A record total of over 40 delegates, representing 23 national federations, will be part of the RLEF Congress to be held this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey, who host the annual get-together for the first time.
RLEF general manager Chris Thair is looking forward to the gathering and venue.
“There is a vibrancy in international rugby league at present highlighted this weekend,” he said. “Turkey recently became an RLEF affiliate member have shown tremendous growth in recent years, it is fitting they share the spotlight.
“The representation will include the largest-ever gathering from the Middle East and Africa region ahead of this year’s MEA Championships in October in Nigeria,” he added. “Our role is to ensure growth of the sport, the development of the federations and deliver some of the best international competitions. This kind of face-to-face networking ensures international rugby league runs increasingly smoothly, more games are arranged and the increasing number of members assist one another.
“Rugby League is growing, we should be positive about this trend, especially knowing the people involved, and I’m confident about the future. We have some exciting announcements to make at Congress.”
The two-day meeting will also see the first-ever international played by the Turkish women’s team, when they face Italy on Saturday evening at the Baylerbeyi Stadium, Istanbul (kick off 6pm).
“This is a very exciting time for Turkish Rugby League,” said TRL president Gurol Yildiz, “It will be an historic weekend and we are extremely pleased and honoured that the Italian women will share this wonderful moment. We have put in great deal of time and effort to come to this stage especially our founder, development officer and women’s coach Julien Treu and board member Fatih Çetinkaya. The development of women’s rugby League is a very important part of the TRLA.”
FIRL director Tiziano Franchini noted: “The Italian women’s team is very excited to re-start their international activity for the 2019 season. All the players are very keen to put in a very positive performance and keep working to improve. After two games against France in 2018, we are happy to be back and look forward to setting up a continuous productive working relationship between TRLA and FIRL.”
TURKISH WOMEN’S SQUAD : Melike Sahan, Huyla Tasci, Gulusan Cakmak, Mehtap Korku, Nazlican Erdogan, Esen Gül (Izmir Bati Gucu RLC), Elif Yilmaz, Zeynep Aydın, Nazife Taşkın, Ecem Acikgoz(Ankara Phrygians RLC), Bengu Ozgen, Safak Ozturk, Ece Tekin, Merve Fırtına, Ezgi Kilic, Elif Kutlu (Kadikoy Bulls RLC), Jiyan Avas, Derya Sanliturk, Berivan Dilmac (Eskisehir Aqua Warriors RLC)
ITALY WOMENS SQUAD : Colangeli Giulia, Lisa Sovran, Matilde Buzzon, Altea Forto, Anna Barro, Neri Erica, Pinarello Virginia (cap), Piva Cecilia, Menotti Alessandra, Siria Raisa, Stefania Toldo (Comitato Nord Est), Valentina Virgili, Bettolatti Rosa, Gazzera Simona, Carlotta Guerreschi (Comitato Nord Ovest) Giulia Iozzia, Pandolfo Enrica (Comitato Sud)
After the game everyone will share a cruise on the Bosphorus River hosted by the Turkish Rugby League Association, Ragbi Lig Dernegi.