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Friday, 28 April 2017

Balkan Cup Plans Confirmed

RLEF Central & Eastern Europe regional director, Jovan Vujosevic, recently announced plans for the Balkan Cup in October 2017. 

He described progress made by the Turkish RL Association, how they will host the GB Student Pioneers and continued:

"the national team will play in the Belgrade Euro 9s in June and the Balkan Cup in October 2017 alongside Serbia, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria who are so far confirmed.”

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Balkan Super League Launched

Serbia have confirmed themselves as a driving force behind European RL development by launching the Balkan Super League (BSL)
This ambitious competition includes four clubs from Serbia and a team each from Bosnia Herzegovina, Turkey, and Bulgaria. It has the potential to become an elite club competition and is the result of hard work being done to develop the game domestically in a number of European countries.
It is expected that Greece will enter at least one club in the BSL after the RLEF recently granted them Observer status.
The travel distances and costs across southern/eastern Europe make the BSL an attractive proposition for clubs and it provides players with an opportunity to develop skills and play at a higher level.
Serbian RL President and BSL Director, Blagoje Stoiljković believes bigger things are on the horizon.
“We are confident that this is just a first step in the prosperous future of the sport in region.
Serbia as a rugby league leader in this part of the Europe is determined to help elevate the quality of the game in the emerging countries in every possible way.
This is obviously a test year, but we can already feel a positive energy from all the country participants.”
Serbia currently run an eight team domestic competition and were close to RLWC 2017 qualification using all domestic players but were beaten by an Italian team filled with heritage players.
In a sign that Serbian standards are improving, rising star Vladimir Milutinovic of Partizan Belgrade has been invited for a trial by French club Toulouse Olympique who are currently second in the Kingstone Press Championship table.
Clubs competing in th 2017 Balkan Super League are:
Novi Beograd, Partizan, Dorcol and Red Star (All Serbia)
Vitez (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Lokomotiv Sofia (Bulgaria)
Kadikoy Bulls (Turkey)
Another participating club is likely to be announced in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

RLIF Approve Emerging Nations World Cup for 2018

Ambitious enthusiasts from all corners of the globe will converge on Sydney in November 2018 for the Rugby League Emerging Nations World Championship (ENWC) following a decision at today’s RLIF Board to award a grant of $100,000 to the event.
 A celebration of the sport’s global expansion and diverse communities, the ENWC will feature Tier Two and Tier Three nations from around the world where the sport is developing.
The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) event will be a two-week gathering of communities from a geographical spread never seen before in rugby league.
 “The 2018 Emerging Nations World Championship will feature more global teams than any previous rugby league competition,” RLIF Chairman Nigel Wood said.
 “It will put the spotlight on the fact that rugby league is played in more than 60 countries and give recognition to the many volunteer players and officials around the globe who do great things for this sport. One of the Board’ objectives in awarding the grant was to measure the event’s success by creating a legacy of participants returning to their nation to spread the interest and growth in Rugby League.
 “People may not realise Canada has been competing internationally for 30 years, or that domestic leagues are now established in a wide range of countries for example in Hungary, Chile and Hong Kong.”
 Western Sydney is set to be the hub of activity, with confirmed competition venues including Windsor, St Mary’s and Cabramatta. Alongside the ENWC the RLIF Board also endorsed the concept of a number of regional teams playing in a separate competition.
 “The reason many of us love rugby league is because it’s open to everybody,” Mr Wood said.
 “It is a sport that rewards flair and developing nations enjoy the fact it is uncomplicated by technicalities or expensive equipment.
 “The game’s popularity is reflective of its ability to serve as a vehicle for positive life changes, and that will be demonstrated by the stories of players from many backgrounds participating in the Emerging Nations World Championship.
 “I’m sure there will be rags to riches tales and, undoubtedly many players who dream of a professional contract but, regardless, this event will be something special within itself.”
Confirmed nations competing in the event are: Canada, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Niue, Philippines, Thailand and Vanuatu.
 The RLIF is expecting to confirm several additions to this already diverse list in coming months, with the tournament draw to be released in 2018.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Rugby League Makes Progress in Turkey

A magnificent display from man of the match, Kadıköy full-back Alican Acar – who crossed for five of their 13 tries – saw the Bulls triumph 66-14 in the first-ever Turkish Rugby League Grand Final.
Centre Aykut Kanaclar also claimed a hat trick, as the unbeaten Bulls took the trophy at the Maltepe Stadium in Istanbul.
Eren Kemal Sen grabbed a brace of touchdowns, Onur Ersoy, Doruk Celiktutan and Taylan Kokuroglu also crossing, whilst Behzad Jalili kicked seven goals.
Kadıköy captain Doruk Celiktutan commented: “It was much higher quality than I expected even though it’s the first time we have held such a competition in Turkey. It shows the huge potential here. All our teams have improved with each game played.”
Their coach Julien Treu, the instigator of the competition, added: “I would like to congratulate all the teams who took part of this first rugby league championship, the fixtures were fulfilled and we had some very exciting matches. Thanks also needs to go to everybody involved in this set-up who worked very hard behind the scenes, and the successful final was the result of their work.
“We believe rugby league has big potential in Turkey we will do our best to keep it up. We have come a long way and do not intend to stop now.”
Eskisehir Aqua never gave up and posted tries by Abdullah Kaptan, centre Selçuk Cömert – who also kicked a goal – and Selim Özdemir.
Aqua skipper, full-back Emin Erden noted: “This season was a great experience for all the Turkish teams. I believe that next year will be an even more competitive one with more sides participating. Kadıköy played with the quality of a European team.”
Jovan Vujosevic, RLEF Central & Eastern Europe regional director noted: “The Turkish Rugby League Association has now met all the criteria for acceptance of observer membership and that is huge progress in less than a year. They will host the GB Student Pioneers and the national team will play in the Belgrade Euro 9s in June and the Balkan Cup in October 2017 alongside Serbia, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria who are so far confirmed.”

Monday, 24 April 2017


Two new sides and the return of three other teams will see a strengthening of the domestic competition in Ireland in 2017, which kicks off next month.
In Northern Ireland Belfast Eagles, who have been solely running junior rugby league have now extended to include an open age side within their setup. They will join the existing three Ulster teams to make a four-team championship, whilst in the south Galway Bay Pirates will make their debut.
The Pirates will play friendlies in their inaugural season and will be dual registered with neighbours and current champions Galway Tribesmen to assist in their development.
Meanwhile, in the North, a trio of familiar names return.
“There is a feeling of nostalgia and progress for the upcoming season,” says Ulster provincial official Steve Hogan. “Limerick’s finest, Treaty City Titans, return after a troubled 2016 season which culminated in the team standing down mid-season. They come back hoping to return to former glories and are joined by Ballyfermont Bears from West Dublin and Waterford Vikings.”
The Bears were last seen in 2015 whilst Waterford return after a hiatus of several years and are effectively new setup led by current international winger Alan McMahon. He was part of the All Ireland winning Galway Tribesmen last year and his two solo efforts went a long way to securing the team their maiden title.
Hogan continues: “The Eagles adult setup will play out of the colourfully named Orangefields. Added to the eight-team competition in the Republic of Ireland, there has been an upsurge of 150 percent in competitive team numbers and, along with the Pirates, there may be further developments in the very near future in terms of additional non-competitive teams.”
The governing body is putting additional emphasis on the completion of more championship matches. Last year, the combined competitions saw 67% of all regular season fixtures completed compared to only 56% in 2015. The collapse of Treaty City was the main reason for the bulk of walkover fixtures in 2016 and there is great belief that the 2017 season will be robust.
Underpinning it, the U19s of both Northern Ireland Elks and the Republic of Ireland Eagles have been active since January, as have the U16 Irish Wolfhounds. The first fixture took place recently at Ashbourne RFC between the ROI Eagles U19s and the West of England Lionhearts, with the visitors taking the game 36-32 in an enthralling encounter.
Expansion comes on the back of the national team qualifying for the 2017 World Cup, their squad containing a number of domestically-based players.
Since obtaining full Sport Ireland recognition two years ago, RLI has committed unequivocally to growing the sport’s appeal throughout its local stakeholders, a prime example of that strategy being the rule introduced locally stipulating that all national teams must have a sizeable domestic quota of players irrespective.
Hogan adds: “Belief in Ireland is that the game is on the up and with the Wolfhounds at the World Cup, there is genuine excitement from all involved.”

Friday, 21 April 2017


Italian rugby league club Saluzzo Roosters have completed their debut season in French competition, celebrating by winning their final match of the campaign.
The town, situated in the north west 40km from the French border, played in the French Federation’s Provence Alpes-Côte d’Azur championship and completed their season with a 26-16 victory in the final match against St Martin XIII, triggering euphoric scenes in the Centro Sportivo di Manta.
Elio Giacoma, coach of the Roosters, was ecstatic after leading his side on an unprecedented journey, labelling it, “a wonderful adventure.”
“I am so proud of my boys,” he said. “We ended the season with an unexpected victory. We took so many risks with this decision and were aware of all the difficulties to start a new life in rugby league. We invested lot of time to start this new adventure but we had great return, not just with the final weekend victory, but the whole region answered our call and supported us.”
FIRL and the club began negotiations with FFRXIII in August 2016 and the Roosters lost their first match 50-10 against Caumont last November but noticeably improved despite some heavy defeats.
“We started this project with humility knowing the hard work we had to do,” continued Giacoma, “Our goal was to create a stable club in the rugby league world and to grow. Having new players on board such Gioele Celerino and Mirco Bergamasco [both Italian internationals] can only help our development. We saw lot of interest in us, not just from the media, but from sponsors, the public administration, fans – it shows us we are going are on the right path. We want to thank both federations, France and the Federazione Italiana Rugby League, for this big opportunity and for all support they gave us during this season.”
FIRL vice president Tiziano Franchini, who played in France with Chatillon and then Corbeille, offered his congratulations for Saluzzo’s first season in new waters. The side originally played in the Italian domestic competition as the North West Roosters, joining in 2013.
“It is a great moment for the Italian rugby League movement,” he said. “We are very proud of what the Roosters have achieved and thank all those involved in this project, especially to Elio Giacoma who is the soul of the club. Our aim as a federation is to have at least 20 people like him involved to continue to expand rugby league in Italy.”

Thursday, 20 April 2017


Rotterdam Pitbulls begin the defence of their NRLB title this weekend when they face newcomers Harderwijk Dolphins. In the other match to open proceedings, Amsterdam Cobras play host to Den Haag Knights.
This season the teams will meet each other home and away for the Minor Premiership with the top two then contesting the Championship title and the others battling for third place in a double-header Grand Final, in Rotterdam on 10 June.
NRLB development officer Jason Bruygoms, who is also player/coach of the of the Pitbulls said at the season launch: 
“After an undefeated 2016 season, our main focus is to retain our title and, with more challenges than last year, we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Lou Benders of the Amsterdam Cobras commented: 
“Having trained all year round and played winter games which were lots of fun, the guys have grown and improved as a team. We also have some fresh new talent and now a steady base of league-only players to hopefully compete for a place in the top two.”
“We are really eager to get started,” noted Adam Bakker of Harderwijk Dolphins. 
"We might not have the experience or size compared to the other teams but we want to show our competitiveness, passion, great team spirit and fit and fast players. Our ambition is to end up at least third in the competition and make sure that every opponent has to give it their best to beat us.”
Den Haag Knights are looking to set up a members scheme with the aim of making them the best supported club in the country. Stalwart Ian Thompson commented: 
“With two Grand Final defeats behind us in three years, the club is aiming to go one better in 2017.”
Thijs van der Zouwen, chairman of the Nederlandse Rugby League Bond added: 
“The NRLB is very excited about the upcoming season. We’ll have more games than ever before. It promises to be close with Amsterdam and Harderwijk making progress in the off-season and ready to take on traditional strongholds Rotterdam and The Hague.”

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Malta victorious over the Philippines

The Malta Knights emerged victorious over the Philippines Tamaraws in their recent international encounter at the New Era Stadium in Cabramatta.
Down 16 – 10 at half time, Malta were lucky not to have more points put on them with the amount of ball turned over.

Whilst calling the shots in the number 9 jersey for the Philippines, Hooker Luke Srama showed his experience in a physical opening encounter.

Two different teams emerged after the interval, as Malta Captain Jake Attard steadied the ship with his direction out of dummy-half. Rookie 19 year old Joel Bradford, who was called into the squad at the last minute, stood tall at fullback, offering great support play and safety under the high ball.

Fellow debutant, Luke Cauchi exploded onto the International scene bagging four tries in a memorable performance. Newcastle Knights back rower Ben Stone was used off the interchange bench and changed the game with his talk and defence, whilst two-time Malta Knight Nathan Falzon looked dangerous every time he touched the ball.

Knights were the dominant team in the final quarter of the match, running out 44 – 26 winners.