Press Releases – Germany and BARLA Tour and Lebanon

Phil Caplan, RLEF media Office

Three important releases from Europe today with the first BARLA Game played against the Serbian Students. The German Bundesliga is set to kick off this weekend with  5 teams across the Heartland in the West. Lebanon also have news with their preparations for the World Cup Qualifiers.


Tomorrow (Friday) sees the launch of the first German championship, or Bundesliga, marking the culmination of feverish efforts in recent months by Rugby League Deutschland.

Heidelberg and Hochspeyer Sharks kick off the five-team domestic competition, with the Grand Final scheduled for August.

Rugby league, which started in Germany in 2006, has to date focused on representative fixtures but a new Board, elected in February, changed the approach with the development of clubs and local players the priority of new president Max Schoengen and his colleagues.

“I’m really proud of the development and we’re taking the first steps to build a great Bundesliga,” he said at the launch. “I’m really looking forward to the start of the season. The main point is that we now have a lot of rugby league happening and now we can give the sport the visibility in Germany it deserves.”

His sentiments were echoed by Jovan Vujosevic, Rugby League European Federation Central Europe Regional Director. “Germany has excellent sporting potential in all team sports and is one of the strongest EU economies, which opens opportunities for our growth,” he commented.

“Sustainable clubs and a competitive Bundesliga will generate a strong German rugby league federation and national team.”

Rheinland Reds, Schoengen’s own side Calbach Racoons and Karlruhe complete the line up.

Serbia Students 26 BARLA Young Lions 32

RICHARD de la RIVIERE at Ada Lake Complex

IF brutal defence and scintillating attack are up your street, then the Young Lions’ first game of their tour to Serbia would have kept you absolutely engrossed. For 80 wonderful minutes, the players kept a healthy three-figure crowd royally entertained. In the end, the tourists walked off with the stunning Belgrade Trophy, but the hosts impressed everybody with a display that bodes very well for the future of the game in Serbia.

The first ten minutes, with at least five massive hits and three tries, contained more action than most halves of football do. Todd Appleby and Jamie Martin led the way with some punishing defence and the Lions were rewarded with an early try courtesy of a well-worked move which saw Ross Gainford, the captain, laying the ball off to winger Tom Saltmer, roaming infield, who stormed onto the ball and went in by the posts.

But the visitors, to their credit, weren’t rattled. They were losing the battle upfront but they kept hold of the ball and Niksa Unkovic levelled the scores after a penalty handed the Serbs field position.

The Lions hit straight back with Saltmer scoring his second. Appleby won his side possession with the mother of all big hits from the kick off, busting open his own lip in the process. The Skirlaugh winger swooped on a loose ball and the opposition couldn’t lay a hand on him as he scorched to the corner for his second try. Gainford converted magnificently.

After Lewis Wilson and Ivan Susnjara were surprisingly sin-binned for a minor scuffle, the Serbs tied the scores with the try of the night. Stefan Nedeljkovic collected a chip over the top before sending Milos Stanic to the line but the sheer number of passes that preceeded it brought the home crowd to their feet.

The last word of a superb first half went to Andy Lea, who later left the field with an ankle-ligament injury, as he touched down Gainford’s pin-point grubber kick.

With a six-point lead, the British hoped that an early try would kill off their plucky opponents, but despite a couple of early penalties, the Serbs hung in and reduced the deficit to two points when Sasa Gencic scored outwide, forcing the ball down despite the attention of a trio of defenders.

The second half was played amid a backdrop of thunder and lightning which accentuated the atmosphere and fittingly mirrored the aggressive and thrilling action on the pitch. A couple more yellow cards followed – firstly to man of the match Todd Appleby and then to Dusan Virc for coming in late on Ben Swift. But scrum-half Matthew Meaden took the heat out of the situation by skilfully touching down after Gainford’s pass. Throughout the night, both halves demonstrated the knack of coming up with big plays when their team needed them most.

But still the Serbs would not lie down. With impressive meterage in the bank, Ivan Susnjara moved play to the left, drew the defence and freed Radovan Tajsic with a perfectly-timed pass. The winger still had plenty to do, but his blinding pace left the defence bewildered as he left them all for dead to reduce the gap to two points once again.

Not for the first time, when his side needed something, Gainford had the audacity to kick from a scrumbase from more than 20 metres. Totally alert, Jacob Crossland beat the flat-footed defence to touch down for a try that saw the hosts’ hearts finally sink.

Connor Myers almost scored an interception try but just couldn’t hold on, but moments later he gleefully took Meaden’s beautiful inside pass to score the try that finally clinched the game at 32-20 after Gainford’s fourth goal.

Fittingly the final score of the match went to Serbia’s excellent hooker, Milan Susnjara, who plunged over from dummy-half, which led to a couple of nervy late moments for the Lions, but they were able to hang on, and Gainford lifted the trophy in front of his jubilant teammates.

Co-coach Colin Phillips said: “The players adhered to the gameplan. We knew the opposition would be physical but our skill levels were more prominent than theirs.

“The Serbs scored some well-constructed tries and they gave their all for the full 80 minutes but the enthusiasm and pride in the Great Britain shirt gave the BARLA lads the incentive to win the game.”

1 Milos Stanic
2 Borko Zunic
3 Niksa Unkovic
4 Stevan Stevanovic
5 Radovan Tajsic
6 Ivan Susnjara
7 Stefan Nikolic
8 Danilo Delic
9 Milan Susnjara
10 Lazar Zivkovic
11 Stefan Nedeljkovic
12 Mirko Bozovic
13 Vuk Turdisic (C)
Subs (all used)
14 Sasa Gencic
15 Nikola Pavlovic
16 Lazar Gospavic
17 Petar Pavlovic
18 Sreten Zec
20 Dusan Virc

17 Jack Ridsdill (West Hull)
9 Chris Highton (Seaton Rangers)
16 Connor Myers (Skirlaugh Bulls)
19 Ben Swift (Cockermouth Titans)
18 Tom Saltmer (Skirlaugh Bulls)
8 Ross Gainford (C) (Kells)
14 Matthew Meaden (Ince Rose Bridge)
4 Payden Candland (Eccles)
21 Mike Whittle (Wigan St Judes)
13 Jamie Martin (Wath Brow Hornets)
3 Adam Brummitt (Shaw Cross Sharks)
12 Andy Lea (Thatto Heath Crusaders)
1 Todd Appleby (Leigh Miners Rangers)
Subs (all used)
10 Tom Holmes (Walney Central)
5 Jacob Crossland (Normanton)
22 Lewis Wilson (Kells)
6 Sam Dowsett (Askam)
2 Lewis Smith (Kells)

Men of the Match

BARLA: Todd Appleby

Serbia Students: Lazar Zivkovic

Sin Bins: Serbia Students: I Susnjara – fighting (18), Virc – running in (55) Young Lions: Wilson – fighting (18), Appleby – dissent (51)

GAMEBREAKER: Jacob Crossland’s second-half try left the hosts with two much to do.

GAMESTAR: Todd Appleby’s energy and defence were reminiscent of a young Adrian Morley.

TOP TACKLE: From an eighth-minute kick-off, Todd Appleby absolutely battered Stefan Nikolic and forced the ball free.

Serbia Students: Unkovic (7), Stanic (28), Gencic (48), Tajsic (60), M Susnjara (75). Goals: M Susnjara 3/5 BARLA Young Lions: Tries: Saltmer (5,10), Lea (32), Meaden (58), Crossland (66), Myers (72). Goals: Gainford 4/6

Scoring sequence: 0-4, 4-4, 4-10, 10-10, 10-16, 14-16, 14-22, 20-22, 20-26, 20-32, 26-32

Penalty count: 11-8

GLDO Forced: 0-0

Half-time: 10-16

Referee: Haris Dajc (Serbia)


The Lebanese Rugby League Federation has unveiled the new coaching team it hopes will lead the country into the 2013 Rugby League World Cup finals in England and Wales.

The staff, drawn from the NRL, Super League and the French federation’s elite division, sees Wests Tigers’ under-16 coach David Bayssari, an original Cedar in 1997, appointed head coach as successor to John Elias.

He leads a backroom staff that has been painstakingly assembled over several months. The 42-year old former Balmain first-grade player, whose family is from Hadchit in north Lebanon, moves into the job with high praise from his club boss Tim Sheens, the Australia coach, who was happy to endorse the appointment.

“David works with our junior representative programme and his selection as Lebanese Cedars head coach is a wonderful appointment and I wish him and the Cedars all the very best in their quest to qualify for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.”

Bayssari, who has 20-years’ top level rugby league experience as player and coach, views his appointment as one of great significance: “As a proud Lebanese-Australian I am honoured to have the opportunity to work with the Lebanese Rugby League Federation,” he said.

“I not only look forward to leading the Cedars to qualification for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup but in the development and growth of the game in Lebanon. The challenges will be immense, but with the support of the vast Lebanese community in Lebanon and abroad, I am determined we will overcome any hurdles put before us. To the entire Lebanese community, whether you live in Lebanon, Australia, Africa, America or Europe, I want this team to be your team, a team you can be proud of and support.”

Sydney Roosters’ Pierre Tannous has been appointed as assistant coach, in addition to a three-man consultancy panel comprising last year’s Cedars’ coaches, Harlequins RL duo Rob Powell and Latham Tawhai – both of whom relished their time in the Middle East and have maintained strong links with the LRLF – and the French federation’s performance director Thierry Dumaine. The new Cedars coaching team is fluent in Arabic, English and French, the three official languages of the country.

Carcassonnais Dumaine, 39, who overlooks the coaching set ups of all France’s selections, will lead Lebanon in the MENA Championship in Morocco later this month, reporting his findings to Bayssari in Sydney ahead of October’s world cup qualifiers. After the tour to Morocco, two of the senior local players will spend a two-week training camp under the watchful eye of Powell and Tawhai in London.

LRLF Chief Operating Officer Remond Safi, who masterminded the recruitment and selection process, was understandably delighted by the outcome.“These new appointments will see the LRLF go onto new heights as we now have a fine group of coaches from around the world’s most established rugby league nations all working towards developing and helping the LRLF gain a World Cup spot in 2013.”

In addition to the technical staff, Safi will be joined by a new Australian-based operations manager, Paul Arraj, currently with the NRL’s Bulldogs. Arraj will lead on fund-raising projects, not only for the qualifiers but also to support Lebanon’s burgeoning domestic programmes.


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