NOVOSPORTS are proud to announce that France and Tonga will be playing for the Tas Baitieri Trophy at The Shay on October 8.
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The trophy has been named after a true pioneer of international rugby league, who after his retirement as a top-level second rower devoted his life to spreading the word of The Greatest Game Of All.
Tas Baitieri was at different times the game’s first International development officer, the French national coach and a dedicated employee of the NRL – along with just about everything else that needs doing in the sport, including putting the air in the ball.
NovoSports partner Steve Mascord says: “When I saw Tas on the cover of Rugby League Week (image below) near the end of the eighties standing in Red Square holding a copy of that magazine, my head just about exploded.
“This thing – the sport, not the mag – that I considered so quintessentially local suddenly lost its boundaries. It didn’t always have to be that way. You could take it with you wherever you went and it wouldn’t necessarily turn to dust like a vampire in the sun.
“In the years that followed I encountered Tas everywhere – in Europe, the Pacific, America. For literally decades he was the only bilingual rugby league official anyone seemed to know, making him the adhesive that kept the international game together as it struggled through its adolescence.
“Today Tas’ passion is the Kaiviti Silktails, the Fijian team playing in the Ron Massey Cup in Australia. And Tas’ passion isn’t ephemeral – it gets things done.
“You only need to look at the upcoming World Cup to know that. This epic event would not be possible without him.” France and Tonga meet at The Shay on October 8 at 2pm for the Tas Baitieri Cup.
The silverware is currently being crafted by veteran Leeds engraver Peter Russell and it is NovoSports’ hope it will be contested every time France takes on Tonga in future.
But Tas’ legacy will be eternal regardless.