York Lokomotive look to grow aided by link with USA club New York Raiders

Matt Chapman in action for York Lokomotive

Matt Chapman in action for York Lokomotive

First published in Sport York Press: Photograph of the Author by

YORK Lokomotive ARLC have confirmed a partnership with USA club New York Raiders as they step up preparations for their 2014 season – giving opportunities for players to play on the other side of the Atlantic.

The expansion club, who play in the Yorkshire Men’s League, also have plans to add a second team specifically for rugby league newcomers.

The Lokos will hold their annual general meeting at the Puss In Boots pub on Hamilton Drive on Sunday at 11am, where members will discuss the new plans.

The agreement with the New York outfit, who play in the American National Rugby League, has already been put in place, however, and it could involve players swapping teams either side of the Atlantic.

Lokos player and committee man Matt Chapman said: “We have just confirmed a unique partnership with the New York Raiders RL.

“We have agreed to not only share club and tactical ideas but to also offer players from both parties the opportunity to travel and play for each other’s clubs for season-long loans.

“The New York Raiders have already offered opportunities to three of our current squad who are currently pondering over the move and we hope to have a couple of Raiders travelling over to us in return.”

The agreement came about after Chapman struck up a link with the Raiders’ chairman over Facebook. Chapman said: “We’ve been swapping ideas about things on and off the field.

“He runs some bars and businesses in Manhattan I think and he said if any of our lads fancied going over there he could find them work and accommodation if they committed to the Raiders for a season. Similarly they have players maybe looking at travelling to Europe and we could return the favour.”

The Lokos, whose season starts in early May, begin pre-season training next Wednesday, with sessions taking place every Wednesday thereafter under coach Jon Hough and veteran player/assistant Simon Moat. Martin Bellwood and Dean Winspear are also on the management/coaching team.

All players new and old are welcome, including players with limited rugby league experience who could turn out for a new second team to play in the Yorkshire Men’s League’s merit division.

One of the the York RI-based outfit’s original principles when they formed as the city’s first summer season amateur rugby league club was to bring newcomers into the sport.

Although they had a difficult year when the bulk of the amateur game made the switch to summer, sometimes struggling for numbers as they could no longer call on players from neighbouring winter clubs, they have since increased their playing ranks.

Chapman said: “We hope to run two teams this year, fielding one in the Yorkshire Men’s League and the other in the merit league, so anybody looking to give rugby league a try, this could be their gateway.

“We struggled a bit in the first season when amateur rugby league went to summer, and in that off-season it was a case of getting out there and finding new players.

“That hard work paid off and we’ve been pretty much inundated with players, and if it’s the same again we’re really hopeful of getting two teams out. The seconds will play in the merit league, so it’s a case of playing as and when we can field two sides, rather than having the pressure of having to play every week.

“We’ve brought in players from other sports, like rugby union and football, or friends of friends who fancy coming down.

“The Rugby League World Cup has helped a bit in that regard, with it being in people’s minds. They want to give it a go.”

He added: “We’re going into the season in a confident mood, hoping to carry on our improvements on and off the field.”

Meanwhile, the Lokos’ popular annual Sportsman’s Lunch has been confirmed for Sunday, April 6, at the Park Inn.

The guest speakers and comedians are to be confirmed. Anyone wanting tickets can phone Chapman on 07415 341428.

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