EurFed RLEF - League Overseas - General

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The RLEF has issued the following short statement having been in direct contact with key personnel from the proposed ‘Euro XIIIs’ organising group earlier this week.

It states: “We held a positive meeting, enabling greater understanding of the respective plans and objectives for European club rugby league competition. Further dialogue will continue over the coming weeks. The RLEF will be making no further comment at this stage.”
 

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The Board of Nationaler Rugby League Deutschland e.v. has inaugurated a Hall of Fame on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of Germany’s first international rugby league encounter, a seven-a-side match with Holland in 2005.

“We have been thinking of starting a Hall of Fame for some time and decided that marking this occasion would be the right one”, said NRLD President Bob Doughton.

“There was no doubt who the first inductee should be; Simon Cooper, the man who started rugby league in Germany.”

Simon was inducted for his services to the sport, contributing massively both on and off the field for nearly 17 years. He started gathering players to participate back in 2003, played in 13 internationals and was joint coach for a further eight games before contracting cancer which has prevented him from further active participation.

Serving on the board, he was instrumental in the development of the BundesLeague, the German domestic league, and last year the NRLD Board started a new cup competition which was named the Cooper Cup in his honour.
 

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Serbia's rugby league clubs resumed training n May after a two month lay off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their competitions were suspended in the middle of March, after completion of the opening rounds, but now local governments have loosened lockdown measures in the country and outdoor sports are among the first organized activities to get permission to go back to work.

The SRL will recommence in June with Serbian Cup ties; Car Dušan Silni Paraćin facing Red Star Belgrade, Beogradski ORK hosting Partizan, and Dorćol Tigers Belgrade versus Radnički New Belgrade.
 

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The RLEF board has announced the postponement of the 2020 Americas Championship, that was due to be played in November in Kingston Jamaica for the first time, also featuring USA, Canada and Chile.

The principal reason behind the decision is that the South American country has still not yet reached its Covid-19 infection peak and rates are still high in the USA and Canada, potentially putting players and staff at risk.

In addition, there is now insufficient time to prepare the nations properly with domestic competitions having been suspended because of coronavirus, and there has been a consequent impact on potential funding and sponsorship.
 

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The Association of Russian Rugby League Clubs board of directors has announced Alexander Kolikov as its new president.

Kolikov has been involved with the sport in the country since 1983, and as a highly regarded player and coach of Spartak Moscow brings a wealth of experience to his new role. He also has a track record in boxing and wrestling.
 

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Following a meeting of the Rugby League European Federation board, agreement has been reached on the status of the four-tier 2020 European Championships.

It has been confirmed that the men’s European Championship A, due to be played in October/November 2020 will be cancelled, whilst the men’s European B, C and D Championships, also due to be played in October 2020, have been postponed and are now rescheduled for 2021 - which will signify the start of the qualification process for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.

Commenting on the outcome, chairman of the RLEF board, Maurice Watkins CBE noted: “It was an incredibly difficult decision, with every consideration taken into account and what we believe to be the right one regrettably made. The nations involved are at different stages regarding the scale and impact of the coronavirus pandemic, some have moved on considerably since the first consultation calls in April, whilst others have not responded at the same rate.

All nations may still seek to arrange bilateral matches against each other outside of a tournament format as an alternative in 2020. In 2022, the European Championship A competition will increase to a record eight nations with the projected inclusion of England and the top side from the men’s 2021 European Championship B, who will be promoted for the first time.
 

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Debut nations across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair variants of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which will be held together for the first time in England next year, have expressed their enhanced excitement following yesterday’s fixture reveal.

Brazil’s women will open their competition against the hosts in a double header at Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds on November 9, team manager Rob Burgin
commenting: “The Amazonas are excited to give a strong account of themselves, for Latin America and on behalf of all developing nations. To have our nation of 210 million people facing hosts England in the women's World Cup opener was something we could only dream of a few short years ago. The squad is already training hard and determined to bring the most entertaining facets of rugby league to fresh eyes around the world.”

Norway make their wheelchair bow at London’s Copperbox Arena facing Spain two days later, and Norway RL president Karl-Fredrik Velle noted: “The schedule gives us enough rest between games to help us focus on developing the sport during the World Cup. Our team is motivated and ready for the big event. Right now we don’t know when we can have regular training again because of Covid-19 restrictions but this is a real boost for us to look forward to.”

In the men’s tournament, Greece face France in their opener in Doncaster on October 25, in a group with England and Samoa. Head coach Steve Georgallis confirmed: “We're extremely excited to be part of the Rugby League World Cup in 2021. Clearly the opening match is a history-making occasion for everyone involved with Rugby League in Greece and all those around the world who have supported us on this long journey.

There is similar anticipation in Jamaica, who become the first Caribbean nation to play in the finals series. They open against Ireland also in Leeds on October 25; New Zealand and Lebanon in their group. Head coach Romeo Monteith said: “We are very excited to open our World Cup campaign against Ireland. They are a solid team and we hope to be able to match them step-for-step and produce a spectacle for the fans. Facing New Zealand second will be a tough assignment but we will be ready to put our best foot forward. We have Lebanon last and we know they are a quality team. Like us, they are a developing nation in the sport and this bodes well for another fantastic fixture.”

The full draw can be found here - https://www.rlwc2021.com/schedule
 

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Lebanese Rugby League Federation is appealing to the international rugby league community to raise funds to aid relief after devastating explosions in Beirut.

On the afternoon of 4 August 2020, two explosions occurred at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The extremely powerful second blast resulted in at least 157 deaths, 5,000 injuries, US$10–15 billion in property damage and an estimated 300,000 people made homeless.

The Lebanese Rugby League Federation (LRLF) has organised an appeal to raise funds which will go directly to support the relief effort and to support the Lebanese first responders.
 

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A round up of potential return to play activity across the RLEF regions following widespread lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, shows a varied picture.

Positive signs have come from Czechia where Lukáš Hergott, prezident of the Česká Asociace Rugby League confirms: “We have rescheduled, League 1 will start on 29 August with four teams (from seven clubs) competing in a full home and away format which should end by 8 November. It’s unclear yet if there will be a play-off with a Grand Final or not. League 2 will start on 22 August with three clubs (and unlimited interchanges), that competition should end by 31 October and we will review promotion from it.

In Russia, the Moscow Cup should begin this month with midweek matches between four clubs, and the Cup of Russia held in November/December 2020 involving 20 clubs covering five regions, with a double-header semi final. January-March 2021 should see the Russian Super League commence with up to eight of the best teams competing, whilst two 9s tournaments are scheduled take place in July and August 2021.

Belgium RL is also formulating a new development plan for the next three years, with the aim of the aim of becoming an affiliate member of the RLEF. As part of it, a new club has been formed in Brussels, the Bulls, and according to BRLA president, Zakaria Zoubir, there is an anticipated return for the national side which has been in hiatus for three years.

Whilst no domestic activities are currently planned in Albania, their leading club side Tirana is scheduled to participate in the Greek League next season for the first time, where another new club from just outside Athens, Perama Tigers, has been formed.

Rugby League Ireland is running a shortened domestic season for six clubs throughout August in two groups comprising: Group A – Barrow Cudas, Galway Tribesmen, Cork Bulls; and Group B – Longhorns, Dublin Exiles, Athboy.

Turkey RL has cancelled a Balkan U18 tournament and put their international beach rugby league festival on hold, and there is no open age domestic activity yet in Norway although a 9s tournament in October is planned. However, kids and youth training up to the age of 19 there is starting to recommence.

Germany are planning a coaching course and national training weekend for when they return, and the French Elite Leagues are scheduled to restart at the end of October.

In the Ukraine, the rugby league authorities are awaiting confirmation from the government as to a resumption but have said that they would like to hold a beach tournament in Odesa on 22 August as a forerunner to their Cup starting the following week, along with U16 and U19 competitions. The URLA Super League and U12 and U14 age groups are set to begin some time in September

Serbian RL restarted on 6 June and was again stopped on 9 July because of a rise in Covid-19 rates. They are hoping to get back later this month, SRLF commissioner for rugby league competition, Dragan Pavlovic, commenting: “The situation with the virus has worsened and an emergency situation has been introduced in many cities, which includes bans on public gatherings of more than 10 people.

All activity in the Middle East, Africa, Americas and Jamaica is currently paused under lockdown.
 

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Teenager Eliot Peposhi, whose father Arbian played for Albania against the GB Student Pioneers in Tirana last year, has signed professional forms for St Helens - becoming the first from his nation to earn such a contract.

The 16-year-old, who has penned a two year deal with the option for a third, said: “I'm very honoured and extremely grateful to St Helens for offering me the contract. They are a big club with so many honours and such a massive history. It is simply brilliant that I am now part of it. Now I need to push and work even harder as my ambitions are to play the game at the highest possible level and perhaps one day I can represent my heritage and be part of history with the Albania Rugby League team.“

His father Arbian added: “This takes him a step closer to achieving his dream to be a professional rugby player. To me, it means a lot for my son to get a professional contract because I know how hard he has worked for the last four years. But the most pleasing thing is that he is doing something that he really loves - hopefully, his younger brother will follow suit.
 

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A third straight victory over neighbours Germany, thanks to a stirring second half performance in the Zwolle rain, saw the Netherlands win the 2020 Griffin Cup, 20-18; in the only rugby league Test Match set to be played in the northern hemisphere this year.

The Dutch now lead the series 4-3, and the victory was their fifth consecutive international win.
 

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At its recent board meeting, International Rugby League (IRL) reviewed an application for Affiliate Membership received from the Nigerian Rugby League Association.

The application, which has the support of the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) was approved and will now be presented to the full IRL membership with a recommendation to elevate NRLA.
 

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Debutants Triton Warszawa are the first-ever Polish Rugby League champions, after defeating the country’s oldest and founding club Magpie Łódź, 20-18 in a dramatic Grand Final.

The match, played behind closed doors in mining town Bełchatów in central Poland because of Covid-19 restrictions, was the culmination of the first domestic season in the country involving four clubs; Wataha Piotrkow and Skierniewice Razorbacks the others.

TRITON WARSZAWA 20

Tries: Mariusz Ilczuk, Wojtek Lukasiewicz, 2, Bartek Lesiuk

Goals: Karol Romanski 2

MAGPIE ŁÓDŹ 18

Tries: Mateusz Klosinski, Lukasz Siewiera, Mateusz Kowalewski

Goals: Mateusz Kowalewski 3
 

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A third straight victory over neighbours Germany, thanks to a stirring second half performance in the Zwolle rain, saw the Netherlands win the 2020 Griffin Cup, 20-18; in the only rugby league Test Match set to be played in the northern hemisphere this year.

The Dutch now lead the series 4-3, and the victory was their fifth consecutive international win.

Rather than the outcome, however, this was a triumph for perseverance and dedication to get the game on, after further government restrictions for the Utrecht region saw it moved from Amersfoort to its third venue at very short notice.

The match was also played in dedication to the memory and development work of Germany RL founder Simon Cooper.
 

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The first game has been played in the 2020 Balkan Super League, with Serbian side Radniki Nis travelling to face Lokomotiva Sofia behind closed doors in Trebich, Bulgaria.

The visitors dominated from start to finish, running out 86-6 winners after leading 50-0 at half time, against a side who had not even been able to train together since March because of Covid-19 regulations.
 

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The Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) board has recommended Ghana to be upgraded from Observer to Affiliate member status to the International Rugby League (IRL) board and its members. If accepted, as expected, Ghana would become only the third African nation - following Nigeria recently and South Africa - to be bestowed such status.

RLEF board member Mahdi Choudhury commented: “We are extremely pleased to recommend Ghana’s affiliate membership application, they have shown significant growth since 2018. Rugby League Federation Ghana (RLFG) has increased domestic and international competition, coaching and match official development programs, and vital community initiatives. Their acceptance would further strengthen the establishment of a proposed Middle East Africa Confederation.”

RLFG, particularly active in their university sector, has begun a return to on-field activity recently after the easing of some Covid-19 restrictions in the country. Clubs were given two options; to train from October to November and play in a friendly event in December, or train for rest of the year and start in full in 2021. They opted for the former and have set a program for both male and female players to restart.

RLFG has also been setting a lead with health programs in the country. Last weekend the women’s section, in collaboration with Decathlon Ghana, took part in a breast cancer awareness program dubbed ‘Women in Sports’ organized in association with Pink October.
 

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RED STAR BELGRADE are the Serbian Champions for the 4th time in a row after defeating derby rivals Partizan Belgrade 20-12.

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Rugby league is reaching more people in Africa with the start of a formal women’s competition in Ghana, and the first nation people of Cameroon taking up the sport.