Rugby League clubs can learn from the style of our county champions

RUGBY AND wrestling are complementary sports. When Jonny Wilkinson grabbed an opposing player, lifted him up and clashed him down on his back he would not have been out of place in the Grasmere ring. The late Eddie Wareing, in his commentary on Rugby League, used to mention the Cumberland Hipe when the attacker was brought to a halt in a standing position before being lifted and dumped.

Each sport features strong bodily contact where each player tries to master the other with strength and skill, so it should be no surprise that Barrow Rugby League Club should make enquiries about wrestling training for their players. They hope to have an initial session to see if there are specific benefits to be gained, and then decide whether to develop it further. Apparently, wrestling training is used by other League clubs. Perhaps it is no accident that Wigan with its famous Rugby club is also the main area for Olympic Freestyle Wrestling in Britain. Obviously, the more technical chips like the hank and outside-stroke would be out of place on the rugby pitch, but the hipes, twists and half-buttocks would serve well to bring an opponent to ground with that bit of intimidation which is part of Rugby.

The greatest amalgamation of rugby and wrestling success was West Cumbrian Douglas Clark in the twenties and thirties when he played professional Rugby for Huddersfield and Great Britain, and was three times World Heavyweight wrestling champion, C & W Style.

Currently, several champion wrestlers are also successful rugby players: Lee Wall on the wing for Carlisle RUFC until a recent injury is the holder of two championships and a Grasmere title. Kendal forward Richard Harryman was Under 18 Champion in the nineties; ex-heavyweight champion Duncan Hutton plays for Morpeth and Northumberland, and Russell Housby of Silloth who has held boy championships over several years, plays for Cumbria Colts and has been in the Aspatria first team, playing out of position because he is too young to play in the front row.

I received a post-card last week from Ollolai in Sardinia, where the European Championships were held last year. The Sardinians won the team championship and the town has been allocated a special frank for their outgoing mail which has a picture of two wrestlers in the centre and Campionato Europeo Lotta (wrestling) Tradizionale in the surrounding circle. Carlisle Wrestlers will now be training on Wednesdays each week at 7.45 in Currock House Gym, instead of Fridays. Wrestlers at the Academies at Kendal and Milnthorpe were in competitive action last week. Milnthorpe ranks were boosted by the arrival of four youngsters from the same family and by an extra coach in the form of Ian Parsons who travelled from the Appleby area to help the young wrestlers.

A big Scottish wrestling event, The East Kilbride Opens, already postponed from December until February, has been further postponed in the expectation of some generous sponsorship later in the Spring.


Kendal Academy AgeCompetitons

Under 10 Years 1 B. Brocklebank 2 J. Hodgson 3 C. Hodgson

Under 12 Years 1 A. Thompson 2 J. Hodgson 3 C. Hodgson

Under 14 Years 1 G. Brocklebank 2 N. Bentham 3 T. Hodgson

Under 16 Years 1 N. Bentham 2 T. Hodgson 3 D. Parsons

Under 18 Years 1 G. Brocklebank 2 N. Bentham 3 T. Hodgson

Milnthorpe Academy

Under 12 Years 1 D. Parsons 2 S. Mason

Under 14 Years 1 A. Parsons 2 J. Burrow 3 S. Mason

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (May 4th 2011)

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