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NRL to take six games to regional New South Wales in 2021 season



After a tough year for rugby league and its fans due to COVID-19, the NRL are looking to give back in 2021 by taking six games to regional New South Wales.

In a new initiative launched by the NRL called the ‘EISS Super Regional Series NRL Telstra Premiership’, six clubs will play one of their allocated home games at a regional venue.

After a year that saw limited to no fans allowed at venues and only certain grounds chosen to host NRL games, this is a great idea from the ARL Commission to give back to the rugby league community. 

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The following clubs will take their games to these towns in 2021: 

  • Penrith Panthers – Bathurst

  • Canberra Raiders – Wagga Wagga

  • Wests Tigers – Tamworth 

  • South Sydney Rabbitohs – Dubbo 

  • Manly Sea Eagles – Mudgee 

  • Cronulla Sharks – Coffs Harbour 

ARLC boss Peter V’landys described rugby league as the ‘DNA of regional NSW’ and promised to continue to bring games to the country.

“I made a promise to regional NSW that we would take games back to the bush as soon as the competition returned to normality. The infection rate is now zero so we will deliver on that promise and schedule NRL games in six different towns,’’ he said.

“Nowhere is rugby league stronger than in our regions. This year COVID meant we were only able to take one game to regional NSW, so we will make good on that with six games next year.

“One of the Commission’s major objectives in the next three years is to reinvigorate Country Rugby League. Accordingly there is no better way than to take the game’s stars to Country heartland and inspire participation at all levels.”

A big supporter of the initiative – and rugby league in general – is NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who V’landys thanked in the statement.

MORE: Penrith young gun signs with Bulldogs

“There’s no stronger supporter in government for our game than the Deputy Premier. Without the efforts of John we would not have been able to play this year. His common sense approach procures major outcomes for NSW,’’ he said.

“John with his common touch understands how important taking these matches to the bush are and what it means to these communities.

“I also want to thank our six clubs for their commitment to taking a home game to a regional centre.”

Barilaro was also quoted as saying that regional NSW have had a tough few years with drought as well as COVID, and that bringing games to these areas was a great 

“There’s nothing quite like a game of footy to boost morale and nobody deserves it more than our resilient communities in the regions,” he said.

“Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Tamworth, Dubbo, Mudgee and Coffs will play host to a first grade game in the 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership Schedule which will benefit those towns and surrounding areas beyond measure.

“Many professional NRL players come from regional towns and I’m sure they, and the entire state of NSW, thank the NRL for making this a reality.

“Sydney might be the home of NRL, but the regions are where it was born.”

The full NRL draw for 2021 is expected to be announced on Thursday. 

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Titans track and field returns to action – The Crested Butte News



“I want to show them they can make physical and mental changes that will positively affect their lives”

[ by Than Acuff ]

Track and field is back, just like the other spring sports that missed out last year due to COVID. And this will be the first official season that Mitchell Robertson is at the helm as head coach, since as last year was cut short.

While somewhat new to the role, Robertson is not new to competitive sports or a lot of the 24 athletes he has out this season.
Robertson has done extensive work with local sports programs through Heights Performance focusing on aspects such as modern dynamic warm ups, speed development, running form and health. In addition, Robertson started working with the track and field team three years ago as an assistant, stepped into a co-coaching role two years ago and is now the head coach.

Robertson has an extensive sports performance and coaching history having coached everything from kids to professional athletes in both the NFL and Major League Baseball since he was 18 years old. Furthermore, Robertson was a high school national champion in 2001 in the 200, 400 and 800 meters, played professional rugby in England and spent some time as a sponsored athlete on the two-man beach volleyball tour.

That all said, he is tasked with a different approach to track and field and performance-based sports at the helm of the Titans. In addition, with the season cut short and continuing into late June, Robertson has shifted his focus for the kids accordingly ensuring they develop more as athletes and people rather than posting results in track meets on a weekly basis. As a result, while there are six weekends available to race, Robertson opted to limit the team to three meets plus the state meet for the athletes that qualify.
“I don’t want to throw them into five meets where they might have a tough time and are competing more than developing,” says Robertson. “The focus on this year is flexibility and fun. Keeping expectations to a minimum.”

Among his 24 athletes, Robertson has the full gamut of abilities from kids just giving track and field a try to one athlete who already has a name for himself at the national level. In between those two ends of the spectrum are Titans who are athletic but with no true running experience or training.

“My coaching style has adapted to the team and to work with every individual,” explains Robertson. “Crested Butte is not really track and field geared. Part of it is introducing kids to the sport and working on how to get through to them. Solving the puzzle for each individual athlete.”

Amongst his efforts to get the kids up to speed and improving their track and field efforts specifically, Robertson’s overriding focus includes getting the kids to learn the mental and physical abilities and how that can play out in life.

“If you’re motivated to make a physical change, there’s a mental part that comes with that and the upgrade in confidence that will bring,” says Robertson. “I want to show them they can make physical and mental changes that will positively affect their lives.”
And while spring sports training comes with its fair share of foul weather, Robertson has made the most of it with training in Gunnison, in the weight room and even outside embracing the weather.

“You just gotta make do up here,” says Robertson. “We were in the weight room and I decided to get them outside and we were out in the mud and snow for some hard work and there wasn’t a single complaint. It was much better than trying to get them to work hard in the weight room.”

Still, Robertson does have a core group of athletes that could make some waves at the state level and intends on getting at least one relay to qualify as well as some individuals to make their way to the state championships.

The Titans open their race season with a meet this Saturday, May 15 in Hotchkiss. They follow that with a meet the following weekend in Del Norte and will then take two weeks off from racing before closing the regular season with a meet in Montrose. Depending on how things flesh out, some may be then headed to the state meet June 24-26.

“They’re talented enough to pick up some stuff and pick up some medals by the end of the season,” says Robertson.

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Victoria rugby player signs first pro contract in New Orleans



Lachlan ‘Lockie’ Kratz’s love for the game started by following his big brother on the pitch.

“Growing up I was always playing guys older than me because my brother, he’s two years older than I am,” said the Victoria native.

“He’s always kind of been playing up in that sense,” said Gavin Kratz, Lockie’s older brother. “Even though he’s younger and people were gonna pick on him more, he just got better.”

He starred at Oak Bay Secondary, then went onto help the University of Victoria Vikes capture the Canadian University Championship.

Simultaneously, throughout his youth, he represented Canada on the world stage and had big plans prior to the pandemic.

“We had a bunch of tours with the Under 20 national program to go to Europe and Uruguay as well,” said Lockie.

Those trips were cancelled due to COVID-19.

With no competitive rugby in sight and his developing years passing by, Lockie decided to lift and train extra hard. By March of 2021, the 21-year-old had gained approximately ten pounds of muscle and was ready for the next level. At around the same time, Lockie noticed that Major League Rugby had returned after a forced closure due to the pandemic.

“I was like ‘okay, if they’re playing rugby there hopefully I could join in and get a couple games in,’” said Lockie.

Lockie called around to any MLR team that would pick up the phone. He also used his local rugby connections, as many Victoria rugby players and coaches have ties to the MLR. It wasn’t long until the NOLA Gold franchise reached out to Lockie, offering him a tryout with the club. Although he was in the middle of his semester at UVic, Lockie packed his bags and headed to New Orleans. Within just a few weeks, Lockie native signed his first professional rugby contract. He’d proceed to balance training and studying while attending classes online.

“I’m so proud actually even thinking about it I’ll probably get a tear in my eye,” said Lisa Kratz, Lockie’s mother. “I think it says he’s got grit, he’s got determination.”

“It was just a massive relief and just overwhelmed with joy,” said Lockie.

Although he’s been with the team for just over a month, the MLR rookie is already starting matches and playing big minutes. Kratz is expected to stay with the team throughout the season which runs until August.

Lockie Kratz bet on himself and won. A lesson that he’ll carry on throughout his career.

“I came in on my own and was very happy I took the risk and it paid off,” said Lockie.

Meanwhile, separated from her son for the first time, his mother has but one important request.

“Call your mom, Lockie,” she exclaimed.

[email protected]

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Bradford Grammar School student joins Huddersfield Giants



FIFTEEN-year-old Beau Morrison has taken a major step forward in his ambitions to become a pro rugby player by signing for Huddersfield Giants.

Beau, who lives in Mirfield and attends Bradford Grammar School (BGS), has been playing rugby since he was five and says former professional rugby player dad, Glenn, was his main inspiration to take up the sport.

Glenn is a former Bradford Bulls and Wakefield Trinity star and is now a rugby coach and head of athletics at BGS. He has recently been appointed director of rugby for Cleveland Rugby League, in the newly created North American Rugby League.

Beau said signing for Huddersfield Giants was a big step in the right direction of his ambition to be a pro rugby player. He was scouted playing for Siddal Rugby League as a loose forward and for Old Brodleians Rugby Union as a full back.

Said Beau: “I used to go and watch my dad play and I fell in love with the sport. I’ve always wanted to be a pro rugby player and he’s helped me massively in achieving my goals. Hopefully I’ll be able to fulfil my dream in the future.”

Glenn said: “I’m extremely proud of Beau and what he’s achieved in both Rugby League and Rugby Union. He’s been around rugby ever since he was born and wants to make a career out of this. I’ve never wanted to be a pushy parent and have let him do it his own way and it makes me proud that all the hard work he has put in has been rewarded with this contract at a professional club. He’s achieved this on his own with the effort and work he’s put in.”

Beau is training regularly with the Under 16s at the Giants and, with his first match coming up in a few weeks, is hoping he will be selected to play for the Under 16s.

Added Beau: “I love the physicality of rugby. You’re able to run as hard and as fast as you can trying to break the defensive line and you’re able to tackle them as hard as you can, not letting them get past you. It’s something you rarely get in other sports.

“Every single rugby coach at BGS has supported me through my journey and helped me to improve my rugby. The facilities are great, there’s a lot of outdoor and indoor space, and I’ve also had the chance to use the sport conditioning gym to improve myself more which is great.”

Bradford Grammar School is ranked as ‘one of the ten best value private schools in the UK’ (Telegraph 2016, 2019) that achieves excellence in all they do, both in academic and extra-curricular activities (Good Schools Guide 2018).

Outside the classroom sport also plays a fundamental part of a broad, well-rounded education for girls and boys, building character, camaraderie and school spirit.

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