A total of 16 nations – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, France, Greece, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, Russia, Turkey, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Ukraine and Wales – attended the RLEF congress in Bray, near Dublin, Ireland last weekend.
Both Turkey and Bulgaria, joining for the first time, are each in the latter stages of forming their national association, whilst the Poles submitted their application for Polska Rugby XIII to receive formal recognition.
The Council endorsed the Board’s recommendation to re-appoint Paul Nicholson as an independent director for a further two years. Nicholson, CEO of Inside World Football, is taking the lead on the RLEF’s broadcast partnerships, as the sport prepares to move into a new eight-year cycle following next year’s World Cup.
“The next two years are very important for international rugby league in Europe as more nations become increasingly competitive,” said Nicholson. “As the RLEF has expanded so we need to work on increasing and improving our media footprint.
“With the international calendar becoming clearer, we have an identifiable set of rights that can be taken to the broadcast and sponsorship markets through to 2022. They are a compelling proposition and allow broadcasters to programme a multi-year schedule of international rugby league in Europe,” he added.
RLEF Chairman, Maurice Watkins, CBE noted: “The members are the beating heart of the RLEF and through their endeavours both our European dimension and the sport’s capacity will grow.”
Watkins also welcomed independent director Sally Bolton, and newly elected French rugby league president Marc Palanques to their first annual congress, with Palanques elected as vice chairman by the Board.
Serbia RL’s Nebojsa Sretenovic stood down from the Board after a six-year spell. His compatriot, Blagoje Stoijlkovic, an engineer from Belgrade, and Scotland Rugby League nominee Graeme Thompson, who first served in 2010, were both elected unopposed on a two-year mandate.
Des Foy of Rugby League Ireland praised the role that EuroTag – a non-contact version of the game – has played in a number of countries, whilst Jovan Vujosevic of the Serbian Rugby League Federation indicated there was growing support within the membership, to increase the number of domestic players in any match involving national teams, played within RLEF jurisdiction.
In a full weekend of activity that included watching Ireland qualify for the 2017 RLWC by beating Russia, the members took part in an interactive workshop run by RLEF match officials manager, Tom Mather, discussing the new technical training programme, and also received a presentation from RLI’s Richard Egan on the host federation’s strategy.
“I would like to thank Dr Mick Molloy and the whole of Rugby League Ireland for staging a successful and interesting weekend,” said Watkins.