Ashes Winners at New River – and they’re British!

15th March 2012

On Sunday there could be 5 British players who are Ashes winners in action at New River Stadium. It’s a long time since that happened in a professional rugby league game. British fans will need little reminder that it’s 42 years since Great Britain last won a full Ashes series against Australia.

But last summer saw the Great Britain Academic Lions beat their Australian counterparts in a series for the first ever time, winning two games and drawing one.

The squad was coached by Paul Fletcher, assisted by Clive Griffiths. Griffiths, who has coached at the top level in Wales in both rugby codes, is now head coach of North Wales Crusaders, who take on London Skolars at the weekend. He has signed up three of the successful squad for the Crusaders for the campaign in Co-operative Championship 1 – Lee Hudson and brothers Owen and Iwan Brown.

Skolars have always had very close links to the Student game since their foundation in 1995. Former Skolars Michael Sykes and Kris Hodson were also in the side that went down under, alongside current Skolars Chris McNamara and John Paxton.

Chris McNamara graduated from Loughborough University and joined Skolars after the victorious performance. John Paxton has been playing for Skolars since 2009, whilst at Leeds Metropolitan University. He is relishing the opportunity to line up against his former team-mates. “Tm looking forward to playing against them. They are all really tough competitors, although they are really nice guys off the field. Owen and Iwan are strong runners up front and Lee Hudson is a player who is really quick off the mark.”

“The Ashes win was a wonderful moment and surprised the Australians. It will be great to meet the three guys again after the game, but we’ll all be very determined to show that winning mentality on the pitch.”

After losing their opening games in the league, both sides will be looking for their first win of the 2012 campaign. The game starts at 3pm and is preceded by Skolars ‘A’ in a friendly against St Albans Centurions, the latter preparing for a season following their elevation into Conference 3. That game kick-offs at 12 noon at New River.


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