcatsKiwi international second rower Logan Swann believes increased aggression and desire is needed by The Wolves ahead of Sunday's trip to Belle Vue.Swann, who featured in Warrington's disappointing home defeat to the Catalans Dragons last weekend, thinks the squad will have to cut out sloppy errors before playing the exciting brand of rugby league the supporters crave.Paul Cullen's side will be hoping to reproduce the away form they showed at The JJB Stadium against Wigan Warriors earlier this month and Logan Swann thinks lessons can be learned from Saturday's slip up. Swann, who is expected to feature against Wakefield, explained: "Against The Catalans we started in third gear and then made errors from there, I don't think it was all about complacency, but we definitely made it difficult for ourselves. This week we have put in extra work so we can cut out the type of errors that cost us.""In training we talked about the defeat, but now we need to start Sunday's game positively. The squad have been putting the emphasis on resolving problem areas and developing a winning attitude. Aggression and desire are both important and we need these elements directly from the kick-off.""Ideally we wanted a win against the French and from there we saw the potential to get a roll on with the following game. That wasn't the case, but a win at Wakefield could be the confidence boost we need to build some momentum.""As a group of players we want to show our supporters who travel to Yorkshire how much we care."A virus has limited Logan Swann to just three appearances so far this season; however he has now fully recovered from the illness which he admits knocked him for six in February.He was a class act in his first season at Warrington after returning to his specialist position as an 'edge' backrower. A strong and athletic runner who takes control of the fringes in defence, he forms a devastating triangle on the Wolves right edge alongside Martin Gleeson and Henry Fa'afili, scoring a double figure tries count of his own in 2005. A junior with Otahuhu Leopards and Allersley Eagles in New Zealand, Swann joined the Auckland Warriors colts in their inaugural season as a franchise in the Australian competition in 1995. Achievedthe unusual distinction of winning three Test caps before he had even played first grade for the Warriors, called up to the New Zealand squad for the 1996 whitewash against Great Britain after impressing for a NewZealand Residents XIII against the touring Lions. Went on to become a stalwart of the Warriors side for seven seasons, winning the Minor Premiership in 2002 and playing in the Grand Final defeat to Sydney Roosters the same year. Part of the history-making Kiwi tourists of 1998 who became the first New Zealand side to win a Test series in Great Britain, he also played in the 2000 World Cup Final. Joined Bradford Bulls for a season in 2004, winning the World Club Challenge and playing in a losing Grand Final for the second time in his career, against Leeds Rhinos.