Frustration in Europe Builds

By Daniel Andruczyk

Now I am not one to be  negative about Rugby League, but sometimes its a sport that can frustrate the hell out of you. This week I have been hammered with emails expressing the frustrations of nations that nothing has been announced in Europe. It seems that with Kevin Rudd’s leaving the RLEF seems to be a ship without a rudder. No news on his replacement, no news on this years tournaments and no news on the Italian and Serbian investigation.

Show me the Tourney!

I know that the European Cup and 4 Nations have been announced and many have expressed their surprise that the Euro cup has gone to 4 nations. I have covered this in other blogs and my articles in Rugby League Review the reasons for this. However nations have heard nothing about the European Shield, Bowl, Med or Plate tournaments.

I have it on good authority that the Shield this year will be Serbia, Germany and The Czech Republic once again while the European Bowl will feature Norway, Belgium and Malta. No other tournaments have been announced and no one has heard anything. But it seems that no one has been told anything officially and they need to try and find out things through other means.

GerSrb13 Germany and Serbia head out for their Euro Shield clash in 2007, Heidelberg

It seems that Italy for some reason have been excluded, two stories I am hearing is that they missed out on the date of submission to play, the other is that they have been excluded for some reason. What is the real truth I don’t know. But you would think that after last years European Cup appearance Italy would be somewhere at least in the Euro Shield.

But Italy’s exclusion has a much more serious effect. It jeopardises their tour to the USA and the USA’s tour to Italy this year. Italy had a sponsorship with Alitalia that help fund the Italian domestic comp and also they get discounted tickets for the USA tour and the USA vice versa I am told. It was subject to the Italians being at least in the Euro Shield. This now looks like it wont happen and so effectively kills off the Alitalia sponsorship.

Other nations having heard nothing are now looking at setting up their own tournaments. The issue is that nations don’t have a big window to set up games, basically ground availability from Union or soccer, travel arrangements and players having to organise time off work need time to sort this out. With April almost upon us, its getting to that critical time where any one of these points will become untenable and so stop a nations from playing in a tournament. Denmark are looking to play Latvia, Russia I hear (despite their issues) are wanting to revive the Victory Cup tournaments and have already sent a tentative invited the Estonians… maybe an invite to the Italians and USA would be an idea? What is happening with Catalonia no one really knows, though their University Championships kick off soon.


There has been rumour now that there might be a break away organisation, teams are unhappy and getting frustrated with the lack of information coming out. Personally I think this can be a very, very dangerous path to go down. Look in essence the RLEF is a young organisation, Kevin leaving has really been its first challenge and it is trying to figure out what to do. There is no doubt that they do need to be more transparent, Rugby League in general around the world tends to be a fairly secretive sport, no one wants to say anything or give out too much… but in doing so its shooting itself in the foot. Ideally tournaments need to be set out 2 years in advance.

But what would a break away actually achieve? Maybe nations being able to sort out matches and tourneys between each other, but what else, and for me I don’t think they would achieve much more. You still need to have a structure and people running the organisation and without the backing of the RFL or FFR XIII I can’t see any new organisation being any better.


The way I see it is this. Maybe nations are better off sorting out games and tournaments with each other, but they still need to have affiliation with the RLEF. Ultimately its what provides the money and structure. These tournaments invariably will end up being not based on ranking or ability but more on the proximity of nations, so having a structure wont make sense and so the Euro Shield, Bowl and Med names will need to be replaced. But ultimately there needs to be some way that teams are selected to go into the European Cup. That is where the current structure is so handy, it was based roughly on the ability and standings of nations.


One of the Serbian players signing autographs after the 2007 Germany – Serbia Euro Shield match.

Ultimately the way I see things though is that Nations just need to be patient. The RLEF is now going through its first growing pains. It needs to figure out how to sort itself out now and yes its taking a long time, but isn’t it better that they take a bit longer than do something quick, rash and make a massive mistake?

Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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