Preparations are in hand as the Czech Republic and Norway look to kick off the 2021WC Qualifiers, in Vrchlabi on the 16th of June.
The clash will double as the opening tie in European Championship C–North, a group which also includes Germany. The winners will then play the top team from the south group (Malta, Ukraine or Greece) for the right to appear in the final European WCQ tournament to be held in late 2019.
“To be taking part in World Cup qualifying is a dream come true for all of us involved in Czech Rugby League,” commented Lukas Hergott, president of CZRLA. “We are a grassroots organization, and we have had to grow the sport organically here with players new to all forms of rugby, so the feeling of pride in seeing our name in such games is massive and makes all the hard work worthwhile.
“We hope to use the publicity generated by this campaign to promote our sport in the Czech Republic to a much wider audience of potential players, sponsors and fans. It should also give us a boost in obtaining official recognition from the Czech Sports and Olympic Association.”
Czech national head coach, Ladislav Cintler, added: “The task ahead of us is daunting but the players are determined to show how much our playing standard is improving in the Czech Republic, year on year. For the playyers, the chance to play for their country in a World Cup campaign has focused them into working harder than ever.
“Win, lose or draw I know that every player who pulls on a Czech jersey will have given their all, and made sacrifices to be in that position.”
His opposite number, Norway’s head coach, Dave Hunter echoed that sentiment. “In the last few years RLN has seen a real growth in playing numbers, in particular at U19 level,” he said. “We are hoping that inclusion in the RLWC qualifiers will see growth continue, and the added exposure help us in securing funding for the future.
“Playing the Czech Republic and Germany will be extremely hard for us, but all the players, the coaching staff and management are willing to put in everything, to ensure that everyone can perform to their full potential over these two games. Our domestic competition kicked off in April, and we have just enjoyed an attendance of 40 plus players at our first camp, all there with the intention of impressing the coaching staff before this upcoming big game.
“We have selected a very strong squad – a mix of talented youngsters and experienced players.”