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Author Archive for Gavin Willacy

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Key workers to be given 20,021 free tickets to Rugby League World Cup

Frontline staff will be thanked for their dedication during the coronavirus pandemic at the tournament in England next yearBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredThe decision to move the Olympics and the European Championship to 2021 could have Jon Du…

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What next for the Super League, Challenge Cup and England fixtures?

The coronavirus pandemic could lead to a complete reboot of how rugby league is organised – starting next yearBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredWhen the time comes that rugby league can shape a fixture list for the rest of 2020, they will have to…

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English football should prepare for a new financial reality after coronavirus

The pandemic will have a huge financial impact on footballers, with many already fearful of losing their livelihoodsBy Gavin Willacy for Playing in the ShadowsThe decision of Barnet chairman Tony Kleanthous to lay off all non-playing staff at the club …

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Rugby league’s new eligibility rules affect England and the Man of Steel

The ‘very patriotic’ England boss Shaun Wane has picked his first squad and it is not good news for Jackson HastingsBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredIf new England coach Shaun Wane gets to meet his squad for the first time next Monday at Old Tra…

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Football players and their relationship with Love Island

The winner and runner-up on the latest series were both footballers. Why is sport such a natural fit for reality TV?By Gavin Willacy for Playing in the ShadowsWhat is it about young footballers and romance-based reality shows? Both the male winner and …

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Budget cuts for second-tier clubs are worrying – for rugby union and league

The RFU’s decision to slash funding for Championship clubs sets a worrying precedent for rugby leagueBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredThe RFU’s decision to slash funding for teams in the Championship – the second tier of English rugby union – wi…

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Wigan kick off the new Super League season buoyed by young talent

Wigan signed George Burgess and Jackson Hastings this winter, but fans should also be excited about some emerging playersBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredThe spotlight will be on George Burgess and Jackson Hastings when Wigan kick off the new Su…

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The Chelsea academy has a new generation of talent on the way

The days when John Terry was the only academy graduate in the Chelsea team are starting to feel like ancient historyBy Gavin Willacy for Playing in the ShadowsThe 522 minutes that Danny Drinkwater played for Chelsea in the Premier League cost the club …

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Rugby league: 20 questions to be answered in 2020

How will Toronto cope in the Super League? Who will win the Championship? Will Clare Balding have an impact?By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredClubs are split over ditching the “loop” fixtures: some say they need the income, some who rent stadiums…

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Where is your club’s next manager? Coaching the youth team

Fifteen of the 20 managers in the Premier League started out coaching youth teams, reserves or part-time sidesBy Gavin Willacy for Playing in the ShadowsThree Premier League teams will be led by temporary managers this weekend – and all three learned t…

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Christian Wade: ‘I don’t have time to miss anything about rugby’

The former England winger talks about life in the NFL, the spirit in Buffalo Bills locker room and their very long meetingsBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredSix years after playing for the British and Irish Lions, Christian Wade is trying to make…

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Rugby league has become competitive – but only in the southern hemisphere

While the rise of Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea is brilliant, the wealthiest investors are in Europe and North AmericaBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required“You all need to have a good look at what’s happened with the international game over the l…

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Wayne Bennett has failed as Great Britain Lions coach

Three straight defeats in New Zealand is bad enough, but Bennett has not even grasped what make the Lions specialBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredThere is no shame in losing to the Kiwis in New Zealand. It has happened to the last 11 British int…

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Wayne Bennett has failed as Great Britain Lions coach

Three straight defeats in New Zealand is bad enough, but Bennett has not even grasped what make the Lions specialBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredThere is no shame in losing to the Kiwis in New Zealand. It has happened to the last 11 British int…

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Rugby X is neither league nor union, but it might just catch on

The new five-a-side rugby format captured a new audience when it debuted at the O2 Arena in LondonBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredIt wasn’t rugby union and it wasn’t rugby league. It was indoors, it was five-a-side, it was strange and it was di…

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Premier League sucks up talent as EFL clubs count cost of reserve teams

While the top clubs are sending dozens of players on loan, Under-23 sides are being scrapped further down the pyramidBy Gavin Willacy for Playing in the ShadowsMaking 11 changes and yet still knocking Arsenal out of the League Cup came at a price for L…

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The Great Britain Lions go into New Zealand Test bruised and beaten

The Lions and New Zealand both lost at the weekend. Who will respond better when they meet in Auckland on Saturday?By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredIt is not often British rugby league can be grateful to the England rugby union team, but Saturda…

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Ben Ryan on Rugby X: ‘Five-a-side, indoors, no goal-kicking, no lineouts’

The coach sits down for a chat to explain a new rugby format that is being unveiled in London next weekBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredBen Ryan went from the streets of Brentford to becoming honorary Fijian royalty after leading their sevens te…

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‘It’s been a right ride’: Salford hold heads high after Grand Final defeat

Salford did not pull off a miracle against St Helens on Saturday but it was an occasion their fans will treasure for everBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredThere was no Leicester City-esque climax to this remarkable story, after all. But Salford w…

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Premier League reserves: where kids on £300 a week mix with millionaires

Héctor Bellerín played well for Arsenal Under-23s while returning from injury, but not every big star is a great exampleBy Gavin Willacy for Playing in the ShadowsMost of the Arsenal Under-23 team will have been unfazed by the thought of playing Liverp…