December 8th 2014
Henry and Josh Turning Blue
The Blues continued their recruitment for the 2015 season after Henry Swailes and Josh Scott penned contracts.
Scott who is based at RAF Halton (where he is in the RAF regiment which is the force protection of the RAF) has done two tours of Afghanistan within the last 4 years and has now been posted south to help out with the training of recruits in the RAF.
Strong running winger Henry Swailes is another local discovery who has been tempted from the union ranks, having played for Chinnor, Oxford and Wilmslow RFU, along with representative rugby with Oxfordshire U18's and U21's. “Henry shows a lot of promise, he has the attributes to be a league player and a hard pre season will be key for him” said Head Coach Tim Rumford.
Team Manager Ryan Cousins commented: "We're pleased to have Henry on board. I believe he is capable of achieving a lot at Oxford and the same goes for Josh, another recommended player from the ranks of the RAF. He‘s a member of the RAF and GB forces' 1st teams and he’s a hard running forward, originally from Keighley but now based in the south. Both are terrific additions to our squad.”
On joining the Blues Josh said "I'm really happy to be joining Oxford and being able to test myself at this level in League 1. My aims are to establish myself in the 1st team and help the club have a good season, as well as aiming to play in Australia with the GB Armed Forces."
Henry was equally delighted by saying "I'm very excited about my move to Oxford RL and rugby league in general. Oxford RL is a club with high aspirations and I'm proud to be a part of it."
November 27th 2014
Tiger Rumford Appointed Head Coach
Oxford RL is delighted to announce the appointment of Tim Rumford as their new Head Coach
Tim was previously Head of the Castleford Tigers Academy helping the progress of home-grown talent such as Adam Milner,Daryl Clarke, Ryan Brierley, Jonny Walker and Oliver Holmes, through the ranks to the first team. Rumford’s links to the Tigers will stay in place as he remains as their Foundation and Trust Manager.
Rumford has built his coaching pedigree within the academy system, winning admirers for his structured approach to the development of players in the youth set-up. Tim also gained experience as assistant coach at Gateshead Thunder and in his playing career had spells at York and Hunslet, after beginning his career with amateur club Castleford Lock Lane.
Commenting on the appointment, Managing Director Adrian Smith said, "In Tim I believe we have a Head Coach who has the energy, desire and confidence to take up the opportunity that Oxford RL offers. He’s proved his ability to develop players as individuals as well as part of a team and that’s exactly what I want Tim to bring to our club.”
Speaking on his appointment, Tim Rumford said "Oxford are a development club which have made a solid start and the board have established a club with a feel good factor about it. I’m honoured to have been given this opportunity and I’m looking forward to starting work with the squad.”
Smith added “I was genuinely flattered as a development club to have numerous candidates in for the position, with standout CVs amongst them. Tim’s was one of them and he impressed us with his coaching philosophy. He’s definitely got the appetite and credentials to push Oxford forward. He is a thoughtful, determined individual and his attitude is spot on. I’m excited for both him and the squad. It’s exactly what we need to continue our momentum.“
Rumford secured a key target immediately with the signature of Danny Allen, former Leeds Rhinos and Featherstone Rovers half back. 25 year old Allen made his debut for Leeds back in 2008 playing over a dozen games in Super League for the Rhinos. New head coach Rumford commented: "It’s good to have Danny with us, he’s got quality about his game and he adds a lot of experience to our group. I’m delighted he’s with us as his enthusiasm will be great in our environment and I’m looking forward to a hard working pre season with Danny in the squad.”
Allen commented “I’m excited about working with Tim and joining Oxford. I’ve heard good things about the club and I wanted a new challenge. I needed to discuss joining with my family as to make things work, I know it’s going to be demanding. They are right behind me and looking forward to next season. It’s going to need hard graft and commitment and that’s what Tim promised me! “
Rumford concluded on his appointment ,“I would like to say a big thank you to Castleford’s Board and Trustees for their time and faith in my development to date. I’m also very grateful to them allowing me to go after the Oxford job which I’m also proud to have got and I will be focused on building upon a strong culture at Oxford. Instilling more self belief and confidence in everyone will count for a lot in a tough season ahead. I’m totally committed to the progress of the club and players.”
November 24th 2014
Oxford make Double International Forces Swoop
Oxford RL’s recruitment drive continues with the double signing of Jordan Andrade and Jamie Milburn, both forces internationals.
Jordan had the special honour of carrying out the famous Challenge Cup at Wembley, ahead of this year’s final between Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos. The 22 year old who can either play as a back rower or as a prop, has served as a weapons technician at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire for the past five years and will soon be moving down to Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
Jamie who is also a prop and a back rower is a driver comms specialist in the army and has recently relocated to Dalton Barracks, Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
Both Jordan and Jamie have experience of playing with each other when they were selected in the England squad for the 2013 Armed Forces Rugby League World Cup, where they lost out to New Zealand in the semi finals of the tournament by 20 points to 16.
When not playing in the same team, Jamie and Jordan have faced each other for the Army and RAF respectively, with their most recent encounter coming in September when they met in the inter service championships. Jamie came out on top on this occasion with his side winning a nail biting clash by 20 points to 18, to finish in second place in the standings.
Jordan was delighted to have secured a move to Oxford and said “I cant wait to get stuck in. I was really impressed with what the club is trying to achieve when speaking with Ryan and Adrian and I am looking forward to being a part of the future. I just want to show the club and our fans what I can do and am looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
Team Manager Ryan Cousins said “I am really pleased to have secured Jordan’s services, he's an ambitious young man who is determined to succeed and play at a high level and we are looking forward to working with him to help achieve this.”
Jamie was equally delighted to be signing for the Blues and said "This feels the right move for me to kick start my rugby career. I've missed a few years with work and injury since I was at Featherstone Rovers, but getting posted to Oxfordshire has provided a fresh opportunity. I had a couple of offers, but I knew Oxford would be the right move as the club are wanting to head in the same direction as me. It matches my ambitions and has a good record of developing players."
Cousins added "Jamie comes highly recommended and we are all pleased he has decided to continue his rugby league journey with us. Beating off other clubs to secure his signature shows what we are trying to achieve here, his experience will good for the team and both lads I'm sure, will add impact and strength to our forwards."
November 18th 2014
Broncos add Morris for 2015
London Broncos have signed Sean Morris on a one-year full time deal for the 2015 season from Oxford RL.
Morris, 25, played two games for the Broncos at the start of 2014 while on trial. Morris has been with Oxford RL since its formation having switched codes from the 15-man game where he played for Oxford University rugby union club.
Having joined Oxford RL for their first ever season as a club he took the Kingstone Press Championship One season by storm putting in a series of impressive performances in the centres making 14 appearances, scoring seven tries. The best was yet to come and was moved to full-back by the coaching staff for the following season with devastating effect scoring 15 tries in 15 appearances, he was a regular in the Kingstone Press Championship One team of the week and was voted the supporters club player of the year in the 2014 season.
London Broncos head coach Joey Grima is pleased to secure Morris saying: “Sean is a superb athlete and has scored tries for fun with Oxford. He will be a great addition to our squad.
“We are pleased to help give players from clubs in the region an opportunity to perform at a higher level. Oxford have been fantastic to deal with since we first approached them about Morris and we’d like to thank them for their professionalism.”
Oxford RL managing director Adrian Smith said: “We are delighted and excited for Sean to be joining the Broncos. It’s been his ambition to become a full time professional and Oxford RL are proud to have helped him achieve that goal.
“My only surprise is it’s not happened sooner,” continued Smith. “Sean is a southern lad and I hope his signature for the Broncos sends out a clear message to players, that Oxford RL is a club opening up opportunities.
“I see this as a terrific opportunity for Sean and a highly positive way of raising Oxford RL’s profile. Everyone connected to the club and Oxford’s Blue Army wishes Sean every success and we will watch his progress closely, he will always have our support.”
November 14th 2014
Rugby League celebrates achievements of women with first Her RL Association awards night
The captain of the 2014 double-winning women’s team and the RFL’s Head of Participation and Regions were among the winners at the first Her Rugby League Association awards
evening, held during the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters Association Annual Dinner.
Jenny Welsby, of Thatto Heath, was named the Johnson’s Hairdressing Star Player, while Julia Lee won the Kay Ibbetson Award for Outstanding Contribution, presented on the
night by the widow of the late Steve Prescott, Linzi Prescott.
Volunteer of the Year went to Pat Benatmane for her dedication to Hunslet Hawks RLFC, while Club Woman of the Year was Tessa Roddy, of Oxford RL Club. St Helens Girls
section was named the Adele Carr Financial Recruitment Star Club, and the Association’s Her Man of Steel was awarded to Leeds star Jamie Peacock.
Founder member of Her RLA, Angela Powers, said: “We are delighted to, at last, begin to show the world what dedicated and talented women we have involved in the sport of
rugby league. These winners here tonight have worked hard to achieve great things...for their clubs, their teams and for the good of the sport as a whole. The roles they play enrich
our game and we are proud to be able to draw attention to their efforts.”
The Association also launched its fundraising venture, the Pat Price Project, named after a well known and much loved supporter of Widnes Vikings, who passed away last year.
Pat Price was known for her love of and dedication to her club, which she also supported by volunteering. The Pat Price Project will, in 2015, aim to support Birstall Girls U15s as they
raise funds for a schools tour of Australia.
Angela said: “These girls are going on an adventure that will not only help them to enjoy their sport in a new environment, but will also provide them with a life experience that
will stay with them forever, helping them to become more independent and self confident young women. I’m sure that Pat Price herself would have encouraged them to grasp the
chance while they have it.”
On winning club women of the year Tessa said "My award for Club Woman of the Year from Her Rugby League Association was a total shock, receiving acknowledgement for something that I genuinely believe I should be doing. There is an army of female talent who add so much more to rugby league clubs throughout the country."
"I have always actively supported Martin and have been able to utilise my commercial skills from my own career to support Oxford RL in raising much needed income for the club, including sponsorships, raffles and even player themed sweets which also encouraged engagement between players and supporters. Several players based in Cheltenham who had previously played for UGRL have become fixtures in my home, with me providing motivational and emotional support as well as feeding them after training!"
November 10th 2014
Five more Blues re-sign
Oxford RL are pleased to announce the re-signings of 5 players for the 2015 season. Back rower Andrew Hoggins, Prop Tom Davies, Prop or Loose forward Luke Evans,centre Marcus Brooker and hooker Rory Sharratt all put pen to paper.
Team Manager Ryan Cousins said" The club is really pleased to retain key players and Sharratt falls into the senior player status now, he was one of our consistent performers and is turning into a leader, he delivers the ball well and is strong around the ruck."
German international Hoggins has been with the club since the start and an ever present in the match day squad with some outstanding performances that earned him club’s most improved player for 2014.
On his re-signing Andrew said "No question I wasn't going to resign for Oxford for the 3rd year, I'm looking forward to getting started for the next season. The new league structure looks exciting as well and we will be tested against some of the more experienced clubs coming down. We finished last season positively and I was delighted to receive the most improved player award."
Ryan Cousins, Team Manager was delighted to retain Hoggins, “Andrew was one of our most consistent performers last year putting in some fantastic displays and fully deserved his recognition. This year he will be one of the senior players in the squad and I am looking forward to seeing him kick on to the next level.”
Meanwhile Davies who joined the club in 2014 from the Coventry Bears made 15 appearances in his debut season and did not look out of place when going up against more experienced campaigners. Tom will be hoping to have a happy reunion when he tackles his old side in the first game of the new Kingstone Press League One season on Good Friday.
On signing his new contract Tom said “I am really privileged to re-sign and delighted to be given the chance to further improve for Oxford. I hope to make a bigger impact and keep myself in the first team."
Cousins said “Tom has really impressed me since he joined the club, his attitude has been spot on and is always looking to improve his own performance and regularly asks the coaching team how he can take it to the next level. On the field he always gives 100% and always does what is being asked of him. Tom's got a good engine and will take the ball up all day.”
Luke Evans has been with the Blues since the club’s formation and following a recovery from a broken ankle he struck back with a bang last season, making 8 appearances from his less favoured position as prop.
Evans was delighted to have earned another contract at the club and said “I am looking forward to continuing where I left off last season and felt I was just getting going by having a regular run in the team which I really enjoyed. I can't wait to get started in what will be a tough league but I am looking forward to the challenges ahead."
Cousins said “Securing Luke's services again is great, he's shown he's a tough determined character to have come back from a horrible injury. He didn't let it affect him and put in some fantastic performances in an un-natural position for him and more than held his own.”
Centre Marcus Brooker was an ever present last season after joining from local rivals the All Golds and on his re-signing Brooker said “I am very happy to be back at the club for a second season, it was a very easy decision for me after last year. My main aim for this season is to carry on improving game by game and make as much of an impact in every game as I can."
Cousins commented “It’s fantastic to have secured Marcus again, another local talent who really impressed me with his consistency and chipped in with some valuable tries. I'm confident Marcus' game will grow.
Cousins concluded “All five signings are important members of our squad, good lads on and off the field and their loyalty to the team and the cause is a credit to them and We are all looking forward to working with them once again.”
November 4th 2014
Ireland International re-signs for the Blues
Oxford Rugby League are delighted to announce the re-signing of Ireland International Graham O’Keeffe. Having joined the club from Limerick Treaty Titans, he made 8 appearances for the Blues last season. A back rower by trade, O'Keeffe filled in at prop for a large number of games to help with the club’s injury crises.
O’Keeffe was selected for Ireland’s European Championship campaign for the first time and was 18th man in Ireland’s victory against France by 22 points to 12. The following week saw him make his full International debut when his side took on Scotland. Unfortunately Ireland lost 25 points to 4 but Graham impressed in the game. He was also 18th man once again when Ireland beat Wales in Wrexham last Sunday by 46 points to 14.
Graham was delighted to have re-signed for the club for another season and said “I really enjoyed my time at the club last season, there are some great people at the club and we have a real family environment down here. I am really looking forward to the fresh start next season and will be working hard to repay the faith the club has shown me.”
Team Manager Ryan Cousins said “I am really pleased that Graham has decided to continue his rugby league journey with us for next season. He has shown great attitude and promise and really came into his own last season when he was given an extended run in the team and put in some impressive performances. I am looking forward to seeing how he goes next season after having a year under his belt at this level.”
November 3rd 2014
University round up: Oxford Brookes RL
There may be a lack of on field action at the moment with Oxford RL but the University sports scene is in full swing. Oxford Brookes University Rugby League teams are in the early stages of their competition.
Brookes lost a number of players in the summer due to graduation, so the team went on a recruitment drive at the freshers fair and signed up 40 players. This has enabled them to put out two sides again this year in the BUCS Midlands 2A league. Under the watchful eye of Oxford RL’s Wes Newton, the first team currently sit top of the league having played 3 and won 3. Their most recent win coming last Wednesday away to Nottingham Trent, by an impressive 40 points to 14. This came on the back of a 22 points to 20 win away to Lincoln and a massive home victory against the University of Nottingham by 106 points to 4.
The 1st team now have earned a couple of weeks off before they get back into action with an intriguing matchup against the University of Oxford 2’s. The second team started their season off with an away loss to Coventry University by 30 points to 12 and will be hoping to bounce back when they entertain the University of Nottingham in two weeks time.
Speaking about his side's start to the season Oxford Brookes head coach Wes Newton said "So far I have been impressed with the professional attitude the lads have shown towards the game. Everything I have taught them, they have taken on board and in such a short period of time. As soon as I saw the fixture list this season, I knew we had to go out each week with the confidence to win the league and so far we have."
"We have a couple of weeks off until we play local rivals Oxford University, which should be a cracking game. The lads are improving week on week and I believe that I have a special group of players here and can only see success in the future. It's only been 3 games and we won't get ahead of ourselves, but our aim from the start of the season was to win the league and we are definitely on course. But there is a long way to go, so we will keep working hard and see where that effort take us."
October 30th 2014
Oxford Rugby League require Physiotherapist
This post, including evening, weekend and bank holiday work, provides an exciting opportunity to join the medical team of a semi-professional Rugby League team.
The successful candidate will work alongside the Club Doctors and Strength and Conditioning Coach to provide injury diagnosis, management, prevention and rehabilitation.
Working with Oxford RL, general duties will include:
• Provide Match Day Care For All First Team Fixtures (including away travel)
• Assessment and Rehabilitation Of Injured Players
• Input Into The Development and Implementation of all Screening, Monitoring and Injury Prevention Programmes
• Collation of All Relevant Injury Data
• Appropriate Record Keeping Of All Physiotherapy Interventions
You will ideally have experience within a professional rugby or equivalent professional sporting environment.
Effective communication and inter-personal skills are crucial to this role. A RFL IMOFFP Qualification would be desirable, as would a comprehensive CPD Portfolio with a sports medicine / sports physiotherapy bias.
The post-holder will be a qualified Chartered Physiotherapist, and a registered member of The Health Professions Council.
We will offer a competitive wage and Oxford branded kit.
Anyone interested in the post should send their CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
October 26th 2014
Coach Stepping Down
Today Oxford RL announce news on the club’s head coach. Tony Benson is having to reluctantly step down from duties as head coach due to personal circumstances.
“It’s been a tough decision for both Tony and the club and one that has had to have been accepted with a heavy heart”, said Managing Director Adrian Smith. “Tony’s been a life-long friend and he has done a sterling job from day one. He’s got the gratitude of everyone for his work, as he’s helped put Oxford RL on the map.”
Smith concluded “Just to reassure the supporters, the board has plans in place for taking up the coaching duties and continuing the squad’s progress. But in the meantime, I’m sure all will join me in wishing Tony the best of luck and we are in discussions with him as to how we can keep him involved at the club.”
October 19th 2014
Smith and Cousins looking forward to historic clash
Oxford RL will travel to Coventry Bears in the first Kingstone Press League 1 game of the 2015 campaign, on Friday 3rd April. Managing Director Adrian Smith said 'Fixture releases always generate interest for fans and clubs alike and I know it will be especially exciting for Coventry, as I can recall our expectation two years ago with our very first match.'
Smith added,'Oxford RL are delighted and honoured to be part of Coventry Bears history, sharing their inaugural game in Kingstone Press League 1. Every game is a tough one this year and being a young club ourselves and meeting the new kids on the block, will hopefully draw a lot of eyes to the fixture. I’m sure it will be a terrific day for the development of rugby league in the south of England.” concluded Smith.
Team Manager, Ryan Cousins, added it doesn’t quite fall into the territory of a derby match but I know it will be a very competitive match, as will every game this season. Right from the very start of the season the words every minute counts will be so true for all teams. It was tough league last season and we are fully aware it will be even tougher this season with the sides coming down and the adding of Coventry but we will be ready for it and are looking to the challenges ahead. I have no doubt that we will shock a few teams if they underestimate us.'
Cousins said 'The Bears will be wanting to roar and the Mighty Blues will want to hunt them down and I'm sure the Legendary Blue Army will make their presence felt on the occasion. It’s always exciting when the fixtures come out and you start looking forward to seeing the draw but the most important thing is that we look and build towards our first game and arrive at it as a decent unit and get the campaign off to a good start.'
Look out for Oxford RL Early Bird season ticket offers coming out this November
2015 - A New Era
The 2015 season promises to be the most exciting in living memory. The changes to the structure of the competitions will ensure that every minute, of every match, in every competition matters, League 1 promises to be no different.
Kingstone Press League 1 2015 Line up
Gloucestershire All Golds
North Wales Crusaders
South Wales Scorpions
York City Knights
How will the new structure work for League 1
The 14 League 1 clubs will each play 22 games – 11 home and 11 away, playing each other once and nine teams twice with fixtures scheduled on a geographical basis. At the end of the regular season 1st will play 2nd with the winner promoted to the Championship as champions. The loser of that match will join the teams which finished 3rd, 4th and 5th in a play-offs series as follows: loser of the promotion decider v 5th, and 3rd v 4th. The winners of those semi-finals will contest a play-off final to determine the second promotion place.
In addition, a League 1 Cup competition will be reintroduced in 2015 consisting of 16 teams – the 14 League 1 clubs plus the 2014 National Conference League Grand Final winners and the 2014 RFL Conference Challenge Cup winners.
The competition will be a straight knockout with the early rounds played at the start of the season. The first round will be an open draw grouped by geography with a straight open draw thereafter. It is proposed that the final will be played at the ‘home team’ venue rather than a neutral venue but this is still to be confirmed.
Teams in 7th and 8th in the Championship Shield are relegated to League 1 the following season.
The RFL have produced an explanatory video which can be found at the below link.
30th September 2014
Harrington represents London South in the Origin series
Jonny Harrington from Bartholomew School was selected to represent Oxford in the London South side against London North in the origin series that finished down in Medway on Saturday 27th September.
The Hard Rock Cafe London Origin Series is a representative programme designed to recognise and reward the best “Talent now” playing in the Liontrust London Youth & Junior Leagues.
Based loosely on the Australian “State of Origin” series, the 20 highest performing players representing clubs North of the Thames compete in a three-match series against the 20 highest performing players at clubs South of the Thames at Under 12 through to Under 19.
The series gives players an opportunity to play in a high quality training and playing environment, and also offers coaches an opportunity to develop on the coaching pathway.
The Hard Rock Cafe Origin Series is a high quality representative opportunity for junior players in London and surrounding areas, but is only one method by which players are identified for future performance programmes
Unfortunately the London South side lost the series 3-0 against a strong London North side but will have gained a lot of experience from the series and will aim to impress once again next year if he is selected once more.
All at Oxford RL would like to say well done to Jonny and all the coaches who have worked with him and we look forward to hearing about more players from the Oxford area getting into the origin teams in the future.
The futures bright the futures blue
July 30th 2014
Thunder prove too much for Oxford
Gateshead Thunder 48 Oxford RLFC 28
By Adam Gray
Gateshead Thunder moved up to fifth place in Kingstone Press Championship One, keeping their playoff dreams alive, after beating Oxford by 20 points at Gateshead International Stadium.
The Tyneside club, who played Oxford twice previously this season beating them on both occasions, were hoping to make it three from three in front of the Thunder faithful.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 13th minute courtesy of an Alex Thompson try. Jimmy Rowland stepped up to take the conversion, but missed.
Joe Brown then crossed the whitewash for Thunder in the 21st minute. Benn Hardcastle, on loan from Championship One rivals, York City Knights, slotted the first of eight conversions.
In the 25th minute, Hardcastle extended Thunder’s lead with a try of his own, which he converted.
The pendulum swung in the other direction, and it was Oxford who scored next. Michael Crabtree took advantage of a poor Thunder defence to score in the 30th minute. Rowland, again, struggled to add the extras.
However, in the 37th minute, Rowland scored and slotted the kick, putting his side into the lead, 12-14.
Hardcastle scored his second try of the afternoon on the stroke of half-time, which he coolly converted. The tables had turned, and it was Thunder who headed to the sheds leading 18-14.
The second half was filled with as much action as the first for Thunder. Captain Jason Payne bagged two tries; dual registered, Sonny Esslemont, crossed over; Josh Stoker touched down a day after his 22nd birthday; and Joe Hodgson scored his first for the club.
Oxford had their fair share of the action too. Tries from Sean Morris, Yannic Parker and Marcus Brooker gave the visitors hope, but Thunder’s attacking threat proved all too much, and it was the home side who ran out convincing winners.
July 25th 2014
Our Kingstone Press Championship One fixture away to the London Skolars will now take place on Saturday 9th August at Hemel Stags, Pennine Way ground with a 2pm kick off.
Initially this was set to be the first fixture on the new 4g pitch at the White Hart Lane Community Stadium but delays in the construction process have meant that this game and the Friday Night Lights clash with Hunslet Hawks have had to be rearranged.
Enfield Town had offered to help by staging the game against Oxford despite having their opening Ryman League fixture 24 hours earlier but for a number of logistical reasons this proved to be impractical and Hemel’s Bob Brown offered his Club’s venue. Unfortunately with the Stags having a home fixture of their own on Sunday 10th August it was necessary to bring the game against the Skolars forward by a day.
Skolars’ Commercial Manager Pat Cluskey said, “Unfortunately the change in venue from White Hart Lane is something beyond our control and I’d like to apologise to our fans who will be faced with having to travel to a third ‘home’ ground this season.
“I’d also like to thank Oxford, Hemel and Enfield Town and their respective officials for their help in finalising the venue for this game and hope that all fans have an enjoyable afternoon on August 9th”
July 25th 2014
New structure to usher in exciting new era for Rugby League
Full details of the exciting new league structure that will come into operation in 2015 for Rugby League’s professional and semi-professional competitions have been outlined today.
From next season the First Utility Super League and Kingstone Press Championship will both feature 12 clubs, whilst Kingstone Press Championship One will be renamed as Kingstone Press League 1 and comprise 14 clubs.
RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood said: “The changes will ensure that every minute of every match in every competition matters and are being implemented following the most comprehensive consultation process in the sport’s history.
“The return of promotion and relegation in a format that is financially sustainable for all clubs should ensure fans are entertained from February to October, with an exciting season punctuated by a series of world-class events commencing with the World Club Challenge and finishing at Old Trafford with the Super League Grand Final.”
Super League and Championship clubs will each play 23 matches in the regular season – home and away against the other clubs in their respective competitions plus Magic Weekend or Summer Bash.
At the end of the regular season, Super League and the Championship will split into the Super 8s, three groups of eight clubs based on league positions called Super League, The Qualifiers and Championship Shield.
Super League features the top eight Super League clubs; The Qualifiers comprises Super League clubs nine to 12 plus the top four Championship clubs; and the Championship Shield features Championship clubs five to 12.
The Super 8s will be played on a seven match mini-league basis, and will largely determine the make-up of Super League and the Championship the following season.
In Super League, all eight clubs are guaranteed top flight status for the following year whilst the top four will contest a play-off series - 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd, with the winner going through to the title-deciding Grand Final.
In The Qualifiers, the top three clubs after seven matches will play in Super League the following season with the final place determined by the Million Pound Game, a play-off between the clubs finishing 4th and 5th. The loser of the match will join the three remaining clubs from The Qualifiers and six Championship Shield clubs in the Championship the following season.
In the Championship Shield, the top four clubs with contest a play-off series with the winners contesting the Championship Shield final. The bottom two teams in the Championship Shield will be relegated to League 1.
The 14 League 1 clubs will each play 22 games – 11 home and 11 away, playing each other once and nine teams twice with fixtures scheduled on a geographical basis. At the end of the regular season 1st will place 2nd with the winner promoted to the Championship as champions. The loser of that match will join the teams that finished 3rd, 4th and 5th in a play-off to determine the second promotion spot.
The 14 League 1 clubs will also be joined by the 2014 National Conference League Grand Final winners and the 2014 RFL Conference Challenge Cup winners in a new knockout competition played at the start of the season.
To allow for the changes to the league structure, the top eight Super League clubs will join the Challenge Cup at the sixth round stage, with League 1 clubs entering at Round 3, Championship clubs at Round 4 and the bottom four Super League clubs at Round 5.
Full details of the new league structure and what it means for all clubs can be found on the RFL, First Utility Super League and Kingstone Press Championship websites by following the links below:
July 23rd 2014
Oxford unveil latest local talent
When Oxford RL travelled down to South Wales a couple of weekends ago to take on the scorpions, another local player was unleashed for his debut in the shape of Ed Vickers. Vickers only joined the club in April, at the end of the rugby union season, completing his playing duties for Chinnor RFC, where he made 21 league appearances scoring one try in the match against Shelford. Ed's efforts helping them avoid relegation, as they finished one place above the relegation places after their dramatic final day win against Exmouth.
Ed's rugby league introduction was fast tracked into the first team after some impressive displays for the Oxford Cavaliers and got the nod when Karl Temata failed a late fitiness test, ahead of the trip to South Wales.
What did Ed think ahead of the game "My first game for Oxford RL is the first time I have ever experienced nerves before and during a game, as I was very eager to make a good impression. When I first got the call up to play, I was extremely excited to be pulling the Oxford RL shirt on for the first time and couldnt wait to get on the pitch and give it my best."
Ed helped the blues to a 36 points to 16 win down in Maesteg and put in a powerful display in a 25 minute appearance. On making his debut Ed said "After the game I was proud to have been part of the win especially after the long trip to Wales." We asked Ed what he thought of this level considering he has only played conference footie in his short spell in rugby league so far. "The speed of the play is mind blowing and there is a high standard on off loading and ball handling skills from all positions."
"I have loved my time at Oxford RL and the boys have been extremely welcoming. The squad is full of both talent and experience, with everyone being so open and helpful when it comes to giving advie at training and I am looking forward to contributing in the team when called on by Tony (Benson)."
Oxford coach Tony Benson was pleased to have Ed on boardand said "He has been looking at coming along for a while now and has picked it up really well considering he has only been with us since the end of April. He has fitted into our system really well and has put in some very strong performances for the second team already this season. Chinnor have got him into really good shape so he was match fit when he came to us and it was just a case of fine turning his rugby league techiniques, which he has picked up really quickly. He deserved his chance against the scorpions and I thought he did not look out of place at all."
July 23rd 2014
Lucky fan to represent Oxford at Wembley
The RFL recently launched a competition to find a flag bearer for every club taking part in this year's Challenge Cup.
After a draw took place between all members at the club the honour has fell to Steve Jones to represent Oxford at this year’s showpiece event on the 23rd August.
As in previous years, the two finalists of this year’s cup final will be greeted by flags from all 81 clubs, which took part in the competition when they run onto the pitch ahead of the big kick-off.
Now Steve will step out on the hallow turf and play his part in the most iconic rugby league match of the season and hold aloft a large flag adorned with the Oxford badge.
Steve was delighted to be representing the club and said “I was absolutely thrilled when I was told, it will be an honour to represent our great club at the showcase of the Challenge Cup Final.”
“As a Warringtonian it would be great to see the wolves there but I will still be wearing my Oxford RL shirt with pride and maybe a primrose and blue hat!”
“I was a bit lonely at Iffley Road last season but this year there are a few more of us which has seen the formation of the Oxford supporters club and I know any one of us would have been proud to represent the club.”
July 21st 2014
Bartholomew School continue Rugby League development
The majority of Bartholomew School students broke up for the summer holidays on Friday 18th July, but rather than celebrate the beginning of six weeks of lesson free days, the newly formed rugby league squad got an early night ahead of a busy weekend.
The squad have been continuing to train over the final few weeks of term to prepare themselves for their first 13-a-side festival having only played one competitive game of rugby league previously. The festival took place at the Colosseum, the home of St Albans Centurions and featured the home side as well as Elmbridge Eels. Bartholomew were first up against the Centurions and after a few early handling errors, the hosts took advantage and raced into an 8-0 lead. Some strong running from forwards Josh Brookes, Declan Ross and Elliot Redgard gave the visitors some good field position and the ball was sent out wide to Jack Judson who raced 60 metres, breaking three attempted tackles down the touchline to score under the posts. Ollie Walsh added the extras to make the scores 8-6 to the Centurions. There was some late pressure applied by Bartholomew players Marcus Reading and Jay Revill but unfortunately time had run out as the full time whistle sounded, they had lost by two points to the eventual overall winners of the festival.
Bartholomew were beaten for a second time this season in the return fixture against Brentwood Eels who have gone from strength to strength since the first fixture at Iffley Road earlier in the year. There was some excellent defensive performances from hooker Jonny Harrington and debutant Louis Vaughan but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Eels from running away with the victory. The festival was excellent experience for Bartholomew RL and should prepare them well for their final group stages of the Hampshire Youth League on Sunday 20th July.
Bartholomew RL from left to right, back row Maks Urbaniak, Jay Revill, Lukas Shajko, Ollie Walsh, Archie Hamilton, Jack Judson. Front row Jonny Harrington, Josh Brookes, Marcus Reading (captain) Elliot Redgard, Louis Vaughan and Declan Ross.
Bartholomew RL, Brentwood Eels and St Albans Centurions
July 11th 2014
On the road game this Sunday
Due to planned pitch renovation works at Iffley Road, this Sunday's fixture against the York City Knights is being played at Henley Hawks Rugby Club, Dry Leas, Henley, RG9 2AJ www.henleyhawks.co.uk
Please see below on how to get to the stadium by car or train.
By car :- Head out of Oxford At Heyford Hill roundabout take the 4th exit onto the A4074, At Berinsfield Roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A4074, At Crowmarsh roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A4130, At Nettlebed Roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A4130 (Heley), At mini-roundabout turn left onto the A4155 you will then see rugby club.
By Train :- Only one both ways
Oxford =1105 to Twyford =1155
Twyford = 1243 to Henley =1255
Henley = 1807 to Twyford = 1819
Twyfrod =1838 to Oxford = 1931
Adult £12.10 Child £6.06
We sincerely apologise if you were not aware of this change in venue, but it was confirmed in March and we have tried to inform everyone through as many channels as possible since then.
We hope to see as many of you down at Dry Leas to support the boys.
May 28th 2014
Temata turns blue
Oxford are delighted to announce the signing of former London Broncos prop Karl Temata on a short term deal until the end of the season.
Temata started his career at the New Zealand Warriors where he made 52 appearances, scoring 2 tries during his time with them between 2002 and 2005. He then made the move over to join the London Broncos/Harlequins and spent the next 8 seasons with the London outfit quickly becoming a crowd favourite during his time there and was named the club’s player of the year in 2009. He went on to make 137 appearances and scored 11 tries.
The 2013 season saw Temata move over to France and join the Limoux Grizzlies before becoming player/coach of the team the following season. Under his leadership, Limoux progressed to the quarter finals where they ended up playing Villeneuve XIII but in a closely fought match they went down by 28 points to 21 to end their season early.
Karl has also played for the Cook Islands and represented them in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup staring in all 3 group games whilst scoring a try in the Cook Islands 38-6 defeat by Wales in Wrexham.
As well as playing, Karl will also be joining Tony Benson’s backroom staff to help on the coaching side of things to pass his vast experience onto the current crop of players.
On Karl’s move to the club, Oxford coach Tony Benson said “I coached him over in NZ and we have been in touch ever since. I appreciate that he has come to us when he had other offers on the table."
"Im really excited to have him here as he is a quality player and very experienced, that's why I have brought him over as player/coach to also assist me and Martin Roddy."
"He will help the younger players with their learning like Matty Hadden, Tom Davies and Chris Clarke. Also he will help the players coming through from the second team."
"He is a big strong lad, has a great pass, and is a extremely solid defender, who can play in a number of positions on the field. He's a top bloke who will do a lot to improve the make up of our team and help take us to the next level as we are just lacking that little bit of experience in the side."
Karl was looking forward to the challenge ahead and said "Im really pleased to be here and Im looking forward to playing some footie, I wanted to help Tony out just as he did with me at the start of my career.
I want to pass some of my experience onto the younger players and help develop their game to push them onto the next level as they are a enthusiastic bunch down here who want to learn."
All at Oxford RL would like to welcome Karl to the club
May 28th 2014
Away day out with the ORL Blue Army
If you would like to follow the team up and down the country then now you can as Mark Shaw is running trips to the following away games.
Sun 22 June -v- All Gold = £12
Sat 05 July -v- South Wales = £17
Sun 03 Aug -v- Hunslet = £20
Sun 10 Aug -v- London Skolars = £12
If you like to book your seat please call Mark on 07819284327.
If you book on one you get 15% off your next away day. Seats are limited so do not miss out.
(come on you blues)
May 21st 2014
Historic milestone for rugby league in the city
The weekend of May 17th/18th was a proud moment for rugby league in Oxfordshire, when 5 sides and 80 players took to the field.
First up on the Saturday saw Oxford Cavaliers put out two sides for the first time in their history, with the conference south team running out 44-18 winners against the Bristol Sonics, recording back to back wins after their victory against the Valley Cougars. The West of England side ended up losing 40 points to 6 against Cheltenham Old Pats.
Also on Saturday saw Bartholomew School with their Under 12’s (Year 7’s) representing Oxford in the Hampshire Youth League. They won their first ever fixture 3 tries to 2 against a strong Southampton Spitfires club side. The second fixture was played against a Winchester side which was made up of a mixture of Winchester Wessex Bears and Coxford Tigers. Despite a spirited effort by Bartholomew the opposition took the game 5 tries to 2.
On Sunday saw another first with a double header against the South Wales Scorpions.. Fans were treated to the first ever junior club rugby league match in Oxfordshire with the U19’s in action for the very first time. For at least five of the Oxford side, it was their first ever game of Rugby League and for the rest, it was a step-up from playing the odd Champion Schools game. They can be proud of their efforts despite going down 52-12 to vastly experienced opposition who have been playing together for over a year now. This was followed by the seniors in action who had 12 local based players in their match day squad with two making their full debuts. The home side ran out 40 points to 24 winners to secure their fourth win out of seven outings in Kingstone Press Championship One so far.
Oxford MD Adrian Smith was delighted with the progress and said “To put out 80 players in 4 different teams without anyone doubling up is absolutely magnificent. In the shape of only 18 months it touches the realms of incredible. We have some truly determined people who have made it happen and I am confident this is just the beginning of things and I am looking forward to the future.”
Oxford Coach Tony Benson said “We saw two players in the shape of Jack Briggs and Luke Evans make their first team debuts yesterday and did extremely well. They have been a year in the making to get to that point.”
“There are another crop of players coming through having just joined us from Rugby Union clubs and we are confident they will soon be knocking on the door for first team action. There is always an opportunity for players to come down and give it a go.”
With the U16’s, women’s team and touch league also starting in the next month, we could soon be talking about doubling that number in the very near future.
All this is further evidence of the remarkable work which the club and dedicated staff and volunteers have been doing in the city and surrounding areas. This whilst keeping true to their aim when they first entered into the professional rugby league structure back in October 2012, by saying that “They will represent the whole of the Oxfordshire area and the intention is to make it a local team managed by local people. With the club wanting to get the game played within the schools and colleges of Oxford, whilst playing at a decent level, it will represent a great success for the game.”
The weekend certainly went a long way to showing what can be done in a short space of time, with the future looking extremely positive for not only the club and city but also the game in the south. The future's bright, the future's Blue!
May 19th 2014
Oxford too hot for the Scorpions
Oxford continued their good run of recent home form by ruthlessly dispatching of bottom place the South Wales Scorpions to move back into fifth place in Kingstone Press Championship One, just one point behind the Hemel Stags who they face next week down at Pennine Way.
The home side recovered from conceding an early try to the scorpions to go in at half time 22-12 to the good before a quick fire double just after half time saw Oxford pull away from the visitors and despite a late double from the Scorpions pair of Connor Farrer and Matthew Wilcox to bring the match back to within 10 points. Oxford captain Alex Thompson scored his second of the match late on to send the visitor’s home without a losing bonus point.
On the win Oxford coach Tony Benson was delighted with the performance but felt there was more to come from his side.
“We played some really good attacking rugby today and it was a pleasure to see that. I thought our decision making was fantastic and I don’t think we realise how good we are at times. We are really improving week on week both individually and as a team. We had 13 locally based players in the squad today, with Jack Briggs and Luke Evans making their full first team debuts today and it just shows what fantastic work we are doing down here.”
“I thought at times we gave away the ball too easily and put ourselves under unnecessary pressure and conceded some soft tries. We tried to score on every play and part of the game is about building pressure and if we do that then the points will come.”
On the opposition Benson was full of praise for the scorpions and said “A lot of credit needs to go to South Wales as they showed some good stuff in the game and were quite competitive, and there performances are really improving week on week and I really believe that their first win is just around the corner.”
May 12th 2014
Oxford RL player Jonny Morris had the honour of leading his side out as captain for the first time of the University of Leeds against Leeds Met in the 2014 Varsity game.
The match which took place on Friday 2nd May, was part of the 150 years of rugby in Leeds celebrations and acted as a curtain raiser for one of the biggest Super League games of the season, in the shape of Leeds Rhinos vs Wigan Warriors.
Morris is no stranger to the Varsity scene, as this was his third appearance during his time at the University. The previous two results had gone against his side and he was looking for a change of fortune this time.
Crowds of students from both universities gathered to support the teams as they watched the University of Leeds take an early lead at 10-0 up in the first 10 minutes. Leeds Met managed to claw back the advantage however, ending the first half 24 points to 16 up. In the second half Leeds Met put in a dominant performance illustrating why they have been BUCS champions for nine years in a row. The final score ended 44-20 to Leeds Met.
On the game Jonny said "The first 50 minutes were insane and the speed of the game was incredible, but after that we couldn't keep up and they were too fit and ground us down up the middle and in the end pulled away. But we managed to put 20 points on them this year, something only Loughborough have managed to do this season, so we can be extremely proud of our efforts."
What did Jonny make of playing at Headingley? "It is such a quality place to play, nice pitch and is always nice to see friends and family watching. It was even more special playing the curtain raiser before the Leeds and Wigan game."
This was his last game for the University but what an occasion to bow out on and now Oxford will be looking forward to welcoming him back, to help with their push towards the play-offs in Kingstone Press Championship One.
May 5th 2014
Oxford RL Capture Goldy !
One of Super League’s most consistent performers and colourful characters, Ryan McGoldrick was captured by Oxford RL last week. Goldy, as he was lovingly known by the Super League team Castleford Tigers fans, has been tempted by Tony Benson to play and share his wisdom of the game with Benson’s promising young squad.
Australian McGoldrick started his professional career with Cronulla Sharks before arriving in the UK to play for Castleford Tigers, Hull and Salford Red Devils. “Goldy has always been a popular figure in the game with both the fans and the media, as he’s a real character“ said Benson, “but it’s his knowledge and reading of the game I’m after, to help bring on my backline.”
Ryan spent six and a half seasons with Cas Tigers, scooping the Player of the Year award on a number of occasions. A strong runner with a good kicking game has brought him international honours in rugby union with the Wallabies in the World 7's and through parentage he played for the US Tomahawks, helping them qualify for the recent Rugby League World Cup.
Benson added “I believe where we are right now at Oxford offers Goldy a unique opportunity to help guide developing players to become better professional rugby league player. He clearly loves the game and can see the reward in giving something back to it and the boys are looking forward to being with Goldy.”
McGoldrick commented “ I’m really pleased to have got the call from Tony, I’ve still got the desire to play and if I can help some young players develop from my experience all the better. It’s more about the Oxford team development and how I can contribute and help the lads reach that goal. They are a pretty enthusiastic bunch hungry to learn”
Oxford’s MD Adrian Smith also praised McGoldrick’s signature “ It’s smart thinking by TB and as life-long Cas fan I’ve watched Ryan play many times and I admired his skill and the loyalty he gave to the Tigers when they were relegated to NL1 and Super League and NRL clubs chased him. Ryan stuck with Cas and the fans appreciated that loyalty and I’m delighted he’s decided to join us as I know it will be beneficial for both Oxford and Goldy, He’s a good bloke as well as a an dynamic player, I can see our players and fans appreciating his contribution and style of game.”
Ryan will make his home debut on 18th May against South Wales Scorpions who helped produce another rugby league “Iffley Thriller” last year.
May 5th 2014
Highway to Hemel
If you would like to see Oxford RL away at rivals Hemel Stags on Sunday 25th May then you can as Mark Shaw is taking a minibus to this one.
Bus to Hemel will set off from the Fir Tree Pub, Iffley Road at 12:00, to get to Hemel for about 13:15/13:30 and will depart after the game at 17:00 to arrive back at the Fir Tree for about 18:00/18:15. Places are limited so do not miss out, Cost of travel will be £15, match ticket will need to be brought separately.
For more info please call Mark Shaw (bulldog) on 07812984327
April 30th 2014
INCLUSIVE FORMAT OF RUGBY LEAGUE LAUNCHES IN OXFORD.
Oxford Rugby League is bringing an ‘Extraordinary’ new format of Rugby League to Oxfordshire. The game offers all the thrill, excitement and camaraderie of the traditional game but without the high impact tackling. Oxford Rugby League is recruiting players now and inviting anybody interested in giving it a try to go along to Oxford RFC, North Hinksey, North Hinksey Lane, OX2 0NA, on Wednesday 21st May for a 7PM start.
Play Touch Rugby League has been designed by the RFL to make playing the sport much more accessible to a wider audience.
Just like in the traditional format of the game, team’s score by grounding the ball over the opposition’s try line. Teams must also pass the ball backwards and have six opportunities to score. To stop the opposition from scoring, a player must touch, rather than tackle, the player on the ball. After six touches, the attacking team must pass the ball to the defending team who then has six new scoring opportunities.
Tony Colquitt, CEO of Oxford RL says: “The game is every bit as thrilling to play as the traditional format. In fact, in some cases it can be faster and more engaging because a touch results in less down time than a full contact tackle. Players are much less likely to suffer an injury than they are in the full contact game but have the same opportunity to improve their fitness and enjoy all the social benefits of being a part of a team.”
Play Touch Rugby League games take place across two, 20 minute halves. Each team has a maximum of 12 players, both male and female with five or six players on the field at any one time. You are permitted to make as many substitutions as you like.
Tony Benson, Head Coach of Oxford RL adds: “Almost anybody can get involved in Play Touch Rugby League. Locally, I am really hoping to attract more women into the sport and also to tempt ex full contact rugby league players back into playing. People should not be put off if they do not feel physically fit. Everybody has to start somewhere and we can all work on fitness together.”
Sessions start on Wednesday, 21st May at 7PM. If you are interested in getting involved please call JJ Baird on 07933481079 or visit http://www.playtouchrugbyleague.co.uk for more information.
• Play Touch Rugby League is an official product of the RFL and is delivered under Licence by Licensees across the UK
• Play Touch Rugby League is based on four key principles
o It’s social and fun
o It can fit in to a busy lifestyle
o It is inclusive and can be played by men and women, young and old, those who have played rugby league in the past and those who have not
• Play Touch Rugby League is part of the RFL’s strategy to get more people involved in the sport
April 26th 2014
Oxford RL 100 Club winner
Congratulations to Philip Kingsland who became Oxford RL's first ever winner of the 100 Club.
The draw takes place on the last Friday of each month and upon echoing his team's winning streak, Phil reacted "Wow! This is a real surprise, I mean I always hoped I would get lucky - but I certainly didn't expect to win this fast!"
"This comes in perfect timing, as I'm travelling Europe now. I might use the prize money to buy my girlfriend a little something... then again, perhaps not..."
The 100 Club scheme is aimed to help Oxford RL with the mission "to spread rugby league in Oxfordshire and the surrounding area" and terrific fan support like Phil's, combined with the team's recent great wins on the pitch means we are achieving our aims.
Phil added "Would I recommend the 100 Club to another friend? Well, clearly yes, although £125 return on £5 a month spent is a no brainer, it also helps that regardless of the outcome, my money went to helping our great club get stronger!"
Managing Director Adrian Smith responded "It's heart warming to get such a vote of support from a fan like Phil. Fans are the lifeblood of any club and to get this kind of reaction from a proud fan who is being part of the team is amazing! This positive reaction reflects the lads recent results and can only help us achieve our goals together, fans and players! "
For details of how to join the Oxford RL 100 Club see and download the PDF click here
Phil (winner) with his partner Kayla, currently enjoying some time out in Budapest.
April 23rd 2014
Gold star from Benson
Oxford coach Tony Benson was delighted with his team’s performance in Good Friday’s local derby against the University of Gloucestershire All Golds as they made it back to back wins in Kingstone Press Championship One for the first time in over 12 months and moved up to 5th place in the standings in the process.
“It was an arm wrestle in the first half, and we knew it would be as they are a really good side, so I was pleased to go in at half time on level terms. We made a couple of individual mistakes to give them some tries but I was encouraged with the way we battled back from 10 nil down early on and that we refused to panic and just continued with playing our game.”
“In the second half we dominated play and scored some really well worked tries and in fairness could have scored a few more,
I was disappointed with the try we conceded at the end as it would have been nice to keep them scoreless in the second half as I felt the scoreline did not do the performance justice.”
“Another pleasing factor was that we are sharing the tries around as a team and on Friday saw Tommo not at 100% as he was unwell and Sean struggling with a hamstring injury and everyone stepped up as a squad, in the end it was really hard to pick a man of the match and that is a testament of how we played.”
“Our performances have been improving week on week and we continued where we left off against York which is really pleasing and the players are growing in confidence all the time which I am really delighted with to see how far we have all come in such a short space in time.”
April 23rd 2014
Kingstone Press Championship One Team of the Week
1 James Haynes (York City Knights)
2 Mo Agoro (Oldham)
3 James Saltonstall (York City Knights)
4 Callum Mulkeen (Oxford)
5 Michael Crabtree (Oxford)
6 Jymel Coleman (Hemel Stags)
7 Danny Ansell (Hunslet Hawks)
8 James Houston (Hunslet Hawks)
9 Martyn Smith (London Skolars)
10 Rob Thomas (London Skolars)
11 Danny Langtree (Oldham)
12 Jason Payne (Gateshead Thunder)
13 Brendon Smith (Gloucestershire All Golds)
April 15th 2014
Benson thrilled with York win
Oxford coach Tony Benson was full of praise for his team after they shocked the York City Knights 24-16 at the Huntington Stadium on Sunday.
“It was a really good win for us, and the way we did it shows we’re starting to establish ourselves at this level. We were the only ones who thought we could win on Sunday and we knew we had to be on our game if we were to come away with the win which we did.”
“The most pleasing aspect about Sunday was our defensive effort as this is something that we have been working hard on for the past few weeks. We cut out the individual and team mistakes which we have been seeing in recent weeks and our penalty count was very low which showed our mental state and determination especially when we only held a 4 point lead half way through the second half. Even when we conceded we ensured we kept our composure and continued to play our game and was rewarded for that. York had all the ball in the last 10 minutes but we held them out and got a late try ourselves, which gives us a lot of confidence. It takes a huge effort to do that.”
Benson was quick to point out that there is plenty more to come from his team and stressed that this must not be a one off.
“Of course there are things we could work on as we scored two tries on set plays but there are still many more attacking plays that we have worked on and can use in matches so we need to work on that but I thought we took our chances well today against a very experienced side.”
“The performance on Sunday sets a marker for the rest of the season and we need to ensure that we continue to work hard as a group to improve, its exciting times ahead.”
Kingstone Press Championship One Player of the Week – Dave Ellison Oxford RL
Interchange prop Dave Ellison was praised for his impact and leadership after producing a 60-minute spell in Oxford’s 24-16 win over York City Knights.
Oxford coach Tony Benson said: “Dave came on after 20 minutes and stayed on for the next hour. He really lifted things in a period where we’ve struggled in the past.
“It was an inspirational session from Dave; he led from the front, he was constantly poking his nose through in the collision and was talking to the team throughout.
“He’s been good for a while, but this was a particularly good display against very tough opposition.”
Kingstone Press Performance of the Week – OXFORD RL
Oxford produced one of the biggest shocks of the Kingstone Press Championship One season with a 24-16 win against York City Knights.
Oxford coach Tony Benson said: “It was a really good win for us, and the way we did it shows we’re starting to establish ourselves at this level.
“York had all the ball in the last 10 minutes but we held them out and got a late try ourselves, which gives us a lot of confidence. It takes a huge effort to do that.”
Benson added: “We had another player on debut – Ed Hayles, who’s a stockbroker – and we’re now predominantly using local players. It was a great effort all round."
Kingstone Press Championship One Team of the Week
1 Sean Morris (Oxford)
2 Jamaine Akadaire (Hunslet Hawks)
3 Phil Cowburn (Gloucestershire All Golds)
4 James Woodburn-Hall (London Skolars)
5 Dale Bloomfield (Oldham)
6 Jimmy Rowland (Oxford)
7 Matt Bradley (London Skolars)
8 James Houston (Hunslet Hawks)
9 Kenny Hughes (Oldham)
10 Dave Ellison (Oxford)
11 Danny Langtree (Oldham)
12 John Oakes (Hunslet Hawks)
Oxford Cavaliers are sad to announce the passing of
Kath Challinor-Jones (Allison).
Kath has been an ever present in rugby league in Oxford since its beginnings in 1996. As a passionate Wigan fan she helped bring the sport to Oxford and over the next 18 years gave countless hours to the club.
She worked tirelessly, often doing the thankless behind the scenes tasks; from washing the kit, to fixtures secretary, to cooking for 40 hungry players. Without Kath there would be no Oxford Cavaliers.
She will be sorely missed by all in the Cavaliers club and people in the wider rugby league community who knew her.
Our thoughts from both Oxford RL and Oxford Cavaliers are with Ian, Andy and Emma and the rest of the family.
The funeral will be held at Oxford Crematorium Wednesday 16th 2014 at 10.30 am.
March 21st 2014
Oxford look for revenge against the hawks
Oxford entertain the Hunslet Hawks down at Iffley road this coming Sunday looking for revenge after the Hawks dumped them out of the Challenge Cup last week. Both teams have had mixed results in the league so far with the home side impressively dispatching of the London Skolars in week 1 by 19 points to 12 before going down to Gateshead in week 2 by 47 points to 28 at the Gateshead International Stadium. The visitors made the trip down to the Hemel Stags in week 1 coming away with a 28-0 win before going down to York by 28 points to 26 at the South Leeds Stadium.
Tony Benson said "Hunslet are a good side and are playing with a lot of confidence at the moment but we expected that and Sunday's game proved that and this Sunday will be no different, but it's up to us to work hard in training this week and continue where we left off in the second half and play to how I know we can play. We have a big pitch down at Iffley road and we need to move the ball around quickly and move there forwards around the park to tire them out."
Oxford captain Alex Thompson said "We know what we have to do after last week and have a point to make against them as we want to show them the real us. We have been working hard in training this week to correct the areas where we got caught out and the spirit in the camp has been fantastic and we are looking to put in a great performance after last week. I thought at times in the second half we got to them and we need to do that from the off on Sunday and I am confident we will do that.”
Valu Bentley (ankle) continues to be out and Benson will give a late check to Sean Morris who missed last week's defeat against Hunslet with a head injury but apart from that has no other injury concerns and will have a fully fit squad to choose from.
Squad from: Baird, Benson, Blaney, Blewitt, Brooker, Crabtree, Connick, Clarke, Davies, Ellison, Evans, Hadden, Hoggins, Lynch, J.Morris, S.Morris, Mulkeen, Newton, O'Keeffe, Osborn, Parker, Rice, Roden, Rowland, Sharratt, Slade-Jones, Thompson, Winfield and Wright
March 19th 2014
Benson looks to the positives
Oxford coach Tony Benson wanted to focus on the positives after his side suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Hunslet Hawks to go out of the Challenge Cup at the first hurdle. The damage had been done in the first half after being 52-0 down at the hooter but Benson's side put in a much improved performance in the second half which will give them confidence going into the league match between the two sides this week at Iffley road.
"In the first half there was not enough commitment in defence, we did not play with structure and could not get our hands on the ball and against the quality of Hunslet they are going to make you pay. We also had to shuffle the team around when Tommy (Connick) came off and it killed our attack.
That said I was encouraged how we turned around our second half, we tighten up our defence and played with more structure. We still have a lot of work to do and the boys have a challenge ahead of themselves but I know they will be looking to put things right this week."
Oxford captain Alex Thompson said "It was a disappointing performance especially in the first half as we know we are better than that. We need to keep hold of the ball, because against good sides you will get found out and that’s what happened on Sunday as we did not get enough ball in the first half. They were too fast down the middle. Its probably the best opposition we have played since the club was formed. They are the most experienced side in the league and we need to be switched on for the full 80 minutes. That said I thought we were the better side at times in the second half and certainly got at them.”
March 15th 2014
Oxford all set for big Challenge Cup match
Oxford RL make the trip up to Leeds on Sunday when they face the Hunslet Hawks in the third round of the Challenge cup.
Both teams will be looking at bouncing back after disappointing defeats last weekend with Oxford RL going down 47-28 to Gateshead Thunder and Hunslet suffering a home defeat by the York City Knights by 28 points to 26.
This will be Oxford’s second foray into the Challenge Cup when they tackled Halifax last season going down by 54 points to 12 in the third round. Hunslet made it through the third round beating Oldham 36-10 before going down to Super League opponents in the shape of the Catalan Dragons in round four by 50 points to 12.
This will be the first of three visits to the South Leeds Stadium for Oxford as they have to visit the Hawks twice in the league later in the season. Sunday’s clash see's the two sides meet on successive weekends as Hunslet will also be travelling down to Iffley Road for the first ever league meeting between the two sides next weekend.
“They are a very strong side on paper, who have come down from the Championship last year and have added to their team. They have a very good coach in Barry Eaton."
"We are going to have to play for the whole 80 minutes but we are going up there to win. We will be underdogs in many people’s eyes but it is a chance for an upset.
If we don’t maintain our game for the whole match then we will be in trouble. It will give us a good indication of how they play ready for our home league match against them next weekend.”
Oxford Captain Alex Thompson said “It's a big game, the challenge cup is a prestigious competition and we want to get through to the next round. We will be looking to make up for last week. They will be favourites especially as they have come down from the championship and have a very strong squad. We will have the underdogs tag going into the game but we will be looking to shock a few people and if we can play like we did in the Skolars match then we will have every chance.”
Benson has injury worries over Valu Bentley (ankle) after he came off in the defeat to Gateshead last weekend and will check on him in training this week but apart from that has no other injury concerns and will have a fully fit squad to choose from.
Squad from: Baird, Bentley, Benson, Blaney, Blewitt, Brooker, Crabtree, Connick, Clarke, Davies, Ellison, Evans, Hadden, Hoggins, Lynch, J.Morris, S.Morris, Mulkeen, Newton, O'Keeffe, Osborn, Parker, Rice, Roden, Rowland, Sharratt, Slade-Jones, Thompson, Winfield and Wright.
March 11th 2014
Benson and Thompson left to rue what might have been
Oxford coach Tony Benson was left frustrated with not picking up the win after leading 22-21 with only 18 minutes left of the game which saw his side eventually slip to their first defeat of the season going down 47-28 and failed to come away with even a losing bonus point in the end.
“We looked really good up to 62 mins, but then we conceded a number of penalties in quick succession along with kicking the ball out on the full and a number of debatable back to back 0 tackle sets and we lost our way. The players heads dropped and structures were let go but we pulled it back in the last 10 minutes. But ultimately we had a 13 minute period where we let our structure go and this lost us the game which you cannot do at any level of the game.
I was very encouraged with what I saw though and if we can maintain this for the whole game we will be hard to beat. The players are improving week on week and I am expecting a reaction next week.”
Oxford captain Alex Thompson was equally disappointed saying “We are all disappointed not to kick on after last week's win against the Skolars. For 60 minutes we played well but in this game we need to be switched on for the full 80 minutes and we gave away too many penalties and didn't have enough ball, especially in the final quarter where they blitzed us with a number of tries in quick succession and we couldn't get the ball back.
However it's important that we learn from this, we have a good set of lads here and we will come back stronger from this and will be looking to bounce back for Sunday's big cup game.”
March 10th 2014
Oxford slip to first defeat
Gateshead Thunder got their Kingstone Press Championship One campaign off to the perfect start with a 47-28 win over Oxford RL at the Gateshead International stadium.
Oxford were looking to build on last weekend’s impressive victory against the London Skolars and it was them first to cross the line in today’s match when Gateshead conceded a penalty which gave the vistors a chance to build good field position and from this saw Alex Thompson play in Chris Clarke from close range. Rowland added the extras.
The home side hit straight back on 8 minutes when a kick on the last to the corner saw Tom Capper out jump Oxford winger Michael Crabtree to touch down. Carl Puckering added the extras to tie the game.
Mid way through the first half saw Thunder take the lead for the first time when they created the overlap on the Oxford right wing, which enabled Joe Brown to go in at the corner. Puckering knocked over the 2 points on offer once again to leave the home side leading 12-6.
They did not lead for long as on 28 minutes the away side were back in the game when the home side conceded back to back penalties and were made to pay when Oxford took the ball down the middle and Connick played a short ball which missed out Ellison and was taken by the oncoming Jordan Rice to go under the posts. Rowland added the extras once again.
Just before half time saw Carl Puckering knock over a drop goal for the home side to leave them up 13-12, however the away side went straight up the other end and caught Gateshead offside which gave Oxford the opportunity to knock over the 2 points on offer which they did to take them in at half time 14-12 up.
Oxford again started off the second half just like they did the first half on the front foot and were rewarded on 43 minutes when Rice started off the move with a good pick up before releasing Mulkeen on the right who ran up to the Gateshead 20 before passing to Andrew Hoggins to go in at the corner. Rowland failed with the extras to leave his side leading 18-13.
A couple of minutes later the away side had a chance to extend their lead when JJ Baird made a fantastic break who then put in Morris but was held up on the line and the chance was lost.
This would prove crucial as a few minutes later Gateshead were again back in the game when Oxford conceded a penalty on their own line and Carl Puckering put in Brown once again to score in the corner. Puckering missed the extras to leave it a one-point game.
Oxford RL struck back once again on 55 minutes when Sean Morris stripped the ball off Gateshead captain Jason Payne and darted between a couple of defenders to go over, Rowland missed the extras leaving it at 22-17.
Back came the home side on 60 minutes when continued pressure from them saw Jason Payne hold off his defender to slide in, Puckering missed the conversion to leave this exciting clash finely poised entering the final 20 minutes.
Gateshead took the lead for the first time on 62 minutes when Brown completed his hat-trick when he took the ball on the run and went between 4 defenders to go under the sticks,
Puckering added the extras to make it 27-22 to the hosts.
The tide was turning in this match after Oxford kicked straight out on the full and conceded back to back penalties and made the visitors pay minutes later, when they shipped the ball out wide for Payne to go over in the corner for his second of the match, the conversion was again added leaving the home side with clear daylight for the first time and one they would not let slip.
Further tries were added by Sam Lynch, with Jason Payne completing his hat-trick and the final try was scored by Matthew Beharrell with 4 minutes to go.
The away side had the final say though on 78 minutes when Gateshead had conceded a penalty for a high shot and the ball was worked out to the wing for Morris to grab his second of the match with Rowland knocking over the extras to leave the final score at 47-28.
Tony Benson’s side can consider themselves unlucky not to come away with at least a losing bonus point and the score line was not a reflection of the game as Oxford were the better side for the majority of the game however there is lots to build on going into next weekend’s Challenge Cup match against the Hunslet Hawks.
March 4th 2014
Kingstone Press Championship One Player of the Week – Sean Morris (Oxford)
Sean Morris marked his first appearance at full-back with two tries, including a length-of-the-field touchdown, to help Oxford record a 19-12 victory over London Skolars.
Morris, who spent last season at centre, has recently returned from a trial spell with London Broncos.
Oxford coach Tony Benson said: “I wanted to switch him to full-back last year, but I didn’t have the cover in the centres. It’s a position that gives him a bit more room and he was sensational against London Skolars.
“He’s very strong and elusive with his kick returns, which means we can start our sets further up the pitch, and he’s got a very good temperament.
“Physically Sean could play in any division, he just lacks experience at the moment.”
Kingstone Press Try of the Week – Sean Morris (Oxford)
Sean Morris took just two minutes of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One clash with London Skolars to justify the decision to switch him to full-back, racing 90 metres to score an outstanding individual try.
Oxford coach Tony Benson said: “Sean’s exceptionally quick and proved it on Sunday.
“His first try came from a dropped ball by London 10 metres from our line. Matt Hadden picked up the ball and fed Sean, who ran off, beat two or three defenders with pace and footwork, and then went the length of the field with players chasing him all over the place.
It was a superb try and I'm also very pleased for Callum Mulkeen, a positive performance on the wing rewarded with a try"
Kingstone Press Championship One Team of the Week
1 Sean Morris (Oxford)
2 Callum Mulkeen (Oxford)
3 Danny Maun (Hunslet Hawks)
4 Sam Gee (Oldham)
5 Andy Ballard (Hunslet Hawks)
6 Pat Smith (York City Knights)
7 Benn Hardcastle (York City Knights)
8 James Houston (Hunslet Hawks)
9 Craig Cook (Gloucestershire All Golds)
10 Jason Boults (Oldham)
11 John Oakes (Hunslet Hawks)
12 Lamont Bryan (London Skolars)
13 Chris Vitalini (South Wales Scorpions)
February 27th 2014
Lord Mayor comes to Iffley
Oxford Rugby League is delighted to welcome the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Delia Sinclair to our game on Sunday when we tackle the London Skolars.
Councillor Delia Sinclair will be attending a pre match lunch before presenting the match ball to the referee ahead of kick-off.
On attending the match the Lord Mayor said “I am very much looking forward to the match and to have someone explaining what is happening. I have watched the game on TV before but I am looking forward to seeing it live.”
Oxford RL MD Adrian Smith said “I’m delighted that the Lord Mayor and other honoured guests have taken us up on our invite. It’s a bit of a coup for the Club and I hope we make new fans of them. I’m sure they will enjoy the day and the Iffley experience. I know the boys will make the City proud”
February 27th 2014
Brooker latest to check in
Oxford RL squad was further strengthen today with the signing of 24 year old centre Marcus Brooker. Marcus played for the Gloucestershire All Gold's last season in their debut in Kingstone Press Championship One and went on to make 5 appearances scoring 2 tries in the process. He also played for the Bristol Sonics and has representative honours with England Students.
On joining Oxford RL Marcus said "I am looking forward to the new challenge that the club will bring. From what I have been told there is a good foundation the club is built on and the progression the club makes to make is something to look forward to and I am excited to be a part of it.
"My aims for this season are to improve myself as a player by trying to improve my own ability and I will be working hard to achieve this as we progress through the season."
Tony Benson, Oxford coach said "He's a big powerful centre who trialled last year but didnt get in however came back this season and really impressed me. He has trained well in pre-season and I am looking forward to seeing how he goes."
February 24th 2014
Oxford RL bring in Scotland A star
Oxford RL have continued their recruitment drive with the signing of 23 year old Jordan Rice from the University of Gloucestershire All Golds.
Rice who is a loose forward and can also play in the second row position was an ever present member of the All Golds squad last year making 20 appearances and scoring 5 tries. He also played in both matches between the two sides in their debut season in the Kingstone Press Championship One.
He joins ex All Golds Yannic Parker, Sam Blaney, Callum Mulkeen and Rory Sharratt at the club this season.
Rice is a Scotland A International and was selected in last year's Four Nations squad.
Jordan made his professional debut for the York City Knights in a 38-48 defeat against Leigh in 2011 in the Championship.
On signing for the club Jordan said "I am very excited to join Oxford RL, it provides a great opportunity to play for a rugby league team in the south of England helping to expand the game. Personally allows for a new experience and a fresh start I look forward to working hard and earning my place in the team."
"My aims for the season is to be the best player I can be give 100% for the club and help drive Oxford towards promotion. A reappearance in the Scotland squad would be ideal so I will be working towards that as well through my performances."
Oxford coach Tony Benson said "Ricey is a quality player who has always gone well against us. He has got a lot of experience for someone his age and is a very skilful player. I am looking forward to seeing how he goes this year."
February 21st 2014
Oxford makes double Cambridge signing
Oxford Rugby League is delighted to announce the double signings of Cambridge University old boys Andy Winfield and Ed Hayles.
22-year-old half back Winfield started playing rugby league at Cambridge in September 2010 and went on to appear in three Rugby League Varsity Matches against Oxford. In his final outing for Cambridge in the 2013 Varsity Match, as President of the Light Blues, he played alongside his younger brother, Craig
Andy studied physics at St John's College and since his graduation has started teaching at state school Yardleys in south Birmingham.
Andy was part of the South East England Students squad in 2013 and has also represented GB Teachers.
Andy was delighted to be joining the club and said “I'm really excited to be joining Oxford RL and can't wait to start pre-season. I followed the progress of the team closely last season and I'm looking forward to playing my part in another historic year for the club.”
“My aims for the season are to work hard, enjoy my rugby league and to learn as much as possible. I hope that by doing this I will make a positive impact on the pitch and will help contribute to a successful season for the club.”
Tony Benson, Oxford RL coach said “He’s really impressed me so far with his timing of passes and pass accuracy. He is elusive, skilful, quite quick and runs good lines along with being really strong defensively. I am excited to see his progress as we move through the season.”
Joining Andy at the club will be 31 year old backrow player Ed Hayles.
Hayles has represented Elmbridge Eagles, Realmont, Lescure-Arthes and the Gloucester Warriors in his rugby league career so far.
The media spotlight has been on Ed before when he made it on Sky Sports Boots ‘n’ All in 2011 due to him giving up his job as a stockbroker in the city and deciding to try his hand at playing the game that he loves when he moved to the south of France to join Realmont.
Whilst at Cambridge University’s Queen’s College, Ed played in two Varsity Matches, losing both and in his final year was captain of the side, however missed out due to injury.
Ed was also delighted to be joining the club and said “It’s great to join a club outside the heartlands of rugby league who have ambition and quality. I hope I can be part of this squad and part of the continuing growth of the game in the area.”
We asked Ed how he feels pre-season training has gone so far and he said “It is a motivated squad, with quality coaching, conditioning and behind the scene staff. The structures are there and now it’s up to us as a squad to win some games.
Personally, having not played for a while I’m behind in my strength and conditioning work but hopefully once I’m up to speed i can push for the squad and show the coaching staff what I can do.”
On Ed’s move Benson said “He’s a wildcard, turned up to the trials and played really well. He has continued to impress me in training, he’s a strong backrow player and it’s going to be interesting to see how he goes.”
February 20th 2014
Evans latest to commit future
Luke Evans is the latest member of last year’s squad to have re-signed for the upcoming 2014 season, Evans who can play at either stand off or as a hooker endured a frustrating campaign when he broke his ankle in a pre-season warm up game against the RAF.
Before joining Oxford the 23-year-old played for Exeter University over the past four years and has also represented Wales in the student Four Nations.
On re-signing for the club Luke said "I had a false start last season due to the injury sustained against the RAF in pre season. Happy to be given another chance to impress TB and the rest of the coaching team. It will be fantastic if I am able to put on the shirt this year and run out at Iffley road for the first time. I have been working hard in pre-season training and will hopefully be given the chance to impress in the upcoming pre season games."
Tony Benson, Oxford coach said "He had a really bad injury last year which kept him out for the season, but he has worked hard to get back to full fitness. He is strong in defence, is very powerful and is a skilful player. I'm looking forward to seeing how he develops this season."
February 14th 2014
Oxford bring in RAF duo
Oxford’s preparations for the 2014 season were strengthen today with the double signing of half back James Roden and backrower Al Blewitt.
Roden who has previously played for Chorley/Lancashire Lynx, made his professional debut against Featherstone in 1999.
Roden who is no relation to Martin Roden who played with Oxford last season has also played for Adlington Rangers and has representative honours with England Students and the Royal Air Force.
James was delighted to be joining the club and said “Oxford RL is a dedicated and professional club with a positive atmosphere. I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead and playing my part in a successful Championship One campaign.”
Tony Benson, Oxford coach said "He’s from the RAF and impressed in a game we had against the RAF last year. He’s a halfback who is a courageous player who I’m expecting to kick on this year.”
Also joining Jim at the club is Al Blewitt who made 1 appearance for the club last season when he played against the London Skolars in the 34-40 loss at the new river stadium. He has played for the Combined Services at both Rugby League and Rugby Union, and has represented the GB Armed Forces at the World Cup in 2008. Alan has also represented Henley and Chinnor Rugby Union Clubs.
Al was delighted to be re-joining the club for the 2014 season and "I am looking forward to a lot more game time this season and to seeing how the club progresses after a steady start last year. There's a lot of new talented boys coming in this year so it will be great to see how they evolve and perform! Bring on 2014."
On Blewitt's re-signing, Oxford coach Tony Benson said “He played for us last season and has played for the RAF. He’s just come back from a really bad leg injury and still has an open gash from his knee to his hip – he’s had skin grafts and everything. He’s back though and eager to play and we should see more of him this season because he was away for part of the season last year.”
Oxford play Skolars at Maidenhead in pre-season friendly this coming Saturday 11th February 2014.
Oxford RL and fellow Championship 1 rivals London Skolars are to play a rearranged pre-season friendly this coming Saturday, the 15th February, at Maidenhead Rugby Club’s ground.
With the weather having been responsible for the cancellation of a number of pre-season matches and training sessions both clubs were keen to get some much needed game time before the Championship 1 season starts on March 2nd.
The Maidenhead’s 3G artificial grass pitch means the match will go ahead, regardless of the continuing waet weather!
This will be the club’s first pre-season run out of the season whilst the Skolars had a good run out when they faced Wigan Warriors at the HAC last month.
The match will kick-off at 5.00pm and both coaches will be bringing along their 1st team squads for a run-out so it’s a great opportunity for supporters to take a look at some of the club’s new signings.
The match is open to the public and admission is only £3. Maidenhead’s ground has a capacity of 1,750 with covered seating for 250.
The ground address is: Braywick Park, Braywick Road, Maidenhead SL6 1BN
From M4, Junction 8/9, take A308(M) signed to Central Maidenhead. Follow for 0.8 miles. At the roundabout turn left onto the dual carriageway, A308. After 0.5 miles turn right across the dual carriageway into Braywick Park.
If you miss the turn for the entrance, proceed along the dual carriageway towards Maidenhead centre, to the next roundabout (0.25 miles). Make a full circuit of the roundabout, returning along the opposite side of the dual carriageway.
You will see Braywick Park on your left and come to a large lay-by containing the entrance to the Park.
Visitors should park in the free car park on the right as you enter Braywick.
Nearest Railway Station
Maidenhead 800yds from the Clubhouse.
February 10th 2014
Prop forward signs on again
Oxford's ranks grew again today with the confirmation that David Ellison has re-signed for the club ahead of the 2014 season. Ellison is a prop forward and made 10 appearances for the club last season. He began his career at Wigan and had spells with Swinton, London Skolars and more recently with Oldham.
Dave was delighted to be re-signing for the club and said "I'm delighted to have re-signed for the club, Tony gets the best out of me and motivates me. I really enjoyed being at the club last season, there are some really good people at the club, I've got good friends here which was another factor for re-signing. The club has got good facilities and it's the little things that they look after so we can just concentrate on playing rugby. There were a few clubs interested in me, but I wanted to remain here and it just felt right to re-sign for the 2014 season."
"I thought last year was a real success, we did really well, we started better than people expected and surprised a few teams. The lads who came in like Sean Morris, JJ Baird and Andrew Hoggins did extremely well and certainly stepped up well to this level."
"We want to get in a good pre-season, teams will under estimate us especially when they come to our place, we have a good team and if we play to our full ability then we will do well. We need to win all our home games and use our home pitch to our advantage because we have a big pitch which suits our game and we need to put teams under pressure when they come here and make it a fortress. I firmly believe that we will qualify for the playoffs this season but it is down to us."
Tony Benson, Oxford RL coach said “Dave is really experienced having been in the youth grades at Wigan and having played for me at London Skolars and Oldham, He’s big and quick with good skill about him and his experience is good for our team at the moment.”
February 9th 2014
Bartholomew Students gain Rugby League Qualification
Three of Bartholomew’s sixth form students achieved their Level 1 UKCC Certificate in Coaching Rugby League on Sunday 26th January after completing two full days of coaching and assessment.
Rugby League is currently growing at grassroots level in Oxfordshire with squads being developed at Abingdon and Witney College and Bartholomew School. After the successful delivery of the Rugby League Young Leaders Award in July 2013, Robyn Coburn, Adam Moss and John Rees were all asked to apply for a place on the Level 1 Coaching Course as course leader Andy Lindley spotted leadership potential in the three.
The newly qualified coaches will have the chance to develop their coaching skills in rugby league by becoming involved in the schools Sky Sports Living for Sport Project currently being run for the year 7 boys. It is an inter form rugby league 7’s tournament named ‘The Steve Prescott Memorial Shield’ after the rugby league legend Steve Prescott who sadly lost the battle against cancer in November 2013.
It is hoped that the three coaches can go on to complete their Level 2 qualification at some point in the near future so the delivery can then branch out into the local primary schools.
From left to right: Robyn Coburn, Adam Moss, John Rees and Andy Lindley (course leader)
February 9th 2014
Forces contingent grows
Oxford RL have completed the signing of 28 year old full back Rhydian Slade-Jones. Rhydian joins after impressing in the trial which the club held back in November and is the latest player to have joined the ranks from the forces, and joins Al Blewitt and Owen Hunt along with Oz Hicks and Phil Cavanagh who are on the club's backroom staff.
Rhydian has representative honours with Army Rugby League.
On joining the club Rhydian said "This is the first RL team I have been involved in outside of the Military and I’m excited about the prospect of playing for Oxford. I am looking forward to learning from the various coaches and improve my current skill set."
Oxford coach Tony Benson said "Rhydian is in the Army and has been transferred near to Oxford from Wales, He’s a halfback or fullback who played in the trials, and I’m quite excited about him."
February 6th 2014
Benson latest to sign on
Oxford RL have strengthened their 2014 squad further with the signing of backrower Mike Benson.
The 33 year old who is no relation of coach Tony Benson, is also a centre and has previously played for the South London Storm, St Albans Centurions and the Esher Exiles. He also has representative honours with Scotland A and Scotland 9s.
On joining the club Mike said “I am hugely looking forward to the challenge and being part of such an ambitious new club. I have played rugby league down south for a number of years and hope a successful Oxford can help continue to grow the game down here.
Mike explained his aims for the season ahead were pretty simple by saying “I'm coming pretty late to the pro game so my ambition is firstly to secure a place in the side and secondly to contribute to a team challenging for promotion.”
Tony Benson, coach of Oxford RL said “ “Michael has come from the London Rugby League competition and is a backrower with a high work rate who can defend all day. He’s a real grafter.”
February 5th 2014
Oxford bring in Broncos academy product
Oxford RL are delighted to announce the arrival of 19 year old winger Chima Odum. Chima who can also play in the centre’s joins from the London Broncos. He made his professional debut against Huddersfield Giants U19’s and has also played for the South London Storm and has representative honours with London and Southeast Colleges.
On joining Oxford RL Chima said “I am very excited to have been given the opportunity to play for Oxford rugby league, the season will be a physical test and it is one I look forward to, I also look forward to developing as a player here at Oxford rugby league under the experience of Tony Benson and his coaching staff.”
Tony Benson Oxford coach said “Chima has played with the London Broncos Academy and is a really athletic lad who can play centre or wing. He’s very quick with some experience behind him and I'm looking forward to seeing how he comes on this year with us."
January 23rd 2014
Oxford snap up a Bear
Oxford’s recruitment drive continued today with the signing of 24 year old prop Tom Davies. Davies was an ever present member of the Coventry Bears team who have been playing in the National Conference League over the past two years.
Tom has also played for Farnley Falcons, Undercliffe Wildboars and Bradford University along with representative honours with England Students.
On joining Oxford RL Tom said “I am excited about getting to play Rugby League in my home county and for it to be in Championship One is brilliant and something I thought would never happen.”
“My objective is to work hard to get myself into regards contention for the match day squad and make my debut for Oxford in Championship One.”
Tom Tsang, coach of Coventry Bears said "I first coached Tom for England Universities and immediately brought him to the Coventry Bears where he has been a stand out performer in his two seasons with us.
In Tom, Oxford RL have signed a tough and direct prop who is hardworking in defence and shows a good turn of pace when needed. He has a great attitude to training and is always willing to learn and improve. I am sure Tom will be a success at Oxford when given his chance and I wish him and the team the best of luck for the 2014 season."
Oxford coach Tony Benson said "He’s been at Coventry and he’s a strong and aggressive front rower, He’s got a good engine and will take the ball up all day. He came to the trials last year and I gave him some feedback, which he’s adhered to and has come back as a true contender for a spot now.”
January 21st 2014
Oxford RL swoop for Welsh student
The club’s squad was strengthened further today with the signing of centre Yannic Parker from the University of Gloucestershire All Golds. Hailing from Haverfordwest, Yannic signed for the South Wales Scorpions in 2012 after impressing with Gloucester University and Wales Students. Parker who can also play in the second row position has also played rugby union for local Welsh sides Whitland RFC and Tenby RFC. He made 8 appearances for the Scorpions in 2012 making his professional debut against Halifax in the Challenge Cup. In 2013 he joined the University of Gloucestershire All Golds making 10 appearances for them and scoring one try including the historic game when his new and old clubs met at the beginning of last season.
Parker also played his part in last year’s student world cup making 4 appearances, scoring 3 tries in the process and helping Wales to a semi-final place where they lost out to eventful winners Australia.
Yannic was delighted to be joining the club and said “I am very excited and happy to be a part of Oxford rugby league. The club has formed very successfully with a good solid base. The club had a great debut season in Championship One and I am hoping we can build on that season and make it even further this year. I am also very excited to be coached by Tony Benson and his team; with the experience he has in the game I am certain it will be a successful combination.”
“I am looking forward to building on Oxfords brilliant start to Championship One, and I believe a play-off spot is well within reach. I believe come the end of the season we will be in the play-offs and hopefully with the additions made to the squad we can push ourselves all the way.”
“He’s a big and athletic player who is pretty strong, said Oxford coach Tony Benson on his latest recruit."
“I’m looking forward to what he can do in the pre-season games. He’s been looking good in training and I didn’t realise how big and strong he is. Along with Callum Mulkeen he has been doing a lot of Olympic weightlifting, so they are quite powerful athletes.”
January 17th 2014
Cavalier joins the club
Oxford Rugby League have completed the signing of hooker Wes Newton. Newton is no stranger to professional rugby league as he has represented Harlequins U20's and made his debut against Hull U20's in 2010. He has a wealth of experience at such a young age and his previous club's include Myton Warriors, South London Storm, Elmbridge Eagles and most recently the Oxford Cavaliers.
He also has representative honours with Yorkshire Under 19's, South England Students and the Great Britain Student Pioneers.
On being offered a contract with the club Wes said " I am really excited to be joining Oxford RL, they have a great vision in making Rugby League big in Oxford and I am happy that I can be a part of that. The club is great and are doing all they can to be a success on and off the field which is fantastic.
I am looking to try and give Tony Benson a few headaches in team selection by putting myself out there and improving all aspects of my game. Playing regular in the first team would be a great achievement for me and a challenge I look forward to facing."
Tony Benson Oxford head coach said "Wes is a local player, and came to the trials last year but was out of condition. He's come back this year in shape and has shown that he has a lot of skill and experience, He has been with the Broncos Academy and I'm sure he will be dangerous this year."
January 15th 2014
Oxford RL bring in All Golds Centre
Oxford's ranks grew further today with the capture of centre Callum Mulkeen from the University of Gloucestershire All Golds. Mulkeen who can also play second row started his career at Oldham before moving to the All Golds where he made 16 appearances for them in their debut season in the Kingstone Press Championship One, including the historic match between the two sides at the beginning of the season where Oxford came out on top that afternoon with a 40-30 win at the Prince of Wales Stadium.
Mulkeen has also represented Ireland Students and Ireland A where he played in last year's amateur 4 nations tournament.
Callum was delighted to be joining the club and said "I have already experienced what it's like to play with and against some of the players at the club and I have witnessed the success of Oxford as a new club and how well they have developed players that have been new to the game."
"I look forward to starting training with the club and developing my game both as a rugby player and as an athlete during preseason. My individual goals are to progress as a player and improve my game as much as possible and enjoy my season with the club."
Oxford coach Tony Benson said "I was introduced to Callum through Andy Lindley when I was at Oldham and he came up and trained with us whilst playing for the reserves, He had good experience at this level after playing for the All Gold's last year and I am looking forward to working with him again this season.
He is quick on his feet and elusive and with time in our team he will flourish. I fully expect him to become a very valuable member of the team."
January 13th 2014
Clarke is the latest to re-sign
Prop Chris Clarke is the latest member of the squad to re-sign ahead of the 2014 season. Clarke who can also play in the second row and loose forward positions made 10 appearances for the club last season since his move from Oldham. Chris made his professional debut against Leigh in 2009 and has also captained Lancashire in the past.
On his re-signing Chris said "We have got a good team this year, we will do well and I am expecting us to do much better than last season, I'm excited to be here again and can't wait to get started."
Despite time of the sidelines through injury Chris was pleased to get a good run in the team towards the end of the season and said "It was a frustrating time for me but I got back in the swing of it, loved playing and hopefully I will stay injury free this year."
Oxford coach Tony Benson was delighted to have secured the services of Clarke and said "He is a very important part of our pack, he is a leader and full of aggression in attack and defence. He adds a lot to the team, Chris leads from the front and has the experience and the talent for someone his age."
January 10th 2014
Oxford sign Sharratt
Oxford are delighted to announce the signing of 21 year old Hooker Rory Sharratt, Sharratt who joins from Championship One local rivals the University of Gloucestershire All Golds.
Rory made 5 appearances for the club in their debut season in the league including the match between the sides at the Prince of Wales stadium on the opening day of the season.
On joining the club Rory said "I am happy to have joined and I am looking forward getting on and having a good start to the season and getting to know all the lads. I can't wait to start the season and get some matches under my belt."
Martin Roddy, Oxford assistant coach said: “He is very strong defensively, and reads the game really well. His communication and distribution around the ruck is excellent and I am expecting good things from him, He will be a excellent addition to the squad."
January 8th 2014
Oxford continue rebuilding ahead of the 2014 season
Oxford RL are delighted to announce that Glenn Osborn has re-signed for the club. Osborn joined the club last season after previous spells with Gateshead Thunder and London Skolars and went on to make 10 appearances in the club's debut season in Kingstone Press Championship One.
Glenn was looking forward to the season ahead and said "It's exciting times to be at the club with lots of changes going on and I think we can really kick on this season.
Last season as a whole went fantastically well, we started off well then tailed off in the middle but we picked it back up at the end and were disappointed not to go further in the playoffs."
"I thought I had a good season, I was injury free and played the majority of games and I felt I played well. This season I want to again play as many games as I can, and also help the younger and less experienced squad members out to get them up to speed with life at this level."
"This season we want to finish higher than last year but we all know it is going to be a lot tougher with the teams coming down and the current teams in our league strengthening their squads further. But I believe we can finish higher with our tough pre season schedule that our backroom staff are putting together."
Oxford coach Tony Benson was delighted to have secured the services of Osborn again and said "It is great for the club as he is a very experienced player from the south, He has a really good consistent go forward and gains us metres. He can also use the ball when needed and is skilful for a front rower."
January 6th 2014
Bentley latest to commit to the the club
Valu Bentley has become the latest member of the club to re-sign for the 2014 season. Bentley who plays in the loose forward position was an integral member of the team last year where he made 14 appearances and scored 2 tries. He was the first Oxford player to score a try at Iffley Road when he went over against the South Wales Scorpions.
Valu was delighted to be re-joining the club for the 2014 season and said "It didn't take much to convince me to re sign. I really enjoyed my first year at oxford, it's a good family based club. The staff are all good, hard working people and I can only see the club progressing in the years to come."
"On the field, we surprised a few of the top teams so it showed that we could compete with the top teams. We need to do that throughout the whole season, and be consistent."
"Being the first ever Oxford rugby league professional signing, first try scorer at iffley road and winning the first man of match was a big achievement for me. Something I'll keep close to me forever and something I can tell the grand kids. I'm very blessed to have the backing of my wife and kids who came to nearly all our home games as there was a coach provided by the club. Having my family with me on game day, only made me perform and play better rugby. Having my brother Andrew come over too was a very good experience for the team but something personal for me, I wish I was playing with my 3 brothers Andrew, Kane and Hamish all at Oxford."
Oxford coach Tony Benson said "Valu was one of the leaders on the field consistently week in and week out, he can switch positions during the game which is a fantastic asset to have and has a really good work rate."