Five English clubs – including one professional team – are among the 50-plus clubs who have applied to be part of the new European cup competition beginning next year: as the Rugby League European Federation concede they are powerless to prevent it from launching.
League Express revealed last month how Euro XIII will launch in 2021 with a 16-team cup competition, before evolving into a 32-team cup and an eight-team league if all goes to plan. The RLEF initially claimed they hadn’t sanctioned the project, but League Express has now seen an email sent to RLEF members which admits that the federation has no powers to stop Euro XIII from proceeding.
“The RLEF recognises that under its articles, they have no powers to stop the Euro XIII from proceeding if that was a desired option,” it said. “The RLEF will make further efforts for a short period to work with Euro XIII to establish the required information before establishing its final position,” the email continued.
Birmingham Jaguars became the latest club to be announced for the inaugural cup competition in 2021, and League Express spoke with one of the founders of Euro XIIIs, Dean Buchan, who said that any notion of a ‘war’ between Euro XIII and the RLEF is wide of the mark.
“Some people would love to turn this into a war, but it isn’t going to be that. Most of these clubs have support from their respective international board, saying they are pro-Euro XIII.”
Buchan also confirmed the rumour that one team currently in the professional ranks in England had applied to take part in Euro XIII alongside their current league commitments: but they were not considered due to the nature of the competition.
“A professional club would run away with this competition next year,” he said. “This is not the Champions League of Rugby League, this is a development competition. There is a gulf between English sides and the rest of Europe. Every team in Europe would struggle to get past the first round of the Challenge Cup. But it’s not about that for the moment. The fundamental thing is that we can all develop together to close that gap.
“They’re not leaving their domestic leagues, they’re getting greater exposure on a European level and several clubs have already been offered new sponsorship that they wouldn’t have otherwise got. This is why it’s not political.”
Dublin Blues, Rhondda Outlaws, Rotterdam Pitbulls, North Brussels Gorillas, Skane Stags, Budapest, Valencia Huracanes, Anadolu XIII and Vrchlabí Mad Squirrels are the other confirmed clubs so far.