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Monday, 29 May 2017

Lebanon Host Italy in Mediterranean Cup

Lebanon are aiming to retain the Mediterranean Cup when they face Italy in Beirut on 3 June.
Originally played for in 2002, the Cup was relaunched last season when the Cedars edged a superb game, 26-22, against the Azzurri in Sicily.
That encounter was between teams comprised of only domestically-produced players and the same stipulation will apply this year as the Federazione Italiana Rugby League and Lebanese Rugby League Federation continue to strengthen a bilateral relationship that also saw an historic women’s Test match played in February.
Lebanon’s Director of Performance Tarek Houchar who, as interim head coach, led the Cedars to a 24-4 win against Malta earlier this month, commented: “The players take nothing for granted in Lebanon; their passion, commitment and attitude towards representing the nation is exemplary. I’m excited to see some fresh new faces in our train-on squad.
“Our biggest aim is to create a culture amongst the players that can hopefully leave a great legacy behind. Retaining the Med Cup will be our objective, but playing for one another will be its own victory.”
Italy coach Kelly Rolleston noted: “The match is at the start of our domestic season and with 2017 being a World Cup year, all of our players are motivated to put in a good performance to show the coaching staff what they can offer.
“We have had a couple of camps in the north and south of Italy recently and the amount of young players present and the enthusiasm shown by all involved was impressive. This is the first of a number of opportunities that our domestic players will have this year to put their hand up for the autumn.”
The Mediterranean Cup was launched in 2002 between France and Lebanon and played in Tripoli between the hosts, France, Morocco and Serbia for two more years before its 12-year hiatus. Lebanon is the defending, and so far only, Mediterranean Cup champion.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

USA RL Season Begins on 3/6/17

USA RL Season VII delivers a blockbuster summer of USA Rugby League 2017. 
USA RL will see eight teams competing in the NORTH Conference 
and 
four teams in the SOUTH Conference.
VIEW THE FULL SCHEDULE: 

The 21st season of club Rugby League in America kicks off on Saturday 3/6/17 when the White Plains Wombats XIII take on the Boston 13s RLFC in the season opener.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Progress Made in Hungary

Following two victories at the start of 2017, their initial successes in the international arena – beating Uruguay 50-4 and Thailand 44-10 – Hungary rugby league secured the highest rise in the recently published Rugby League International Federation World Rankings, moving up five places to 33rd.
It comes as the result of a chance coming together in late 2015, which has seen rugby league begin to blossom under the Magyars banner.
Michael Hay began working with the Hungarian Rugby League Federation after finishing his playing career in France, where he’d met a Hungarian and moved to her home country to get married. Since then he has coached the Magyar Bulls national team and improved league knowledge and skills in domestic players.
Around the same time, Stephen Nemeth, a Hungarian citizen born in Australia, contacted the HRLF through Facebook. He had been living in Budapest for five months, grown up playing rugby league in Australia and, as it turned out, he and Hay played against each other.
Nemeth not only had a background in playing but also running a club in Sydney, Australia, with experience in player recruitment, sponsorship and club management and he took on the role of Hungarian Rugby League director in Australia.
Nemeth recruited experienced coach Jonathan Wilson, also based in Sydney, who is now assisting Hay with coaching Hungary’s national team.
“On the back of the international wins, interest in rugby league in Hungary spiked, with record numbers of people enquiring about trying out here,” said HRLF official Zsolt Lukacs.
“As a result, we are planning three more Test matches to be played this year; one against Poland in Budapest and a home and away series with the Czech Republic. For those games there will be four heritage players travelling from Australia to Hungary to work with the domestic players for a month, and assist in developing the domestic game in Hungary.”
Lukacs continued: “In exchange, the HRLF has arranged to have a number of domestic players travel to Australia each year in October or November to play in representative matches there. The Magyar Bulls will compete in the Kings Cup in Thailand over nine days in October where they will receive intense training from Jonathan Wilson as well as Phil Perry and Jayden McGregor, Hungary’s Level 2 and Level 1 trainers.”
For 2018, plans are in place for up to 10 domestic players to join the heritage qualified in Australia for the Emerging Nations Rugby League World Championship, to be played in Sydney during October.
Alongside, HRLF is now putting in place plans to use this increased interest to develop a fully-fledged domestic competition.

Monday, 15 May 2017

New Nations in World Rankings


In November, Australia will go into RLWC2017 (which they co-host with NZ) further strengthened in their World Rankings Number 1 position after their recent ANZAC Test victory.
Two new nations appear for the first time with the inclusion of Thailand and Uruguay. This takes the total to 42 and reflects the greater number of sanctioned internationals being played globally.
Leilani Latu’s last-gasp try for Tonga to beat Fiji 26-24 in last week’s Pacific triple-header saw them move up one rung on the ladder, whilst the biggest gainers are Hungary who rise five places to 33.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Lebanon and Malta Take Positives


A dominant first half performance saw Lebanon take the next step in preparing for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, as they defeated Malta 24-4 at the New Era Stadium in Cabramatta. They will play in the same group as Australia, England and France come the tournament.
The Cedars led 18-4 at the break, Malta containing the hosts to just a converted try in the second period. Star of the show was Lebanon stand off Abbas Miskie who crossed for a hat-trick of tries and kicked a perfect four goals.
“With limited time together leading into the game, we came together well and everyone performed,” Miskie said. “There’s always an extra bit of drive inside of you when you’re representing your country and the boys definitely showed that passion.
“The tactical side will come with time but it was definitely pleasing to see the comradery shown among the group which I think is one of the main recipes for a successful campaign come the World Cup.”
Stand in coach, LRLF director of performance Tarek Houchar added: “To Malta’s credit they kept coming at us for 80 minutes, I was more impressed with our defence in conceding one try. If we can carry this attitude into the World Cup anything is possible, there’s a good feeling amongst this playing group and we will continue to develop into a country that can earn the respect from other nations.”
Loose forward Andrew Kazzi was also a standout for his side.
For Malta, coach Peter Cassar was impressed with his side’s resilience. “Aside from being out-enthused for the opening 15 minutes, we dug in and weren’t far off for the rest of the game,” he noted. “Maltese people are very proud of their rugby league team. A packed suburban stadium was evidence that this game is a popular fixture, as did an impressive live-stream audience of over thirty thousand viewers.”

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Kangaroos, Kiwis and Lions Tours Scheduled

The next four-year International Rugby League calendar has been confirmed today (May 9th 2017) at a meeting of the Board of the Rugby League International Federation in Sydney. Headlining the calendar is the return of Kangaroos and Lions Tours.
The four-year cycle, beginning in 2018, will include a New Zealand tour to Europe and an Emerging Nations championship in 2018, followed by a Lions Tour to the Southern Hemisphere in 2019, and a Kangaroos Tour to Europe in 2020. The Kangaroos Tour will feature at least three Test matches against England and one Test against France.
The final year of the next cycle, 2021, will feature the Rugby League Men’s and Women’s World Cups in the UK.
To support the development of Tier Two nations, the RLIF will work with the Continental Federations to strengthen existing regional competitions in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Americas and Middle East/Africa.
The RLIF also authorised the creation a dedicated mid-season international weekend, giving nations an opportunity to participate in a co-ordinated suite of fixtures for men and women that will incorporate the current Pacific Test Series.
The RLIF Board further committed to preparation of a thorough business case for international Nines with the potential for a pinnacle World Cup for men and women to be held in 2019 and both youth and women’s nines included as part of the Commonwealth Games Festival in 2018.
Additionally the Board determined that qualification for World Cups will be concluded two years prior to each event with the qualifiers for the 2021 World Cup in England to be completed by December 2019.
RLIF Chairman Nigel Wood commented:
“Today’s RLIF Board made significant progress across a number of vitally important topics for international rugby league. Most importantly we resolved a cohesive calendar for International Rugby League for the period through 2021. I am sure supporters will welcome the reintroduction of Lions, Kangaroos and Kiwi Tours in particular but the calendar provides new opportunities for all our Members and embraced the expansion of Nines, providing an exciting future for players, supporters and members alike.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Balkan Cup Plans Confirmed

RLEF Central & Eastern Europe regional director, Jovan Vujosevic, recently announced plans for the Balkan Cup in October 2017. 

He described progress made by the Turkish RL Association, how they will host the GB Student Pioneers and continued:

"the national team will play in the Belgrade Euro 9s in June and the Balkan Cup in October 2017 alongside Serbia, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria who are so far confirmed.”

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Balkan Super League Launched

Serbia have confirmed themselves as a driving force behind European RL development by launching the Balkan Super League (BSL)
This ambitious competition includes four clubs from Serbia and a team each from Bosnia Herzegovina, Turkey, and Bulgaria. It has the potential to become an elite club competition and is the result of hard work being done to develop the game domestically in a number of European countries.
It is expected that Greece will enter at least one club in the BSL after the RLEF recently granted them Observer status.
The travel distances and costs across southern/eastern Europe make the BSL an attractive proposition for clubs and it provides players with an opportunity to develop skills and play at a higher level.
Serbian RL President and BSL Director, Blagoje Stoiljković believes bigger things are on the horizon.
“We are confident that this is just a first step in the prosperous future of the sport in region.
Serbia as a rugby league leader in this part of the Europe is determined to help elevate the quality of the game in the emerging countries in every possible way.
This is obviously a test year, but we can already feel a positive energy from all the country participants.”
Serbia currently run an eight team domestic competition and were close to RLWC 2017 qualification using all domestic players but were beaten by an Italian team filled with heritage players.
In a sign that Serbian standards are improving, rising star Vladimir Milutinovic of Partizan Belgrade has been invited for a trial by French club Toulouse Olympique who are currently second in the Kingstone Press Championship table.
Clubs competing in th 2017 Balkan Super League are:
Novi Beograd, Partizan, Dorcol and Red Star (All Serbia)
Vitez (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Lokomotiv Sofia (Bulgaria)
Kadikoy Bulls (Turkey)
Another participating club is likely to be announced in the next few weeks.