More news from Europe this week with the Ukrainians completing their first full season of Rugby League withe the Ukrainian stalwarts, Legion XIII coming out on top. Also Ben Galea does an interview for Malta Rugby League about this coming season being his last with Hull FC.
The first full Ukrainian Rugby League Championship has been completed with Legion XIII of Kharkov being crowned champions.
They finished the season ahead of Donbass Tigers from Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk’s Atlant and the Krivoy Rog Rhinos.
All eighteen games were completed and the UFRL has declared itself very satisfied with, “the development of the sport and the professionalism of the Championship management.”
Legion, the eastern-most club who pioneered the birth of rugby league in the country, won all of its nine games, second-placed Donbas triumphing in six encounters. The Rhinos won three matches while newcomers Atlant have yet to taste victory.
In another major landmark, the four-team under-14 and five-team under-16 championships were also completed, in the 9-a-side format, with the cities of Krasnoarmeysk and Odessa expanding the geographical footprint.
Donbass Tigers won both competitions but in the younger age group they edged the Rhinos by just a point.
The Ukrainian season also included the third running of the Artur Martyrosyan A.V. Memorial Cup, with Legion defeating Russian visitors Nara in the final. Significantly, this was the first time a local side had won the cup, with Russia’s Vereya and a British BARLA selection the previous holders.
Currently, the UFRL is organising the first Ukrainian Cup, a competition that is being used to extend the sport’s boundaries further and will include Simferopol based in the Crimean peninsula, over 400km from the nearest rugby league outpost of Krivoy Rog,
Galea is currently in Malta, but for no holiday. In spending most of his time with Malta coach Anthony Micallef he is busily ticking off a long list of assignments along the way.
An NRL premiership winning player with the Wests Tigers in 2005, Galea will be a guest coach to the Gozo Rugby League team this week as well as completing a number of media assignments for the Malta Rugby League (MRL).
Primarily for his club however, Galea is here to have his Maltese passport processed, having attained Maltese citizenship many years ago, the procedure would see him taken off the Australian player quota and providing added value to the Hull FC club.
But Galea makes no promise about going around again in 2014. He says “I don’t know what I’ll be feeling like at the end of next year. If I feel I can still make a good contribution to the game then I’ll explore my options”
With pro rugby stars making a habit of visiting Malta recently and following in the footsteps of dual code internationals Jarrod Sammut and All-Black Brad Thorn, Galea’s visit to Malta isn’t his first and won’t be his last.
“I really enjoy my visits to Malta. It’s great to be back. And Gozo, we spent a day up there last time too. I love the relaxed lifestyle people live here and I love how multicultural it is, it reminds me a lot of home”
Galea accepts that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter help him follow the game in Malta and he adds that he’d like to see more schools take up Rugby League on the Maltese Islands.
To date, the game is taught at one school through the MRL Academy by former Gateshead Thunder player Roderick Attard who trained with Galea in England two seasons ago.
“I think the game in Malta is coming along well. I would like to see more schools become involved in developing the game in this country but overall I think the progress it has made in the last four years has been outstanding” said Galea as he looks across the water to the fortified capital city of Valletta.
And after four seasons at the Robins, fans will see the loose forward make the trip across the river to suit up for cross-town rivals Hull FC but he doesn’t expect anything too unpleasant from the supporters that thrive on one of English rugby’s biggest derbies.
“It’s hard to say how I will be treated by the KR fans. I do hope that they will respect the fact that I needed a job and I was lucky enough to be offered one by Hull FC. I gave 100% in every game I played for the Rovers and I know the fans will be forever grateful for that, they are great supporters”
And as uproar by players around the globe takes place, what does Ben think of the proposed outlawing of the shoulder charge? He’s not all that bothered.
“My opinion is mixed. Nobody likes to see players hurt and this seems to be one part of the game where players continue to get injured or knocked out”
“Personally I don’t think it will have any impact on the way I play because it’s never been something I’ve been a fan of or bigger enough to pull off” jokes the 34-year-old.
You must be logged in to post a comment.