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Killarney-made variant of rugby league set for international stage

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The Killarney-based makers of X-League (pronounced ‘cross’), a limited contact version of rugby league, recently announced a partnership with the sport’s governing body in England. The deal will see international teams compete in a X-League World Cup, which will run alongside the Rugby League World Cup proper in 2021. But how did a sport with Killarney roots go global? Adam Moynihan spoke to the game’s creator, Des Foy, to find out.

 

Hi Des. Thanks for speaking to me.

No problem, Adam.

Can you give me some background on your own career? I believe you played the game at the highest level.

Yeah, I played rugby league from 1980 to ’93. Mostly for Oldham, which is my hometown club. I played for a couple of other clubs as well, Widnes and Huddersfield, and I had a spell in Australia with the Newcastle Knights. I also went on tour with Great Britain to New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea in 1984.

And how did you end up in this part of the world?

Rugby league at the time was sort of semi-professional and most people had jobs as well. I worked for a water company for a few years and around the time I finished playing they were offering us either voluntary redundancy or to move to another office in another town. Me and my wife decided at the time that we’d take the money and run, and we came over here.

My wife’s actually from Sligo originally. She moved to England in her early teens and we met at school. We used to holiday in these parts quite a bit in the summer and we thought it would be a nice place to move. So we got the four kids and came over here in ’95.

25 years ago. So you’re an adopted son by this stage?

I’d like to hope so, yeah! I’ve still got this accent that makes people think that I’ve probably just arrived. But yeah, I’ve lived here most of my adult life.

Tell me about X-League. What is it?

It’s a rugby league variant which is similar to touch rugby and tag rugby. The main difference is that the tackle is made by the defender touching the ball when it’s in the possession of the opposition. Because of that, it introduces a little bit more contact then you normally would get in touch and tag. It’s much closer to the full contact game.

How did it come about initially?

It sort of came about around 2002 when I did a bit of defensive coaching with Declan Kidney at Munster, and a little bit with Matt Williams at Leinster the season before. I was trying to get players to focus on attacking the ball in the tackle. The rugby league tackling style is different to rugby union. In rugby league, stopping the ball is the key thing when you tackle – if you tackle the legs, the ball might still get offloaded so the tackle isn’t complete. So I used it a bit with Munster and when my son was in UCC we were trying to get people to play a bit of rugby league then.

I’m not a big fan of drills so we wanted a game that enabled us to have the feel and timing of a real rugby league match, and also introduce this idea of the defenders focussing on the ball. That’s where X-League came from, really.

You’ve been leading X-League sessions here in Killarney since 2014. Do the rules make it more inclusive than a full contact sport?

That’s very much the case. Personally, I’m in my fifties now so I’m not going to be playing full contact sport of any description! So it has given an opportunity to people like me to keep playing. When we play in Fossa, we have female players, teenagers, lads in their twenties, lads in their thirties, lads in their forties, and then I’m usually the oldest guy!

The reason we’ve pushed it more recently and we’ve changed the name (from EuroTag to X-League) and we’ve got the RFL in England interested is because it’s very inclusive. We came up with this game and it was to try and get people playing a version of rugby league, but we are very much now playing an inclusive version that enables lots of different people to take part.

When you think of rugby, it tends to be men from 18 to 35 and that’s about it. But this is a sport that includes a wider demographic.

You touched on that partnership with the RFL. How significant a step is that for X-League?

I think it’s massive. First of all, they have a budget! They’ll get money out of Sport England over there and finding games that are inclusive and draw people in who had previously gone away from the sport is important. They have a variants officer and he’s going to all the professional clubs to promote the different versions of rugby league. Hopefully we’ll get four or five of them on board this year and maybe more in the future. That’s the plan.  

And there’s a World Cup event on the cards?

Yes, the RFL and the Rugby League World Cup organisation will support us in putting on a competition at the time of the full World Cup in October/November 2021. So we’re planning on doing an event in Sheffield and Doncaster where some of the group games are being played. Over in Warrington there will be a physical disabilities World Cup and up in Newcastle there will be a masters for over 35s.

How many players are involved locally at the moment?

We have around 30 people on our list and we send out the text every week to see who’s available. If we don’t get 10 – if it’s a bad night or people are unavailable – then we don’t play. But we don’t miss many weeks, even when the weather is bad. Of course, new players are always welcome to join us on Thursdays at 7pm in Fossa. It’s a very easy game to get involved in and we’ll be happy to show you the ropes.

 

If you’re interested in taking part in X-League, contact Des on 086 8622522. 

 

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How to have the best skincare routine at home

By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio Home care is essential for glowing, youthful skin. It’s like brushing your teeth, it must be done twice a day. Step […]

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By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio

Home care is essential for glowing, youthful skin. It’s like brushing your teeth, it must be done twice a day.

Step one: Cleanse to remove sweat, oil, dirt and other pollutants that your skin naturally collects throughout the day and night. It’s the first step in your skincare routine and shouldn’t be rushed.

How to do it; Cleanse your skin in the morning and in the evening to keep your pores clear and your face fresh. Your cleanser may vary based on skin type, but with all cleansers, the general consensus is to apply them using an upward, circular motion so as to prevent wrinkles from forming. Make sure your hands are clean in order to prevent excess dirt from entering your pores.

Step two: There is a lot of confusion around toner, and when you’re first establishing a daily skincare routine, it may even seem unnecessary. But most experts agree that toning is an important addition to your skin care routine with beneficial effects for your skin. After you cleanse your skin of impurities, toner removes any residue left behind by the cleanser as well as any make-up or oils your cleanser might have missed. The added cleansing effects help prepare your skin to absorb moisturiser and minimise the appearance of pores. Some toners may have PH balancing and antiseptic effects as well. Apply toner right after you have cleansed your skin while it is still damp. The best way to apply it is with a cotton pad or cotton ball, simply soaking cotton pad with toner and wiping upward and out, starting at your neck.

Step 3: Exfoliate. Our skin is constantly shedding millions of skin cells every day, but sometimes those cells can build up on the surface of our skin and need some extra help to be removed. Exfoliating removes these dead skin cells that have accumulated in our pores. If you struggle with blackheads, acne or breakouts, you’re not going to want to miss this step.

It’s best to exfoliate after toning and before moisturising. You should exfoliate one to three times a week, but this depends on your skin type and how it reacts to exfoliation. Experiment and find what works best for you. There are chemical exfoliators and granule exfoliators such as your traditional sugar or salt scrub. Both can be effective tools for removing dead skin cells, but chemical exfoliating ingredients like AHA and BHA are often more effective in getting deep into your pores and removing buildup.

Properly cleansed skin will allow your next steps e.g. serums and moisturisers get to the right layers of the skin where they will be most effective.

For a skincare consultation or more advice just ask Jill on 064 6632966.

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Annual Christmas motorbike charity road run launched

The Kerry Bikers are hosting their annual Christmas Bike Run on December 18. The event will raise funds for St Francis’ Special School at St Mary of the Angels in […]

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The Kerry Bikers are hosting their annual Christmas Bike Run on December 18.

The event will raise funds for St Francis’ Special School at St Mary of the Angels in Beaufort and Eagle Lodge in Tralee.

Now in its sixth year, the run, which is organised by an amalgamation of several Kerry motorcycle clubs under the banner of Kerry Bikers, will visit Killarney.

The run gets underway at 10.30am from Tralee. The first stop off is in Sheahan’s Centra on the Muckross Road where the Tralee group will be joined by local motorcyclists before setting off on a yet to be decided route.

“We will announce the route in Killarney. Last year we went to Killorglin, Farranfore and Castleisland. This year Abbeyfeale and Listowel may be in reach and if so we will make donations to Nano Nagle Special School too,” organiser Dave Foley said.

Over one hundred motorcycles are expected to take part in the run. Last year the full convoy measured 1.6km from start to finish.

“We hope to exceed that this year,” added Foley

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