Many of our clubs are enhancing their facilities by building their own clubhouses which in turn provide an excellent service to their local communities, pride of place this year goes to Wigan St Cuthberts and Siddal (Halifax) who are shortly celebrating their Centenary, their successful completion of their new facilities is the fruition of several years of patient negotiations and hard work by their members.
The BARLA Blue Ribbon County Cup competitions were once again huge successes pulling in bumper crowds over the Christmas period, in Cumbria Ellenbrough beat Kells in a hard fought game going right to the wire. Bank Quay Bulls beat Ashton Bears to take the honours at the Lancashire final and the Yorkshire Cup was contested by Sharlston and Queens with Queens taking the honours. All the BARLA County Cup Finals at Open Age and Youth and Junior were sponsored by Hasbro Sportswear (Horwich Bolton) and BARLA would like to place on record their thanks to Carl Richards for his Sponsorship.
BARLA once again moved to Lytham St Annes on the Lancashire coast for the finals of ACE Insurance Europe Sponsored National Cup which attracted over 90 entries with East Hull and Wath Brow Hornets contesting the final the NCL premier side chasing a double having won the NCL play-offs they proved too strong for Wath Brow, the Bartlett Sponsored Champion of Champions was also played on the same day with Bank Quay showing why they are the Lancashire Champions by beating Ellenbrough Rangers from Cumbria.
In the BARLA County Championship Cumbria ended Yorkshires three year reign as Champions taking both the Open Age and U19s titles, the Cumbria Open Age team are currently creating history by making a tour of Australia at the International level BARLA accounted for Italy but BARLA's 100% Skanska Cup record ended when they were held to a draw by the Police, they will however contest the final against the English Students at Stanningley unfortunately the season was marred in Padua when the game against a French Select XIII was abandoned after 60 minutes because of the unseemly behaviour of the French Side, however on a positive note in the nines tournament the two BARLA sides contested the final.
The County Cups were again sponsored by Halbro and on behalf of the youth and junior game I would like to say a big thank you to all who made the finals a success and congratulate all the teams who took part on giving a tremendous display of rugby league.
The Youth and Junior National cups were sponsored by Northern Rail and I would like to thank them for their support. The finals day was held at South Leeds stadium and an enjoyable day was had by all who attended. Congratulations to all the finalists.
Following problems that occurred towards the end of the season with youth players leaving to join the Academies. BARLA and the RFL have sat down and looked at the old academy agreement along with the way some contracts were worded. Hopefully what has been agreed will work to benefit all in the amateur game.
The BARLA U18's are due to leave soon for a tour of Australia and we wish them well on their trip. Over the last season Youth and Junior Board members have attended several regional league meetings and been made welcome. This is something I would hope will continue as it is important that all members know who we are and that we can be approached to assist if asked.
It has been a very hectic time in the International Calendar.
Last June saw the Open Age team win test matches against South Africa at Open Age and Under 23's level in a very exciting tour of South Africa, 4 matches were played and won.
In July BARLA Under 21's went to Russia and Tarzane again winning both games and seeing different cultures and lifestyles in a very successful tour. In October the Open Age retained the Skanska Cup in hard fought game at Featherstone v the Great Britain Students. In November the Open Age answered an SOS from France to play a Moroccan team made up of players playing in the French professional league. This was to launch the Children In Need program over there, The National Telethone appeal. In June 35 players travelled to Italy and won matches v Italy and a French select side we also won the nine a side tournament. In 12 months over 115 players have represented BARLA, in this time we have not lost a game.
I would like to close by thanking all players, parents, coaches and volunteers who have made the year a success on the pitch with some excellent displays of rugby league. I hope you all continue to enjoy and play our great game.
A S Allison