A disabled activist has told a parliamentary committee that the Scottish government should “speak out more forcefully” about disabled benefit claimants who have died as a result of the “fitness for work” test.John McArdle, co-founder of the Scottish grassroots campaign Black Triangle, was giving evidence to the Scottish parliament’s social security committee as it weighed up its priorities for the next session.McArdle appealed to the committee to the look at the issue of social security reform “through the lens of human rights”.He highlighted the harm caused by both the work capability assessment (WCA) – which tests eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA) – and the eligibility test for the new personal independence payment (PIP).And he told the committee: “The Scottish government must reject the underpinning of both these tests and it must speak out more forcefully about the number of people who have died and committed suicide after a WCA.”He pointed to the inquiry being carried out by the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities into allegations of “systematic and grave” violations of disabled people’s human rights in the UK.McArdle (pictured giving evidence) called on the Scottish government to demand a copy of the committee’s report, which is believed to have been sent to the UK government, but has not been published.He added: “One death is too many, but when we are getting stories of people committing suicide every other week and it’s in the newspapers we really need to speak up, because these flagrant human rights abuses are taking place on Scottish soil today.”The committee’s convenor, the SNP’s Sandra White, told McArdle: “A number of us around here have had cases that you are referring to.“Certainly as a committee we could write and ask for a copy of that report.”And she said that she and her colleagues could raise the issue with the UK government’s new work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, when he gives evidence to the committee next month as the UK government prepares to pass significant social security powers to the Scottish government and parliament.McArdle also told the committee that Black Triangle had submitted information to Police Scotland on the deaths of three former ESA claimants – David Barr, Paul Donnachie and a woman known only as Ms DE – whose deaths were all linked to failings in the WCA system.He said: “We believe an offence has been committed at Scottish law that a public official has wilfully failed to carry out their duty.”Although McArdle did not name them, the public officials named in the dossier handed to Police Scotland are former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and former employment minister Chris Grayling.McArdle said: “If disabled people cannot rely on the law to uphold their civil rights then it is a very sad day for Scotland.”And he said that these deaths, and others, showed that public agencies in Scotland needed to “put human rights at the very heart of their decision-making”.McArdle also told the committee that many local medical committees – the organisations that represent GPs and their practices to local NHS bodies – were “simply refusing to provide disabled people with the letters that they need to support their applications” for ESA.He also brandished a copy of Cash Not Care, the new book by disabled researcher Mo Stewart, which exposes how successive governments have planned the “demolition of the welfare state”.He said he would hand it to White after the meeting, and called for every one of her committee colleagues to be given a copy.McArdle also called for “a complete end on” to imposing sanctions on benefit claimants, which he said were “a violation of the fundamental human rights of individuals”.The SNP’s George Adam told fellow members of the committee that the PIP system was “more expensive” than disability living allowance, the benefit it is replacing for working-age claimants, while the companies carrying out PIP assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions – Atos and Capita – were “effectively making profit out of the misery of disabled people”.He said there was a need to bring “dignity and respect” to the disability benefits system.Summing up the evidence session, White said: “We need to make sure that people are treated with dignity and respect and, as Mr McArdle says, these horrific instances are not revisited again.”
Lawyers for the sister of a disabled man who died after his benefits were sanctioned have asked a coroner to explain why there was no inquest into his death.Gill Thompson has paid for the legal action through crowd-funding, raising more than £17, 000 in a bid to secure answers and change the system that she believes led to the death of her brother, David Clapson.Now the senior coroner in Hertfordshire, where Clapson (pictured) died in July 2013, has been asked by her lawyers why no inquest was ordered into his death.Thompson’s solicitor, Merry Varney, from human rights lawyers Leigh Day, said they were arguing that he died an “unnatural death” because of the benefit sanction imposed on him shortly before he died.She said: “We hope that these submissions will show the coroner that there is a reason to suspect that David died an unnatural death and that an investigation should be opened with a view to holding a full inquest into the circumstances of David’s death.”Clapson’s case was mentioned in prime minister’s questions yesterday (Wednesday) by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who described his and other deaths as “institutionalised barbarity”.In submissions to the Hertfordshire coroner, Leigh Day argue that “the role played by the imposition of a benefit sanction in Mr Clapson’s death, the systems in place to manage the risks posed by benefit sanctions to those who receive them, and the decision-making of Department for Work and Pensions staff when imposing benefit sanctions on vulnerable and at-risk individuals, are of wider public importance and are matters of significant public concern”.Hertfordshire senior coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said in a statement: “Coroners are judicial office holders and like other judges are not permitted to comment outside a courtroom on any of their cases (or indeed any other coroner’s cases) or discuss any decision they have made.”But Varney said there were strong legal arguments that Clapson was subjected to “inhuman or degrading treatment” under the Human Rights Act, and that the coroner’s decision breached the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.She said that inquests and coronial investigations play “a fundamental role in ensuring preventable or avoidable deaths are identified and that steps are taken to prevent another tragedy”.Varney has told Disability News Service (DNS) that she believes there are also strong grounds for legal action to be taken in many other cases in which there has been “culpable human failure” within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that has led to the deaths of benefit claimants.She said she was “surprised” that there did not appear to have been legal actions into other cases in which disabled people had died as a result of benefit sanctions or other welfare reforms, including the impact of the work capability assessment.She said: “I have seen these terrible stories reported but nothing about legal proceedings, and that surprises me.”Varney appealed to other families who have lost relatives in similar tragedies to contact Leigh Day.Thompson said she had raised the money to pay for the initial stages of the legal action through more than 900 crowd-funded donations.She said: “David died over money and like David I have never asked for anything in my life, so it was very hard. My husband can’t believe I have done all this.”But she added: “I will do whatever it takes. They can’t keep ignoring us.“I’m not going to give in. I know we have to have procedures and regulations, but they have to be fair.”Thompson said she still did not know if DWP had conducted a secret “peer review” into the circumstances of her brother’s death.She is continuing to highlight DWP’s refusal to accept the work and pensions select committee’s recommendation to set up a watchdog to investigate – if requested by relatives – the deaths of all working-age claimants of out-of-work benefits.Thompson was beside the red carpet in London’s Leicester Square with other campaigners at last month’s premiere of Ken Loach’s award-winning film I, Daniel Blake, which tells the story of a man with a heart condition who becomes caught up in the work capability assessment system.She held up a banner to show the names of people who have died as a result of sanctions and benefit cuts, including her brother.Thompson backed calls, reported last week by DNS, for a coroner to hold an inquest into the death of another disabled benefit claimant, Alan McArdle.Thompson said: “I think they should. I think they should look into all the deaths.”A coroner refused to hold an inquest into McArdle’s death even though he had a fatal heart attack an hour after being told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was threatening to stop his benefits.McArdle told the friend who had read the DWP letter to him: “They’ve sanctioned my money,” before he collapsed.A coroner argued that McArdle simply died from natural causes, just like the coroner in Clapson’s case, but Dr Stephen Carty, medical adviser to Black Triangle, said last week that emotional stress can cause a cardiac death, and added: “Subjecting patients such as Mr McArdle to extreme emotional distress such as this presents a substantial risk, one which in our opinion led to a sudden cardiac death.”Clapson died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an acute lack of insulin, three weeks after having his benefits sanctioned.Because of the sanction, his electricity key had run out of credit because he had no money, so the fridge where he kept his insulin was not working.An autopsy found his stomach was empty, and the only food left in his flat in Stevenage was six tea bags, a tin of soup and an out-of-date can of sardines. He had just £3.44 left in his bank account.But there has never been an inquest, even though DWP has admitted that it knew he was insulin-dependent.Clapson had previously worked for 30 years, including five years in the army, and recently as a carer for his mother, who had dementia, but had had his £71.70-a-week jobseeker’s allowance stopped for a month after he missed two meetings at his local jobcentre.CVs for job applications were found near his body, and he had been on work placements, passed a fork-lift truck qualification and attended a computer training course.
Disabled activists have told MPs and peers of their frustration at not being able to hold the government to account for its “grave or systematic” breaches of the UN disability convention.The UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) found in November that the UK government had discriminated against disabled people across three key parts of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), following a lengthy inquiry sparked by disabled activists.But the UK government dismissed the report’s conclusions and all 11 of its recommendations.Because the convention has not been incorporated into UK law, the government cannot be held accountable for the breaches in a court.But disabled activists told a parliamentary meeting organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Inclusion London this week that they would continue to push for the UN to do more to highlight the UK’s continuing breaches of the convention.Linda Burnip, co-founder of DPAC, said the government tried hard to bury the CRPD report in November, but she insisted: “It isn’t just fizzling out. It isn’t just going away.”Instead, she said, DPAC – whose activists triggered the UN inquiry – has produced a report for the UN that rebutts the government’s response.And as members of the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, DPAC and Inclusion London are compiling a new report that will be submitted to CRPD as part of the “periodic review” of the UK’s progress in implementing the convention as a whole.The government is expected to be questioned in public in Geneva about its overall progress in implementing the convention this summer.John McArdle, co-founder of the Scottish-based anti-cuts group Black Triangle, said: “We as campaigners just find it incredibly frustrating that you can’t hold ministers to account.”He added: “One of the things we would like to see is politicians of all stripes put aside their party political differences on the issue of the fundamental human rights of disabled people.“People are dying and being made destitute. It is time we all united.”Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said the “damning” report had exposed the “misery and the hardship we know disabled people are experiencing right now”.She said: “The position of the government in their response is one of blanket denial… it denies there is a social care crisis, yet we all know just a few months down the line that this position is now politically untenable.“We see the same equally unconvincing denial from the government to the inquiry’s other findings.”She said the situation for disabled people was “getting worse”, with imminent cuts to payments for some new claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA), removal of the severe disability premium through the introduction of universal credit, a freeze on many benefits and huge cuts to social care budgets.And she pointed to research – reported by Disability News Service (DNS) earlier this month – that shows NHS bodies introducing policies that give them the right to “shunt disabled people deemed too expensive into residential and nursing homes against their wishes”.Lazard said the government must “stop dismantling our rights”.Baroness Deech, the crossbench peer who chaired the meeting, said the government had “brushed aside” the CRPD report, just as it had brushed aside the report produced last year by the Equality Act 2010 and disability committee, which she chaired.No government minister attended this week’s meeting, with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) instead sending a civil servant.Stephanie Harvey, a senior policy adviser for the Office for Disability Issues, said: “I understand some of the feelings expressed here as regards the inquiry and its response.”She said the government wanted to “engage with stakeholders” through the periodic review process and then “work together” to address the issues raised.But Baroness Deech told Harvey that the message coming through from disabled people was “already quite clear”.She said: “I don’t know how much more consultation we need. We know the message. It’s the government’s response we are waiting for.”She also criticised the Labour party, which has been repeatedly questioned in recent months over its commitment to disability equality.It has failed to appoint a shadow minister for disabled people, failed to follow through on a promised letter to Labour-run councils on the Independent Living Fund, and withdrew an invitation to a disabled people’s organisation (DPO) to speak at a disability equality consultation launch because the DPO said it wanted to speak about independent living.And last month, most of Labour’s peers abstained on a vote that would have forced bars, shops and restaurants to ensure their premises obeyed laws on accessibility when renewing their alcohol licences.Asked by Baroness Deech why Labour had “sat on its hands”, shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said she was unaware of the vote, but added: “That’s disappointing.”And asked by DNS why Labour had not yet called for a Commons debate on the CRPD report – as promised more than two months ago by shadow chancellor John McDonnell – Abrahams said: “We will bring it forward as soon as we can.”Among those who spoke at the meeting was Nichole Drury, who gave evidence to the CRPD inquiry.She told the CRPD investigators how her mother’s out-of-work benefits had been removed because she had twice been too unwell to attend a work capability assessment.Her mother, Moira, had a number of serious health conditions, but spent the last six months of her life fighting DWP over its decision. She was only finally awarded employment and support allowance after she died.Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green party, praised the “landmark” and “absolutely damning” UN report and criticised the “entirely inadequate response” from the government, which he said was “an absolute scandal”.He said: “We absolutely support the recommendations and the findings of the UN report.“I think we need to be calling very much for them to be implemented.”He called for a dual strategy of campaigning both inside and outside parliament for the report’s recommendations to be implemented.The Liberal Democrat president, the disabled peer Baroness [Sal] Brinton, said: “I am going to be quoting the CRPD at length to make sure the government hangs its head in shame when it clearly breaches it.”She said there was a need to highlight individual stories and persuade the government to move away from the approach of the work and pensions secretary Damian Green, of “complete denial that there is a problem”.Abrahams said she was “disappointed” with the government’s response to the UN report, and that she believed there should be “repurcussions”, while the report had “certainly influenced the position the Labour party is taking with our policy development process”.Backbench Tory MP Heidi Allen, who has spoken out against the ESA cuts, said she believed that the new minister for disabled people, Penny Mordaunt, “genuinely wants to get it right” and has “a real energy and determination to genuinely engage with disabled communities and to not assume she has all the answers”.The SNP’s disability spokeswoman, Corri Wilson, said the report “should have sent shock waves to the core of this government”, and she criticised its “insufficient response”.Picture: Some of the speakers at the meeting, including Nichole Drury (far left), Linda Burnip (speaking, centre), Baroness Deech (next to Burnip) and Baroness Brinton (far right)
Labour has shut down campaign tools after an ex-Labour MP now belonging to “The Independent Group” accessed protected data, according to the party.Organise, the party’s volunteer management and communications tool for assisting organisers to build activity locally, is “offline for maintenance”, the website reads.Labour has also closed access to Contact Creator, the online tool used by paid and volunteer organisers to produce materials for canvassing sessions and input campaign data picked up on the doorstep.Users attempting to access the site are told it has been closed “for technical reasons” and is “unlikely to be up again today”.A Labour spokesperson commented: “We have become aware of attempts to access personal data held on the party’s systems by individuals who are not authorised to do so. Personal data the party holds about individuals is protected by law, under the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018.“We are aware that the Information Commissioner is taking an increasingly serious view of misuse of personal data and requires a data controller to take reasonable and proportionate steps to ensure the security of data held on its systems. The Labour Party takes our data protection obligations extremely seriously.”But a spokesperson for The Independent Group has denied the allegation: “The Labour Party has not contacted The Independent Group concerning this issue. If the Labour Party has a specific allegation they should come forward.“None of The Independent Group MPs, or their offices, have had access to or accessed personal data held on the Labour Party’s systems since the MPs resigned on Monday.”Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby warned staff about data protection breaches today. The email states: “As you know, personal data the party holds about individuals is protected by law, notably by the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018.“That data includes membership records, voter ID and other information generated in the course of our activities.“Data held by the party, including within Contact Creator and other systems used for election or other campaigning work, may only be accessed by individuals who are authorised to access it, and may be used only for purposes authorised by the party as data controller.“Much of the data held on our systems tends to reveal individuals’ political opinions and is therefore “special category” data, benefitting from enhanced protection under the legislation.”Commenting on the news, a Labour source said: “Only three days into its existence and the Independent Group is already a shambles. They’re refusing to report who their donors are, they’ve registered as a private company to avoid doing so, and now there might be evidence of data theft. They embody everything that’s broken in the politics of the past.”Tags:Labour /The Independent Group /Contact Creator /Organise /
“Lawler just made his first hollandaise today,” Alaric said. “Really?” I said, not actually interested, but vaguely curious to see where this was going.“Yeah,” he said. “I’m really proud.” He was a young guy who looked like he had come here from L.A.., full of enthusiasm about what a cool city we are, full of opportunity. The kind of enthusiasm that I can’t really hold against someone, even though it gives me a rash. “Well,” he said after a moment’s thought, “my girlfriend helped. Actually, she made it, if I’m being honest. And I helped.”I gave him a skeptical look. “Did you really help? Or were you just in the kitchen?”I’d caught him, and we both knew it. “She doesn’t really let me in the kitchen.”I nodded. There should be truth between us. “Do you want a drink, THE Benjamin Wachs?” Alaric asked. We go way back, but it’s been months since we’ve seen each other. “Yeah,” I said. “It’s what I’m here for.”“What do you want?”I gave her a skeptical look. “Come on, it doesn’t really matter what I say, you’re going to make what you make and I’m going to drink it.” There should be truth between us. “Coming up!” she agreed.For the last five years, I have told anyone who cared to listen that San Francisco has many good bars, and some great bars, but that there is only one bar that matters: OddJob, on Mission, home to the Standing Room Only (SRO) program. A damn good bar on the outside (when you turn right) with a perfect “bar-within-a-bar” cathedral at its center (when you turn left), a sacred space for nightlife, a place of miracles and wonders. That may not be true anymore. We’re going to have to wait and see. It was already coming apart at the seams when new ownership bought it, and now they’re struggling with new staff, a new vision … honestly, I was expecting to be depressed when I walked in. I thought this was going to be a sad story.“Here’s what we’re doing,” Alaric told me and Lawler. “Each of you think of your most recent existential crisis, and then describe it in three words. Go!”Lawler came up with “Substance, plans, others.” I came up with “Dasein, daimonic, stasis.”“Whoa, wait a minute,” he said. “Dasein?”Dammit, I can get too pretentious about these things. “It’s a term used by Heidegger …”“You’re using an existentialist term to describe an existential crisis? If you’re doing that, are you really saying anything?”I stared. I had been prepared to take some deserved heat over having been pompous, but he’d taken this in a completely different direction. I took a deep breath. “Okay, just to be clear, you’re throwing down with me over the quality of my existentialist shop-talk?”“Yeah, I think I am, because … ”“BECAUSE LET ME EXPLAIN SOMETHING TO YOU, LITTLE MAN!” I leaned forward, got into his face. “I apply Heidegger with the care and precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, which is why you don’t get some shitty Satrean concept like ‘being-for-others,’ or any indirect ontology Merleau-Ponty nonsense. But if I wanted to — IF I WANTED TO — I would fucking go back to goddamn Edmund Husserl and reference the classic epoche and the ‘spirit of owness,’ and you would sit there AND TAKE IT, because you think you’re being clever but you don’t actually know SHIT about the origins or terminology of existentialism, DO YOU?” I stood up from my chair. “DO YOU?”He stared at me for a moment. Neither of us were sure what was happening. He blinked. “I think I’ve learned my lesson.”I sat back down. “Yeah, I thought so.”Alaric popped back over. “THE Benjamin Wachs, I love it when you yell. Would you like another mystery drink?”I did. The new management has been developing a new drink menu for the bar on this side of the building — but it wasn’t ready that night, so Alaric was improvising. It’s as dangerous as it is fun. But this is a bar very much in flux.Lawler’s friends Kevin and Danielle came over. They were all going to see a show later, but for now they were drinking, and we demanded that they play our game. Kevin couldn’t come up with three words, not all night, but Danielle went straight to “Heartbreak leaving San Francisco.” Which is technically four words, but still such a compact and relatable story for our time that Alaric and I accepted it instantly.Lawler didn’t. “I don’t know if that’s really an existential crisis,” he said.We gaped. “Are you fucking kidding me with this?” I asked him. “You know, if you really want to get technical,” Alaric said, “I’m not sure if ‘substance, plans, others’ represent an existential crisis so much as a first-world problem.”Mic drop. All his friends laughed, and he admitted it was probably true. A moment later, his girlfriend, Megan, joined them, and sat between us. Her three words were: “tumultuous cocaine awakening.” She and Lawler make quite the pair.“I understand,” I said to Megan, having no idea what else to say, “that you made a hollandaise sauce today.”She tilted her head. “Yes, how did you … ” then she shrugged, putting it together. “I understand,” she said back to me, “that you’re THE Benjamin Wachs?”I sighed. “Yeah, apparently.”“And you write about bars?”I grimaced. “Something like that.”“So what’s the best bar you’ve ever been to here?”I hate that question. “Well, it depends on what you’re looking in for in a bar, what kind of experience you want to … ” I stopped. “Wait. Question: Have you ever been here before?”“Here?”“Yeah.”“No, first time.”“Ah, well then. In fact the greatest bar experience in the entire Bay area is sometimes within that archway there, through the curtains.”“Really?”“Yeah. If you turn left when you’re coming in the entrance.”“Can I … ”“Yeah. I’ll introduce you to it. It’s actually better to be introduced to it. The perfect storm. Alaric, save my drink, I’m going into Desmond’s territory.”“Yeah, it’s here waiting for you,” Alaric said. “Unless I drink it. But this chair will always be yours. Your chair. You’ll always have that. Just maybe not a drink.”We walked from OddJob’s long, luxuriously spacious, industrially furnished main room into a small, dimly lit side room, where a heavily tattooed man was surrounded by an alchemist’s lab of a bar, making drinks for a man and a woman. “Hey, what were your three words?” Megan asked me.“Dasein, daimonic, and stasis.”She considered. “I don’t know what that means, but it sure sounds like a crisis to me.”“THANK you! I thought so.”The tattooed bartender, Desmond, looked up at me. “Benjamin!” he said. “I haven’t seen you here in a long …”“Wait, wait!” said the man getting a drink. “Is his name Benjamin?”“Yeah,” Desmond said. “I’m Benjamin too!” the man said cheerfully.“He is!” the woman with him agreed. “There are now two Benjamins!”“Well … ” I couldn’t believe I was saying this. “It turns out I’m THE Benjamin, you see … ““He is,” Desmond confirmed.“Yeah, it’s true,” Megan said. “THE Benjamin.”“Really?” the other Benjamin said. “Oh, okay. I guess I can’t feel bad about that.”“I think we can handle this,” the woman, Rachel, said.Later, we would discover that other-Benjamin’s existential crisis is: “who can forgive?” And Rachel’s existential crisis is: “what is art?” Later, we would discover that I actually know Megan’s boss, who I have been through several existential crises with. (“Malicious desert clowns.”)But for now … since what happens in the bar to the left is another story — for now — I am pleased to tell you that the magic is still lingering at OddJob, a flame that, though low, can still be rekindled, if given care. It could still be the only bar that matters. Not everything here, not yet, is heartbreak leaving San Francisco. Read more from Benjamin Wachs here. “This is my new friend Lawler,” Alaric the bartender said to me, indicating the man I was sitting down next to at the bar. “We just met tonight. Lawler, this is Benjamin Wachs. THE Benjamin Wachs. I love him more than you do.” She was going to introduce me like that all night. It was going to be that kind of night. Oddjob’s entrance is in an alley named Washburn. When you walk in, you are immediately confronted with a choice: turn right, or left. If you turn right, you go into a big, spacious, bar with industrial furnishings, booths, lots of chairs, and plenty of places to stand. Plus, a mechanical robot that can make one drink. If you go left, you enter a small room with no chairs. They are two very different experiences. People who want a bar turn right. People who want magic turn left. Normally, I always turn left, but tonight I was visiting Alaric, so I was sitting at the big bar. For now, let’s talk about the bar to the right. Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Email Address
HERE it is… take a look at Saints brand new away shirt for 2011. In Graphite Grey with Red and White detail, its fashionable look and feel is perfect for wearing on matchnights and or for leisure – a winner for Saints’ fans of all ages. Replica Shirts are made from Polyester Apex Material and feature embroidered crest and sponsor logos. For the first time all replica shirts come with Super League sleeve badges fitted as standard. The shirt will be on sale this Saturday (Jan 8) and Saints have held the price of the shirt at pre-VAT increase levels. If you buy before January 31 2011, you can get it at the pre-VAT increase price of £44.99 Adults XS-4XL, £46.99 Adults 5XL-6XL and £32.99 Kids/Toddlers. Reaction to the shirt has been excellent amongst the first team squad, staff and sponsors. Sue Weir, chief executive of Liverpool health cash plan provider Medicash, said: “As headline sponsors of the Saints we are really pleased with the design of the shirt – it looks fantastic and compliments the home kit that has already been well received by fans. “We are looking forward to another successful season with the Saints and are sure the kits will make a great impression both on and off the pitch. “Medicash is committed to making a real difference to the Club, its fans and the people of St Helens. Saints does invaluable work within the community and through our partnership we aim to continue developing projects together which we hope will benefit more individuals and organisations across the region.” Shirts will be on sale from the Saints Superstore from Saturday Jan 8 and online at www.saintssuperstore.com
THE best Rugby League players in the world will collide in 2015 in a newly-expanded six-team World Club Series.The annual clash between the First Utility Super League champions and the Telstra NRL Premiers will again take centre stage next February. But in 2015 the two Grand Final winners will be joined by two other clubs from each competition.The World Club Series will be played in the UK over three days from Friday February 20 to Sunday February 22, climaxing in the World Club Challenge to determine the world’s best club Rugby League team.South Sydney Rabbitohs and Brisbane Broncos have already confirmed their involvement in the World Club Series, even if they do not win this year’s NRL Grand Final. Other NRL clubs have expressed interest in joining this year’s Premiers in taking part in the challenge.Super League will be represented by the 2014 Grand Finalists plus the third highest ranked team from the northern hemisphere competition.The schedule and ticketing details will be announced later this year once the identity of the clubs involved is confirmed.For more information about the World Club Series visit www.superleague.co.uk/worldclubseries
KYLE Amor is backing Saints to regroup and kick on despite their indifferent form.The men from Langtree Park lie sixth in the First Utility Super League with five wins – and face a tricky trip to leaders Warrington this Friday.But the big marra says Saints just need to keep on working hard – and results will follow.“Sometimes those sort of games [the loss to Hull FC] make you feel worse than when we get beaten well,” he told Wish FM. “The effort was there but they managed the game better and took their opportunities.“We had to control the energy battle and we did that, but they managed the game a little better. We tried hard but were just a little off.“We are down on numbers but won’t use that as an excuse. You have to trust in the squad and we do have a good one here. Those guys coming in have to step up and contribute the best they can.“It is all about sticking together, working hard and I’m sure if we knock wins off we will be in the hunt at the end of the year.“Warrington are playing really well. We need to recover, regroup, train hard and then get over there and put in a good performance to kick start our season.”Members can buy reduced priced tickets for this Friday’s match at Warrington.Details for that game, and the home games with Catalan and Leeds can be found here.
In all the games this season so far the Saints have started poorly and been playing catch-up.Not so today as the attitude to put the students in their place was right from the off and they just blew the visitors away in the first 15 minutes with a five try blitz.But as ever the attacking side is set up by the defensive side and from the kick-off the Saints contained the visitors with some tigerish tackling restricting their yardage and so starting with good field position.Led by Greg Richards, the Saints marched downfield with Danny Richardson putting up a peach of a bomb which was spilled by the Universities full back. Jake Spedding picked up the loose ball, fed Liam Cooper then watched him go in unopposed for the first of his brace. Danny Richardson converted the first of his 11 goals in a display of imperious kicking.Inexplicably the Universities kicked early on their next set giving Ricky Bailey easy ball. The full back ran at the line then fed Matty Fleming who made use of Spedding outside to throw a dummy and shoot through the gap. He pinned back his ears outpacing the cover over 60 metres, then showed marvellous ball control as, when caught, he still managed to touched down despite being on his back.Next to start his double was Bailey whose pace at the back troubled the visitors all day. He broke down the right before cutting back to the sticks standing up his opposite number beautifully.Cooper got his second after a great transition from defence into attack by Bailey, Jack Owen and Calvin Wellington. The ball was spread right from the play the ball only for Richardson to put Cooper way with a great short pass.The match was well and truly put to bed when Richardson got in on the act jinking his way left and right to score.However, instead of continuing to be ruthless the Saints started to drop the ball, completing only two of their last eight sets and gifting two tries to the visitors.The Saints had the final say when Jack Owens miss pass found Dave Eccleston who tip-toed down the line to score in the left corner.The poor last 20 minutes continued at the start of the second as the Universities scored their third try again a soft one at dummy half.But the Saints gradually regained their composure and put the visitors to the sword.Jack Owens scored coming back on the angle and beating the cover to the posts.We were then treated to a piece of individual brilliance from Bailey. The full back took the restart kick, skirting the line until he found his hole and he was through and gone before most people had even noticed. 95 metres later he was touching down under the sticks having outpaced the cover.Jordan Gibbons’ reach into the right corner completed a three try, ten minute burst before the Saints conceded yet another soft dummy half try.Normal service was, thankfully resumed with Spedding backing up superbly to take Owens’ pass after a great break.Gibbons got his brace taking Richardson’s miss pass and the final try was scored when Owens’, hemmed in on all sides, mesmerised the Universities with his dancing feet eventually shooting through a gap, passing inside to the supporting Spedding who fed Fleming to go over unopposed.There were good performances across the park but a special mention should go to Christian Kellett making his debut at this level who went off after two minutes with concussion but came back to do a further 30 good minutes with and without the ball.But the half back pairing of Owens and the imperious Richardson coupled with the pace of Bailey out the back was too much for the visitors every time.Match Summary:Saints:Tries: Liam Cooper (2 & 12), Matty Fleming (5 & 75), Ricky Bailey (8 & 50), Danny Richardson (15), Dave Eccleston (34), Jack Owens (48), Jordan Gibbons (58 & 70), Jake Spedding (66).Goals: Danny Richardson (11 from 12).England Universities:Tries: Dom Bryan (26), Matt Ross (30), Kieran Smith (41), Lewis Lord (63).Goals: Sam Druce (3 from 4).Half Time: 36-10Full Time: 70-22Teams:Saints:1. Ricky Bailey; 2. Matty Fleming, 3. Jake Spedding, 4. Calvin Wellington, 5. Dave Eccleston; 19. Jack Owens, 6. Danny Richardson; 8. Greg Richards, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Brad Clavering, 11. Liam Cooper, 12. Will Jubb, 13. Jonah Cunningham.Subs: 16. Christian Kellett, 17. George Milton, 18. Ben Sims, 22. Jake Butler-Fleming, 25. Jordan Gibbons.England Uni:33. Jacob Morgan; 5. Elliot Hall, 3. Zack McComb, 4. Dan Harrison, 29. Nathan Hill; 1. Kieran Smith, 31. Sam Druce; 36. Aaron Hall, 30. Jake Reed, 22. Josh Halstead, 13. Jack Lazenby, 12. Marcus Stock, 11. Matt Ross.Subs: 8. Liam Wood, 15. James Mason, 16. Kieran Sherratt, 20. Josh Hamilton, 23. Lewis Lord, 25. Dom Bryan, 28. Sam Swire, 34. Lewis Taylor, 35. Mike Quickenden.
Mark Percival crossed the 500th point barrier for the club with a try and three goals whilst there were good performances off the bench from Luke Thompson, Morgan Knowles and Luke Douglas.The win was built on solid defence that needed to be on its mettle from the off.Charly Runciman fumbled over the line after just four minutes as Widnes made a lively start.Saints then defended four sets in a row and it wasn’t until the tenth minute that they managed to get into their opponent’s 20.Widnes continued to press and arguably should have been in front by the time Saints hit them with a cracker.The ball was moved with pace down the left, Regan Grace cut back inside and then offloaded for Mark Percival to go under the posts.And moments later Saints forced an error from Widnes in midfield and provider turned scorer for 10-0.Grace beating Jack Johnson for pace.Percival went close on 33 minutes as he took a bullet from Jonny Lomax and moments later the fullback just couldn’t find Grace on the wing.10-0 at half time would have probably pleased Justin Holbrook considering Widnes’ start – but he would have been less than impressed with the opening stages of the second.Saints looked fairly comfortable until a series of penalties, a couple harsh from a home point of view, gave the Vikings the perfect platform for Ryan Ince to score in the corner.But his side hit back through big Alex Walmsley.After Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was held up – on his 300th career appearance – the big prop crashed over from close range.Saints then turned up the heat and put the game out of reach; Ryan Morgan flying over on 60 minutes to extend the lead further following a slick passing move.Zeb Taia was held up over the line as the game entered its final stages, then Danny Craven ensured the home side would have a few jitters with a try under the posts.But Theo Fages, who had been lively throughout, put the game to bed when he charged down a kick, waited an eon for it to drop, and then put it down to the right of the posts.Mark Percival capping a man of the match display with his third conversion – his 500th point in the red vee.Match Summary:Saints: Tries: Percival, Grace, Walmsley, Morgan, Fages Goals: Percival (3 from 5)Vikings: Tries: Ince, Craven Goals: Craven (1 from 2)Penalties Awarded: Saints: 13 Vikings: 9HT: 10-0 FT: 26-10REF: S MikalauskasATT: 10,474Teams:Saints: 1. Jonny Lomax; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 28. Regan Grace; 6. Theo Fages, 7. Matty Smith; 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 36. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: 14. Luke Douglas, 16. Luke Thompson, 20. Morgan Knowles, 24. Danny Richardson.Vikings: 21. Jack Johnson; 28. Ryan Ince, 17. Stefan Marsh, 4. Charly Runciman, 2. Corey Thompson; 40. Rangi Chase, 33. Aaron Heremaia; 15. Gil Dudson, 31. Jordan Johnstone, 10. Jack Buchanan, 12. Matt Whitley, 11. Chris Houston, 13. Hep Cahill. Subs: 20. Manase Manuokafoa, 23. James Chapelhow, 25. Tom Olbison, 32. Danny Craven.