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Exhibition vs. New Zealand All Blacks a precursor to rugby league

BY BRIAN SANDALOW
Sun-Times Network

The USA Eagles’ 74-6 loss Saturday to the New Zealand All Blacks showed just how far America has to go before competing at the top levels of international rugby. As Eagles captain Todd Clever repeated during the week, a big part of growing the sport is the establishment of a reputable professional league.

Those words mean something to Michael Clements, the founder of the planned National Rugby Football League. The NRFL has announced a demonstration match next August against England’s Leicester Tigers before its full launch in 2016, and Clements sees his prospective league as a big part of rugby’s future.

“It takes a complete roster of different individuals to make up a high-level, elite team,” Clements said. “We know that we have that here in the States. It’s just a matter of letting people realize that you can make money at this playing it and they can have a career in it.”

On the road

The Wolves continued their nine-game road trip with a 3-1 win Wednesday over the Grand Rapids Griffins. Forwards Terry Broadhurst, Philip McRae, and Ty Rattie scored and Jordan Binnington made 26 saves to help the Wolves improve to 6-2-2-0 overall.

The trip is tied for the longest in franchise history, matching ones taken during the 1996-97 and 2006-07 seasons. The Wolves don’t return home until Nov. 22, and still have seven games remaining on the trip.

Another honor

The Lyme Research Alliance announced Wednesday that Sky forward Elena Delle Donne will serve as its first national ambassador. Delle Donne has dealt with Lyme Disease since 2008 and missed 17 games this season after a flare-up of its symptoms.
She also serves as a global ambassador for the Special Olympics.