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Read all about it - Tonga and Leigh a perfect match
10:00am Wednesday 23rd October 2013 in Sport
ON Thursday, Phil Caplan hosts a free Rugby League World Cup-themed event at Leigh Library.
A panel of experts will discuss - among other things - why the people of Leigh should adopt Tonga as their second team as their clash against Cook Isalnds on November 5 at Leigh Sports Village approaches fast.
Caplan is a co-director of Scratching Shed Publishing, which began as an outlet for rugby league writing before broadening out to feature all sorts of books offering “a distinctive taste of the North of England.”
Tell us about the event, Phil
Well, it’s a joint initiative between Try Reading, the Rugby League World Cup and Scratching Shed. We’re holding events throughout the North of England in association with the library services, so it’s really good to be in Leigh, and we’ve got a great panel reading from books and discussing the forthcoming world cup. We’ll then broaden it out to answer questions from the audience.
Who’s on the panel in Leigh?
We’ve got Tony Hannan, the author, journalist and broadcaster who is also co-director of Scratching Shed. Then there’s Andy Hampson, author of Mr Rugby Leigh: The Tommy Sale story, the Leigh historian and author Mike Latham and the Daily Mail’s rugby league correspondent Neil Barraclough. A real mixture of old and new!
Why is the Rugby League World Cup important to Leigh?
Actually, it’s important for the sport as a whole to realise that international rugby league is a great advertisement for the game. You can see from the coverage we’ve already had that there are media outlets taking a great interest in rugby league who normally wouldn’t go near it. People can support their nations, of course, but towns like Leigh can stage a game and really feel they’re part of a World Cup.
And Tonga Vs Cook Islands is a really interesting game, isn’t it?
Absolutely. It doesn’t matter that Leigh doesn’t have a game featuring a home nation - one of the best World Cup games I ever saw was in Keighley in 1995, when South Africa played Fiji. To even hear the South African national anthem at a rugby league game, immediately post apartheid, was fantastic. And the coach of Fiji came over as this wonderful evangelist - it turned out that guy was Graham Murray. The world cup can do that.
How far do you think Tonga can go in the tournament?
Well, I think there’s an interesting scenario about who the fourth team will be in the semi-finals. Logic will tell you Australia, England and New Zealand will be the three but there is a chance the last slot could be Tonga’s. There’s certainly no reason why the people of Leigh shouldn’t be turning up to see a team who could certainly make the quarter finals and perhaps further if they get a decent draw. We’ve all got to have a second team, so there’s an ideal opportunity for the public of Leigh to adopt Tonga and really get behind them.
Talking Balls is at Leigh Library (Derby Room) at 7pm on Thursday. Tickets are free, but book a place by e-mailing email@example.com or calling 01942 404404
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