To begin this week, a brief update on Scarborough Pirates, who are currently awaiting confirmation of the league in which they will be competing, come the beginning of the new amateur summer season, on April 21.
The Pirates now know that they will be competing in one of the regional Yorkshire leagues, having had their application (one of several to differing leagues) to join the North East league rejected.
The format for next season’s Yorkshire leagues is to differ from previous seasons but is as yet to be finalised, as all affiliated clubs are yet to vote.
A decision is expected on February 27 and I hope to be able to bring you confirmation of that decision in next week’s column.
However, Pirates’ team manager, Dave Marsden anticipates that his club will be placed in Yorkshire division three or four – regionalised leagues, consisting of ten teams, which will ultimately feed into a Yorkshire-wide Premier division, with each club fielding a reserve side in a concurrently running reserve competition.
The Pirates have around 50 players signed on for the forthcoming season and will be looking to make a big impact in whichever division they are placed.
The first team, many of whom have grown up playing rugby league together, are maturing as a team, and despite their relatively tender years I believe that this season could be one in which they come of age.
The altering of the previous season’s league format could give the Pirates a real opportunity for success this season, particularly with the likes of siblings, Sam and James Millward, and Jack and Sam Hakings in their ranks.
The return of influential show-and-go merchant, Billy Parker, from his intrepid Antipodean adventure, midway through the season, will be a big boost too, and his return could well prove to be the catalyst for a Pirates’ promotion push.
Head coach, Chris Keld, is always looking to acquire new talent and anyone wishing to join the Pirates’ ranks is welcome to attend training, currently being held at Gristhorpe cricket club on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm.
A mention also must go this week to Scarborough Pirates under-17s who produced a super display at Oliver’s Mount last weekend to defeat table-topping Kippax 28-16.
The Pirates’ tries were scored by Liam Braithwaite, Nathan Hakings, the impressive Ben Owram, man of the match Alex Paddock, and the strong-running Josh Collin who bagged himself a brace.
Now a brief allusion to the newly crowned, World Club Champions, Leeds Rhinos, who proved that the Poms (not an offensive term, as deemed by the Australian Advertising Standards Board – according to that bastion of ‘fact’, Wikipedia) really can play a little bit of ‘footie’ - much to the dissatisfaction of one of my Australian friends, ‘Aussie Stevo’, who was adamant that Manly would win last Friday evening.
The Rhinos’ wonderful display made sipping my ‘sangria at the pier’, Wigan Pier in Tenerife to be exact, all the sweeter.
Led by the performances of three English Lionhearts: the ivory-tickling, Rubik’s Cube-completing, try-scoring machine, Ryan Hall, the awe-inspiring, Buckingham Palace-visiting, Jamie Peacock MBE, and the human embodiment of perfection that is Kevin Sinfield, the Rhinos producing an outstanding defensive effort to see off the Australian champions by a scoreline of 26-12.
This success came despite the early losses of the much-maligned, Ryan Bailey, and the much under-rated, sports retail chain-initialled, Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
And if you’re still with me after that load of convoluted nonsense, then allow me to finish by pointing you in the direction of the pick of this week’s Stobart Super League matches, which takes place tomorrow night at Langtree Park, where Saints take on Catalans Dragons, live on Sky Sports.
Both of these sides love to throw the ball around and are capable of scoring from anywhere on the field at any given time.
Expect a high-scoring, thoroughly entertaining game, laced with some outstanding pieces of skill.