Over 25 clubs from 16 different countries have applied to be part of a brand-new set of European competition which the organisers have promised will help fulfil the ‘huge potential’ of rugby league in the continent.
Euro XIII has been described as a ‘real game-changer’ for European rugby league, and those behind it have insisted the idea is ‘much more than fantasy’ as the game on mainland Europe aims to take a major stride forward next year.
Key figures in Italian and Spanish rugby league – including Dean Buchan, the man behind Valencia Huracanes, who harbour desires to enter League 1 in the future – are behind the launch, which will involve a cup competition in 2021 before a full league being introduced alongside that in 2022.
Buchan said: “Application to Euro XIII is open to any domestic club throughout Europe. We already have more than 25 applications from 16 different nations for the 2021 competition and anyone else who wishes to apply still has a short time left to do so. More than one club can apply from a country but the competition will only allow one participant from each nation for 2021.
“Whilst we have placed domestic player development at the heart of this competition, we are also aware that not all domestic leagues throughout Europe are of the same standard, and so the Euro XIII will operate a draft system. This draft system will comprise of 36 draft picks for 2021 and will work in a similar way to the NFL Draft with weaker teams getting preference and more draft picks. We ́re confident that this exciting addition to Rugby League will level the playing field among clubs.”
The organisers say they ‘believe that Italy, Serbia and Spain continue to offer really exciting possibilities as future power nations of Rugby League’. Tiziano Franchini has been tasked with the governance of Euro XIII and is known by many in the game through his work with both the FIRL and RLEF. He said: “Europe has needed this competition for too long. Through the years there has been a lot of talk about a European domestic competition but now we finally have it.”
Orazio D’Arro, who has served as Italian Rugby League President since 2013, added: “To any fans who worry this won’t happen, my message is this.. this is happening! We have built a great team, we’ve got the finances in place to make this happen and we have a desire from clubs and nations around Europe to participate. Anyone familiar with myself or Tiziano will know that we have a history of delivering and with Dean and Spanish Rugby League we have a really good partner who bring a lot to the team.”