RLEF pays tribute to German Rugby League founder

The Rugby League European Federation has been much saddened to hear of the passing of the German Rugby League founder, player, coach and former president, Simon Cooper, after a long, brave and determined battle with the aggressive blood cancer, Myeloma.

Cooper, whose father was born in Hamburg, moved to Munich in 2003 and oversaw the founding of the Nationaler Rugby League Deutschland, the rise of the international side (for whom he gained 13 caps), and the setting up of the domestic BundesLeague. The Cooper Cup was established in recognition of his contribution. His persuasive powers saw current Brisbane Broncos head coach, Anthony Siebold, and the Keinhorst brothers play for the national side. Last month, the Board of Nationaler Rugby League Deutschland Inaugurated a Hall of Fame with Cooper the first to be included.

“There was no doubt who the first inductee should be,” said NRLD president Bob Doughton, “Simon Cooper; the man who started rugby league in Germany.”

“Life is sometimes like a match,” remarked Cooper poignantly, in his final interview. “It’s a challenge. My advice to anyone trying to get our sport going in unfamiliar territory is, `Don’t give up’. Just try and get a game on, enjoy it, build brick-by-brick and see where it goes.”

RLEF board member, Graeme Thompson paid tribute to Cooper’s contribution to the sport.

“On behalf of the RLEF, I express our sorrow at hearing of Simon’s passing,” said Thompson. “I extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends and to the NRLD. Simon was the founding figure of German Rugby League, and it was good to hear him tell of that journey again when he did a recent podcast with me.

“His legacy will live on through the continued work of his successors in Germany.”