Title eludes league of extraordinary gentlemen by two lousy points

Skåne Crusaders too good for Copenhagen RLFC over the course of the season, even if the difference is a solitary penalty goal

Played at a similar speed to rugby union’s Six Nations, the inaugural rugby league Pan Scandinavian League, which concluded last Saturday with the Skåne Crusaders beating the Kungsbacka Broncos 56-0 in Lund, was over before you knew it – in just six weeks of bruising, fiercely competitive action that bodes well for the future of a sport that is taking off with a vengeance in this region.

To say every game was competitive would be a lie though, as the ones involving the Kungsbacka Broncos were distinctly one-sided. The Gothenburg-based side lost all four of their fixtures, conceding 286 points in the process and scoring just seven tries. But Rome wasn’t built in a day – just ask Italy who entered the aforementioned Six Nations for the first time in 2000 and only managed to avoid the wooden spoon in their fourth tournament.

Nevertheless, the league’s top two sides, Copenhagen RLFC and the Skåne Crusaders, played out two incredibly tight games, of which Skåne edged the first one 18-16 at home on March 30 before drawing 18-18 in another pulsating encounter in Copenhagen on April 20.

Played at the DTU, the game swung backwards and forwards as first Skåne led 8-0 and 12-6, before Copenhagen fought back – with its hooker Brian Brost in outstanding form with 16 tackles in the first half alone – to lead 18-12 with ten minutes remaining. But in the end, they couldn’t hang on.

To the experienced rugby league onlooker, some of the tries were a little unorthodox. Skåne’s first was out of the Chariots Offiah top drawer: a 90-metre run-in following an interception. While Andreas Anderson’s opener for CRLFC was more Aussie rules than league. A high bomb from the halfback and kicker Rich Groom, who ended the game with a three from three record, was batted back into play by Anderson and then gratefully gathered to score in the corner.

Copenhagen went on to comfortably defeat the Broncos 72-4 in Sweden in their final game to secure second place and underline their supremacy in this fixture. Kungsbacka will be hopeful of more teams joining next season – it is surely only a matter of time until some of the teams currently being formed in Jutland sign up.

Later this year, the region of Jutland will contest a three-match series against Copenhagen, and in the meantime, both regions’ national players have a certain Nordic Cup to reclaim from the Norwegians who took the honours in 2012 after Denmark had won the inaugural tournament in 2011.  

They may not have won the Pan Scandinavian title, but Copenhagen have made quite an impression in their first season. And with big hitters like Big Herbert Mulipola and Morten Dam increasingly preferring the gym to the confines of the club’s sponsor The Black Swan, there are genuine hopes of them returning to fitness in time for the challenge of bringing the trophy home in 2014.