Gavin Willacy

Author's posts

Feb 14

Wigan and Hull’s trip to Australia shows Super League suits the road

The success of the first Super League game outside of Europe should inspire clubs to explore other cities around the worldBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredEven before the friendlies in Sydney this weekend, Wigan and Hull’s trip to New South Wale…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2018/feb/14/wigan-hull-australia-super-league-on-the-road

Feb 07

Super League: what we learned from the first round of fixtures

St Helens showed why they are favourites to win Super League in their thumping 46-6 win over CastlefordBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredSo the bookies are right again. St Helens showed exactly why they are favourites to win Super League; Castlef…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2018/feb/07/super-league-st-helens-castleford-catalans-hull-salford

Jan 24

Wigan coach Shaun Wane is feeling upbeat before a make or break season

Wigan Warriors are not nailed on for a top-four finish in Super League this season but they have an abundance of young talentBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredWigan fans have had it pretty good in recent years. They have won three Super League ti…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2018/jan/24/wigan-warriors-shaun-wane-super-league-season

Dec 22

Will new rugby league clubs in the US and Canada pick up college footballers?

Youngsters who do not make it in the NFL could take up a new career if rugby league clubs spring up in New York, Boston, Hamilton or PhiladelphiaBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkSo that was the off-season: thr…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/dec/22/rugby-league-nfl-college-football-us

Dec 13

Rugby league: 13 lessons the sport should learn for the next World Cup

The organisers of the 2021 World Cup should maximise TV audiences, appoint neutral referees, give players more rest and rethink scheduling and qualificationBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkWatching the final a…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/dec/13/rugby-league-world-cup-england-australia-2021

Nov 30

England aim to end 45 years of hurt in Rugby League World Cup final

England may have lost 12 straight matches against Australia but they have enough quality to upset the Kangaroos in Brisbane on SaturdayBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkThe Kangaroos have won all their prelimin…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/nov/30/england-aim-to-end-45-years-of-hurt-in-rugby-league-world-cup-final

Nov 22

England go looking for their first World Cup final since 1995 – and a head coach

Wayne Bennett’s contract runs out after the World Cup. If he wants to bow out at the top, Leeds Rhinos and USA head coach Brian McDermott is ready for the jobBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkA couple of days b…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/nov/22/england-rugby-league-world-cup-coach

Nov 15

What next for the Celtic nations after early exits at Rugby League World Cup?

Five of the six European countries at the World Cup have been knocked out at the group stage. They need to develop more players in new territories to competeBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkThere are some simp…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/nov/15/rugby-league-world-cup-australia-england-scotland-wales-ireland

Nov 07

Rugby League World Cup mismatches look bad but don’t belittle weaker teams

Wales and USA could be in line to join the big time; Scotland’s drunk players treated their coach and country with contempt; and Tonga v Fiji could be tastyBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkWhen 25 players pile…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/nov/07/rugby-league-world-cup-scotland-wales-fiji-australia

Nov 04

Wales face Fiji desperate for their first Rugby League World Cup win in 17 years

‘We let ourselves down badly last time but are looking to make up for it with our first World Cup win for a very long time,’ says Wales captain Craig KopczakBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkEvery World Cup has…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/nov/04/wales-rugby-league-world-cup-after-previous-failures

Oct 31

Rugby League World Cup: Fiji’s Jarryd Hayne back at home in black and white | Gavin Willacy

The code and country hopping star talks growing the game internationally, and crossovers between NFL and rugby leagueWhen the few members of the press who attended the low-profile Fiji v United States game in Townsville last Saturday night heard singin…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/nov/01/rugby-league-world-cup-fijis-jarryd-hayne-back-at-home-in-black-and-white

Oct 31

Rugby League World Cup: what we learned from the first round of games

Ireland were impressive in their win over Italy; Lebanon rose to the challenge against France; and Scotland will be targeting their match against Samoa By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkIt is usually difficult …

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/oct/31/rugby-league-world-cup-fixtures-france-ireland-scotland

Oct 27

Australia is soaking in the World Cup but don’t expect to see many travelling fans

Why Tonga will be confident of reaching the semi-finals; England winger Jermaine McGillvary is one to watch; and where you can catch the games on TVBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkFour years ago I also set up…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/27/australia-england-rugby-league-world-cup-mood-fans

Oct 17

Meet the USA Rugby League World Cup captain … and organic food entrepreneur

Mark Offerdahl grew up in Australia, played club rugby in France and Wales, became an entrepreneur in London, and is about to captain USA at a World CupBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkMark Offerdahl will skip…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/oct/17/mark-offerdahl-rugby-league-usa-world-cup-captain-food

Sep 27

Toronto, Toulouse and Perpignan? How the Championship went cosmopolitan

The part-time players in the Championship will need to keep their passports handy next year – and that’s before more clubs arrive from across the Atlantic

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

On Saturday evening we will know whether Catalans Dragons or Leigh Centurions will be playing in the Championship next season. The losers of the Million Pound Game (that name – eurgh!) will go down and the odds are on a spineless Dragons team failing to play to their potential at a hostile Leigh Sports Village. That will be a great shame for Catalans and French rugby as a whole, but there are positives amid the gloom. It would mean two derbies with Toulouse Olympique and both clubs would be expected to challenge Toronto Wolfpack and London Broncos for promotion.

And that, in a nutshell, is the other problem. Part-time clubs in the Championship will have to travel to all four of those exciting destinations, flung far from the M62. Throw in either Barrow or Whitehaven – who meet in the League 1 play-off final on Sunday – and the financial impact on clubs such as Swinton, Batley, Sheffield, Featherstone is considerable. But they better get used to it, as there could soon be away trips to the USA and Ireland on the schedule, too.

Related: Damp squib in Philadelphia exposes distance of American rugby dream

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/sep/27/rugby-league-million-pound-game-catalans-leigh-toronto

Sep 19

Super League is tighter than ever – which shows the salary cap is working

With one round of Super 8s fixtures remaining, four clubs – Hull FC, St Helens, Wigan and Wakefield – are fighting for two spots in the play-offs

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Anyone still think the Super 8s are a dumb idea? As we enter the 30th and final week of the irregular season, it could hardly be any tighter. Third-placed Hull FC are just two points clear of Wigan in fifth, with Wakefield another point behind. St Helens should do their bit by winning at Salford on Thursday and their handsome points difference would secure them a play-off place regardless of whether Hull win at Castleford on Friday or Wigan win at Wakefield on Saturday.

If Saints slip up, Wakefield are suddenly back in the picture, making Saturday afternoon’s clash a win-or-bust for both them and Wigan. If Salford, Cas and Wakefield all win, third to seventh would be separated by three points after 30 games. That is astonishing. It would also mean Wakefield snatching the fourth semi-final berth and Saints and Wigan both wondering what on earth just happened.

Related: Castleford hold off Wigan after Jake Trueman hat-trick puts them on course

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/sep/19/super-league-super-8s-hull-st-helens-wigan-wakefield