The RLEF Board of Directors has confirmed it is considering re-launching regular European youth championships from next year, with U18 the recommended level.
At a recent meeting held at their London headquarters, the Board discussed that proposal, along with Europe’s World Cup qualifying formats for the 2021 tournament in England andf new membership applications from European and African nations, all as part of an overall strategy review due to be launched next year, as well as re-affirming the organisation’s appetite to overhaul its social media presence and institute a new communication plan.
“There are eight European Full Members now,” said RLEF General Manager Danny Kazandjian, “compared to three – only England, France and Russia – in 2009 when the last youth competition took place, in Serbia. The breadth of youth rugby league in Europe is now significantly greater. In addition, there are Affiliate Members with domestic youth competitions, such as the Czech Republic and Italy, and others with fledgling youth development programmes, Norway and the Netherlands among them.
“We believe the time is right to re-introduce regular youth competition in the calendar, giving nations the chance to plan their development pathways in the medium and long-term as well as giving the continent’s best young players the chance to represent their country.”
The RLEF administered youth competitions from 2006-9 but they were not part of the 2010 strategy as the prevailing view was there was not enough systematic youth development in Europe to sustain a credible competition.
Since then, the amount has gradually increased. In 2010 seven nations ran youth competitions, in 2015 the number had risen to 11. Statistics for the 2016 season are currently being compiled as part of the annual membership audit.
The RLEF executive will now consult with the members before making final recommendations to the RLEF Board.