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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Barrow bid to host World Cup matches

BARROW Raiders have made a bid to rescue Cumbria’s hopes of holding two matches in next year’s Rugby League World Cup.

The RFL stripped Whitehaven of Scotland’s games against Italy and Tonga last month amid fears their proposed Pow Beck Community Stadium will not be ready in time.

Now the Evening Mail can exclusively reveal Raiders – with the backing of Barrow Borough Council – have expressed their interest in hosting the matches at Craven Park, the venue for the 2000 match between Russia and Fiji.

Workington and Scotland, too, are being mooted as potential venues, but Raiders chairman Jimmy Tongue and director Keith Nutter are hopeful Craven Park will come up trumps, having received positive feedback from the RFL.

Writing in today’s Evening Mail, Nutter says: “It has been well publicised Workington have offered Derwent Park as an alternative venue, but I can now reveal Barrow also moved quickly to throw our hat into the ring.

“Chairman Jimmy Tongue has held talks with the RFL over the last month to argue the case for holding at least one game (either Scotland v Tonga or Scotland v Italy) at Craven Park. Jim’s representations have been well received and a decision on the reallocation of these matches is expected shortly.

“We can now keep our fingers crossed we are successful with our last-minute efforts and hope the powers that be agree it is essential these two fixtures take place in Cumbria, one of the traditional hotbeds of our great game.”

Tongue first made contact with the RFL when it was suggested Pow Beck would not be available and followed that with further conversations when the situation was confirmed.

Signs from the organisers have been good, with Barrow receiving council backing for their bid and hearing positive noises from the governing body.

Tongue said: “They seem to be very pleased and happy with our bid. We’re hoping the two Scottish games will remain in Cumbria.

“Firstly, because of our proximity to them and secondly because we feel Cumbria is an area that really does deserve proper recognition from the RFL. It would be a big thing for the rugby league community in the area. There is a strong Scottish population in the areas as well, so we could tempt them along to support their national side and introduce them to rugby league.

“We hope we can get one, or perhaps even both of the matches. We are quite happy to share it with Workington Town, because it is Cumbria and it is a joint thing – we all need to sink or swim together.”

As well as playing two matches in Whitehaven, Scotland were due to use the area’s Copeland Stadium as a training centre.

That would still be possible should Workington and/or Barrow be chosen to host their games.

Nutter believes one factor that will play into Barrow’s hands is the level of support being shown for the team in Championship One, who might well see hometown winger James Nixon in action for Scots, coached by former Raiders boss Steve McCormack.

Average crowds at Craven Park are more than 400 higher than the nearest rival and the Raiders director added: “Last Sunday’s figure of 1,808 was phenomenal for a match at Championship One level and comfortably the best in the division all season.

“This level of support will not have gone unnoticed by the RFL and will be raising quite a few eyebrows across the whole sport. The average attendance for the seven competitive matches in 2012 at Craven Park is around 1,370.

“Another bumper attendance (this weekend against London Skolars) will obviously help both the club and our attempt to bring a World Cup match to the region.”

An announcement on the venues for Scotland’s matches is expected from RFL chief Nigel Wood by the end of the month.

* Barrow Raiders are holding a sportsman’s dinner at the Lisdoonie Hotel on Friday, June 1, starting at 7.30pm.

The speaker will be former Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain flier Keith Senior, with comedian Mike Munroe in support. Tickets cost £25 and can be purchased from Keith Holt or the Rugby Shop, Scott Street, Barrow.

Have your say

Get a grip Greg !When was Barrow Ever, allowed to hold anything of note, without some greedy so & sos trying to make Money out of it, & ruining things for the decent People of Furness ? Nuff said.

Posted by Wally ! on 19 May 2012 at 01:04

why is it a laugh col please do explain,or are you one of these insane Barrow AFC fans who thinks there's a rivalry between the football and rugby,that's a laugh

Posted by Greg Rose on 18 May 2012 at 15:23

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