Catch Up Rugby League: Part 1

By Various

Yes, sorry once again. My work and travels have got to me and I find myself doing some catch up Rugby league with news and happenings around the world. This will most probably be plat into a few articles over the next day or two so please bare with me. But as many of you would know its been a roller coaster ride for the sport in many countries. So lets go!


From Phil Caplan, RLEF

Hungary and the Czech Republic will contest the 2012 European Bowl, the Rugby League European Federation’s third tier competition.

Hungary XIII hosted the Czechs in 2011 but this year’s competition, on 14 July, will see both sides play as official national teams and fighting not only for the silverware but for world ranking points.

The match will be played in the east of the Czech Republic at the Vrchlabi club’s new, purpose-built rugby league facility. The town boasts a record crowd for Czech rugby league for the Moravia v Bohemia ‘Origin’ game last June.

“This year’s European Bowl is significant in some important aspects,” commented Czech Rugby League Association president John Anderson. “It is an excellent example of the expansion of our sport in Europe in general, and in particular, for us here in the Czech Republic. To be able to host Hungary on our own pitch, made possible by the hard work of the Mad Squirrels club and the generosity of spirit by the town administration is an excellent achievement.”

Anderson and his colleagues have every reason to be bullish. The CZRLA has more than doubled the amount of competing clubs since last season and expects that all nine will be represented in the national team. The European Bowl will be preceded by at least two preliminary matches, featuring both first and second division teams in a ‘Euro Bowl Festival of Rugby League’.

The Hungarians, who only started playing rugby league last year, have had several matches against Serbian club sides and are looking to put in an improved performance on their 16-38 home loss to the Czech’s in the Bowl last year.

“The challenge we face is a mountain at the moment,” said Hungary official Zsolt Habozcki, “but we see a path that leads towards the top. We are at the very start of organising our operations and life over here and are trying to find the path, our path. But, we are up for the challenge against the Czechs.”

The Magyar Bulls will prepare for the tie with the first Hungarian Cup on 7 July. “Staging these events will give us a good push in letting the Hungarian rugby community learn and get involved with the sport,” continued Habozcki.

Next year the Bowl will double as a qualifying tournament for the 2014-15 European Shield.



Tripoli City Kings RLFC, in their debut season, have been crowned Lebanese rugby league champions after defeating the Immortals RLFC, 34-14 in Beirut.

The Kings dethroned the reigning champions who, having participated in all five Bank of Beirut Championship finals – losing the first two – and were looking for a hat-trick of victories against the northern newcomers.

The omens had not been auspicious for the Immortals following a serious training ground injury to all-time leading Lebanese points scorer Rudy Hachache, who fractured his leg in three places in the build up.

Having won just one of their opening five matches Tripoli finished second in the league ladder after a mid-season revival but gathered momentum to claim the title and victory now provides player/coach and try scorer, Naaman Naaman with the impetus to establish the club in the sporting landscape of the country’s second city.

“As the first northern-based team to take part in the Bank of Beirut Championship, no one gave us much hope against an impressive Immortals side,” said a jubilant Allen Soultan, the Kings’ captain. “However, our self-belief and camaraderie got us through in the end, as it has all year. The boys showed talent and experience beyond their years and enjoyed a fitting end to their Cinderella story.”

In a captivating grand final, Mohamed Merheb’s opener for Tripoli was cancelled out by George Rahal’s score four minutes later, Jad Hachem’s successful conversion giving the men from Beirut a 6-4 advantage, the only time they were to lead in the match.

The sides were level 10-all at the break but three converted tries in the opening nine minutes of the second half gave Tripoli a 28-10 lead that broke the green-and-whites’ resolve.

Despite Robin Hachache lifting his side with a typical try to make it 28-14 the Immortals were unable to close the gap, Charbel Khattar wrapping up an unexpected but deserved win.

Immortals RLFC 14 (10) v (10) 34 Tripoli City RLFC

Immortals Tries: George Rahal, Adam Itani, Robin Hachache
Immortals Goals: Jad Hachem 1/3

Tripoli City Tries: Mohamed Merheb, Charbel Khattar 2, Naaman Naaman, Mike Elias 2
Tripoli City Goals: Mohamed Merheb 5/6


From Phil Caplan, RLEF

Just four months after gaining official recognition, the Ukraine Rugby League Federation has completed its first formal championship season, with Legion XIII crowned senior champions.

“This year rugby league in Ukraine started a new era of domestic competition,” said development manager Artur Martyrosyan. “We now have two senior leagues;  the first division, which is played under 13-a-side rules and a second division, which is played under the 9s format. Also, we have two age categories of children`s competitions, under-14s and under-16s, with four-teams in each.”

Donbass Tigers from Donestsk were runners up in the title race ahead of Atlantis (Dnepropetrovsk) and Rhinos (Krivoi Rog) with the champions from Kharkov victorious in all nine matches played. The national media reported extensively on the competition.

“ODUSH” (Odessa), “DUSH” (Krasnoarmeysk), Donbas Tigers and the Krivoy Rog Rhinos fielded sides in the under-14s competition while Donbas Tigers, the Rhinos, “Typhoon” (Donetsk) and “Gornyak” (Krivoi Rog) competed in the under-16s competition,.” continued Martyrosyan

“We are really seeing how interest in rugby league is on the rise. Every game attracted more spectators and more kids signing up with their local club. This is a good base for the UFRL’s big plans, which include introducing more teams in every league and our national team on a bigger stage.”


By Anthony Micallef

In a deferred match day three fixture from earlier this month, Gozo RL benefitted the points over Kavallieri RL when the two teams met last night at Balzan FC.

The MRL deemed the fixture a development match and awarded the two points to Gozo RL following Kavallieri RL’s two successive postponements of the fixture but Gozo took the spoils with a crushing 46-10 result.

As the Health Ministry delivered warnings of the temperatures expected to hit the islands in the coming days, warm conditions again greeted the teams for what would be the last event on the MRL calendar before the summer break.

Gozo player-coach Clifford Debattista said it was a long deserved move off the bottom of the ladder.

“This is the end of our second season in the Maltese domestic championship and we’ve seen a lot of hard work go into the team, so it’s good to get some recognition on the championship standings – even if Sliema already won the overall championship last week but they were the standout team of the competition” said Debattista.

The experience gained from his most recent Malta call-up seemed to add an extra dimension to Gary Hili’s game while Roderick Attard made a quiet comeback in too, Kavallieri RL’s last match of the season; with the on-loan Joe Paolella providing another good showing for Kavallieri, both crossing for four pointers.

Gozo winger Stefan Buttigieg crossed for a double in each half and player-coach Debattista later said the club would break before coming together again for the international tag rugby festival where it will field a team in September and is currently in talks with a possible major sponsor ready to ink a three-year deal.

“There have been some good inroads made over the last season. We’ve launched the youth sector a few weeks ago, we’ve welcomed new players this season, we registered our first official victories in tag rugby and the Dove Men+Care Championship, we’re also talking with sponsors, it’s all getting some legs, both on and off the pitch” said Debattista.


Gozo RL 46 (S.Buttigieg 4, G.Hili 3, C.Debattista, E.Borg tries; C.Debattista 5 from 9 goals) defeated
Kavallieri RL 10 (J.Paolella, R.Attard tries; J.Paolella 1 from 2 goals)
H-T: Gozo RL 20-10
Best & Fairest: S.Buttigieg (Gozo RL) & J.Paolella (Kavallieri RL)
Ref: A.Micallef
At Balzan FC Ground

2012 MRL Dove Men+Care Championship Standings
Sliema Stompers 6pts (+74) – 2012 MRL Championship Winners
Malta Origin 4pts (-6)
Gozo RL 2pts (+0)
Kavallieri RL 0pts (-68)

Top Tryscorers:
8: M.Camilleri (Sliema Stompers)
6: M.Attard (Sliema Stompers) and L.Naphausen (Malta Origin)
5: J.Criminale (Malta Origin) and R.Meintjes (Sliema Stompers)

Top Point Scorers:
72: Malcolm Attard (Sliema Stompers) = 6 tries, 24 goals
64: D.Frendo (Malta Origin) = 4 tries, 24 goals
32: M.Camilleri (Sliema Stompers) = 8 tries
28: R.Meintjes (Sliema Stompers) = 5 tries, 4 goals


From Phil Caplan, RLEF

A Nederlandse Rugby League Bond delegation attended the French Federation’s AGM on Saturday as part of the RLEF’s Governance Foundation Project. The project is in partnership with the European Commission and is designed to improve governance in European rugby league through a series of mentor-learner exchanges and institutional level links.

One of five such partnerships sees the French act as Dutch rugby league’s mentor, a relationship that commenced with NRLB chairman Jason Bruygoms and director Timo Meinders’ visit to Salon de Provence, 50km north of Marseille, to the 69th FFRXIII congress. The Dutch will host a French delegation in 2013 for their AGM, with an accompanying assessment of the NRLB’s governance practices to follow.

“On behalf of the NRLB I would like to thank the RLEF and the FFRXIII for making this weekend and opportunity possible,” said Bruygoms. “A lot was learnt on how a successful federation can be run with the correct governance and we shall be applying what we have seen and learnt here in the Netherlands with the perspective of further growth. We are proud to have a ‘big brother’ in this project like France.”

The Dutch attended the formal AGM in the morning, then observed two of the Federation’s commissions in action – the Federale, or amateur leagues, strategy meeting and then the youth commission – before holding talks with FFRXIII technical director Patrick Pedrazzani, head of match officials Francis Desplas, RLIF Development Manager Tas Baitieri and RLEF General Manager Danny Kazandjian.

“We have made some new friends in the French rugby league community,” said Meinders. “I want to thank the French rugby league and all the people who have shown an interest in helping Dutch rugby league. We were able to discuss some strategic plans with France and the RLEF and the outcome was a number of changes and projects to give rugby league a better basis in the Netherlands.”


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