EurFed RLEF - League Overseas - General

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The first game of rugby post Covid-19 restrictions was played in Norway this weekend as Oslo Capitals travelled to Vigernesjordet to face Lillestrøm Lions.

In a pre-season friendly played in 31 degree heat, both sides were understandably rusty having not played a match since the 2019 season. Oslo fullback and player of the match Salvis Stilbs was excellent for the Capitals who won 56-4, whilst experienced trio Isaac Schmidt, Kristoffer Milligan and Matt South kept the Lions on the back foot.
 

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Serbia head coach Stuart Wilkinson ran two coaching clinics with Montenegro’s fledgling international side before the Balkan nations met in a representative fixture. In a highly competitive clash, the young Serbians emerged victors at the FK Arsenal Stadium in Tivat.
 

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The Association of Rugby League of El Salvador has submitted an application for observer status to the European Rugby League, for onward recommendation to the International Rugby League board.

Hugo Edgarddo Gomez Linares, president of ARLES, said from Santa Ana: “We feel very enthusiastic after the great effort required to form the Association and to have it recognised by the highest authority of Salvadoran Sport, The El Salvador Institute of Sport (INDES).
 

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With the message from the World Cup organisers that plans will go ahead as scheduled for the staging of the tournament, Lebanon head coach Michael Cheika has welcomed the news. The Cedars, who made it out of the group stages in 2017, pulled off a huge statement of intent with the announcement of the former Wallabies boss as their man in charge.

Born in Australia to Lebanese parents, he is desperate to make a difference. “When I thought about it, as an immigrant kid from Lebanon with a lot of family back there and you see how much everyone is struggling, I always wondered, ‘how can I give back’” he said. “There’s charity and I’ve done stuff with UNICEF but this is something that I can do in my area of expertise, something I love where I know I can make a difference.

The Rugby League World Cup is taking place between the 23 October – 27 November this autumn and is the pinnacle of international Rugby League, globally contested every four years. RLWC2021 will be a breakthrough moment in the tournament’s history with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions being staged together for the first time.

The three tournaments will take place in 21 venues across 18 host towns and cities in England. Both the women’s and wheelchair competitions will be contested by two groups of four teams, whilst the men’s tournament will see 16 teams compete across four groups.

RLWC2021 will be the most visible Rugby League event in history with all 61 games in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions being broadcast live on the BBC.

Mission: Delivering the biggest and best ever Rugby League World Cup.

Vision: Creating inspirational moments that excite, engage and leave a long-lasting positive social impact
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European Rugby League’s fourth tier competition, Euro D, has been confirmed to take place in October 2021 and will be hosted in Bodrum, Turkey.

The championship, postponed in 2020 because of the pandemic, will see Netherlands, Malta, Czechia and the host nation compete, having agreed to a new format of a centrally hosted event to reduce exposure to the challenges of Coronavirus restrictions.
 

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The three club domestic competition has returned to Malta as a precursor to national team selection for Euro D, which will see the Knights play in Bodrum, Turkey in October.

Ikħal (Blue Knights) defeated Iswed (Black Knights) 24-22 at the Marsa Sports Complex, Malta XIII skipper Mark Camilleri with two tries as his side came back from 18-4 down in 35 degree heat.

Ahmar Red Knights are the third team in the competition.
 

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Following the post-pandemic return to play in a number of African countries, increased activities have been announced.

This weekend, the second women’s Lauréane Biville tournament – named after the inspirational young French international player who had a spell playing in the country - will take place at the Stade du Grand Seminaire de Nkolbisson in Yaoundé, CAMEROON.

It will feature eight sides, holders Raiders, Panda, Bastos Majestics, Gorilla, Rock, Guepard, Sahel and Air Garoua, double the number of the inaugural tournament held in 2019. The teams will be divided into two pools, the top two of each qualifying for the semi finals. The winners will take home a specially commissioned trophy in ebony and bronze, the top three sides will receive medals and all players given a certificate of participation.

Cameroon RL head coach, Khalil Njoya, said: “The Biville tournament is the first and only one of its type in the continent of Africa and further evidence of the continued growth of the women’s game on the continent.”
 

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Lebanon Rugby League national championship kicks off on Thursday, 29 July 2021, with the participation of four Clubs. The format will consist of one Round-Robin where, at the end of the premiership, the second- and third- seeded teams will play a Semi-Final, and the winner will face the first-seeded in the Grand Final.

The four participating clubs are: El Mina RLFC, Grey Wolves RLFC, Tripoli RLFC and Wolves RLFC. In addition, two nines tournaments are slated to follow at the end of the championship.
 

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Following the post-pandemic return to play in a number of African countries, increased activities have been announced.

This weekend, the second women’s Lauréane Biville tournament – named after the inspirational young French international player who had a spell playing in the country - will take place at the Stade du Grand Seminaire de Nkolbisson in Yaoundé, CAMEROON.

It will feature eight sides, holders Raiders, Panda, Bastos Majestics, Gorilla, Rock, Guepard, Sahel and Air Garoua, double the number of the inaugural tournament held in 2019. The teams will be divided into two pools, the top two of each qualifying for the semi finals. The winners will take home a specially commissioned trophy in ebony and bronze, the top three sides will receive medals and all players given a certificate of participation.

Cameroon RL head coach, Khalil Njoya, said: “The Biville tournament is the first and only one of its type in the continent of Africa and further evidence of the continued growth of the women’s game on the continent.”

The first trials have been held in Berrachid Province, MOROCCO for the newly formed women’s national team. It is planned that the side will play two internationals in the lead up to the 2022 MEA Women’s Championship and the MRLA has signed an agreement kit manufacturers Zingra.

President of Moroccan Rugby League, Yamna Abdel Salam, who is also chair of the Middle East & Africa Women's Rugby League Advisory Committee, commented: “Here women are a key partner in achieving development goals and community involvement. Nothing transforms or progresses without an active role for women in all sport, political, economic, cultural and social fields.”

Meanwhile, following the completion of their men’s championship, GHANA is preparing for a three-match Origin series which will start on 5 September. The games are primarily seen as trials for the national side who will wear new, specially commissioned shirts.
 

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After a long period of lockdowns and restrictions caused by the pandemic, rugby league returned to Poland at the weekend with a match between Lodz Magpies (Sroki Łódź) and Czechia side Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels, as part of the Magpies 10 year anniversary celebrations.

The visitors ran out 56-4 winners but the score was secondary to the recommencement and the landmark according to Krzysztof Tonn, vice president of the Magpies. “The game was a big success,” he said. “Despite the result the local players were happy and encouraged to play more games against strong opposition.
 

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The rugby league season kicks off in Turkey this weekend with the tradition opener, an international beach tournament at Kalmis Kadikoy, first played in 2016.

Following that, eight open age men teams, four youth and four women’s sides will contest the domestic championship which begins with the Turkish Cup, leading into the hosting of Euro D in October in Bodrum.

Gurol Yildiz, president of the Turkish Rugby League Association said: “It is with great excitement we are starting our 2021 season fixtures. It's been 18 months of no on-field activities but we continued to be proactive with online rugby league and match official education courses, which was a huge success.
 

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The Nigeria Rugby League Association has become the first nation to benefit from the European Rugby League’s link up with Canterbury of New Zealand with the launch of their new kit.

It has been created by celebrity fashion designer, stylist and social activist Chief Ugo Mozie and his sister, contemporary African artist and energy healer, Adaobi Mozie, and is seen as uniting sport with popular culture.

Ugo Mozie said: “The opportunity to design the NRLA jersey is an honour and blessing. As a Nigerian-born and an American-raised creative, my dream has always been to be able to use my talent to create things that can show different sides of my country and highlight our incredibly rich history and present. I’m excited for the world to see my team soar to the top of the game in style.
 

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Norway - Rugby League Norge has announced Anne Haigh as its new president following their recent the AGM. She becomes the second female president of a rugby league national federation alongside Yamina Abdesselem from Morocco.

Haigh said on her appointment: “I’m very happy to have been elected president of Rugby League Norge. I have been involved for eight years in various positions in the organization and done a lot of work in the background, so I feel that I am well equipped to take on the role. I have always been somebody who gets things done and with help of the board will continue to play that role.
 

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The three club domestic competition has returned to Malta as a precursor to national team selection for Euro D, which will see the Knights play in Bodrum, Turkey in October.

Ikħal (Blue Knights) defeated Iswed (Black Knights) 24-22 at the Marsa Sports Complex, Malta XIII skipper Mark Camilleri with two tries as his side came back from 18-4 down in 35 degree heat.

Ahmar Red Knights are the third team in the competition.
 

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The board of European Rugby League has expressed its huge sadness after the peaceful passing of their chair, Maurice Watkins CBE, at his home in Cheshire, aged 79 from prostate cancer.

He joined the ERL board as chair in July 2012 replacing Richard Lewis, and has overseen the growth of the federation from 23 to 42 members covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North and Central America and the Caribbean, with more than ever before ranked as full and affiliate.

One of the UK’s best-known sports lawyers and a long-time director of Manchester United, during his ERL tenure the volume of international rugby league being played by confederation members increased exponentially.

Additionally, Maurice served as a director of the Rugby Football League in England for 12 years until 2014, during which time he led a comprehensive review of the sport.

He also served on the boards of Lancashire County Cricket Club, British Swimming and the British Basketball Federation as well as a host of non-sports related charities, leading the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity’s new build appeal and raising £20m. He was awarded the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2011 for his services to charity.

On behalf of the ERL board, Graeme Thompson commented: “Maurice provided great experience in his role, which our organisation massively benefited from. His strong legal career provided great guidance on many matters, governance was another key area he led on.
 

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Details of European Rugby League’s second tier competition, Euro B, have been confirmed, which will see it taking place from 3-9 October 2021, in Belgrade.

It will be the first official ERL competition staged since the World Cup qualifiers almost two years ago because of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

Hosts Serbia, Russia and Ukraine will contest the tournament, each nation playing the other once, with Greece – who were originally included - still waiting for the go-ahead for their domestic competition to restart. The winners will be promoted to Euro A.
 

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Under the watchful eye of newly appointed NRLD performance director Andy Hay, and for the first time in two seasons because of the pandemic, domestic rugby league returned to Germany at the BSC 1899 Club in Offenbach.

The match was between select sides the Rhinos and Silverbacks for the CooperCup - named after the founder of rugby league in Germany, Simon Cooper, who sadly passed away in 2020 - with the Rhinos taking the spoils 20-16; Silverback’s Christophe Ngondi scoring a hat-trick of tries in his very first game.
 

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The European Rugby League (ERL) has sanctioned the launch of the first official European Beach Rugby League Championships that will be held in Turkey in the summer of 2022.

The ERL is partnering with Turkish agency Melonise in the delivery of the inaugural championships. Melonise will also lead on the commercial sales for the project, working in collaboration with the ERL.

As the championship grows the ERL and Melonise plan to expand the annual event to a series of city events that will crown a European Champion in men’s and women’s Beach Rugby League.

Negotiations are currently on-going with Turkish cities and venues for the 2022 championship with more details to be announced soon.

The Turkish Rugby League Association (TRLA) has hosted a number of Beach Rugby club events, most recently in July in Kadikoy, Istanbul. The TRLA is hosting European Championships D in October – Turkey, Malta, Czech Republic and Netherlands – in Bodrum.