17 Jan 2013

The RLEF has continued its work on strengthening its member governing bodies through the European Commission-supported Governance Foundation Project, which sees Full Member nations mentoring smaller members that are shaping their own organisational structure and procedures. It is an oft-overlooked but essential part of the RLEF’s responsibilities, with governance issues historically hampering the sport’s ability to flourish, and with best practice in the governance sector so vital to potential donors and investors in the current economic climate.

The latest bilateral co-operation has been between Rugby League Ireland and the Federazione Italiana Rugby League. In December, FIRL general secretary Fabio DiPietro visited Dublin for RLI’s annual general meeting, while RLI official Conor Kelly reciprocated two weeks later. The relationship has strengthened with FIRL and RLI enjoying open channels of communication and benefitting from sharing experiences and methods.

“Being part of the Rugby League Ireland AGM was a real pleasure,” said DiPietro. “I was fully immersed in rugby league and showed how professional the people involved in Rugby League Ireland are. I’ve seen how much we can learn from Ireland and would like to reiterate what a big pleasure it is for FIRL to be engaged with this special nation.”

DiPietro, who has been involved in the administrative side of FIRL for many years, then co-ordinated Kelly’s return visit to Venice. “Having an Irish delegate involved in our AGM was really useful, Conor’s professional attitude and great competence shows the knowledge that he has, coming from a really great federation like is RLI. He has done his work perfectly and was professional and exhaustive at all times. He helped FIRL a lot.”

FIRL is currently involved in the detailed work surrounding its constitution, which has been undergoing a series of re-drafts since the summer, work which continues to ensure a robust framework and to avoid some of the problems that have beset rugby league in Italy in the recent past.

“Being invited to be an observer at the FIRL AGM was an absolute privilege for me,” said Kelly. “Rugby league in Italy is at a very pivotal point; with their involvement in the World Cup next year they have a great chance to grow the sports domestically.

“It is vital that the correct structures are in place in order to aid such growth and it was a huge honour to be able to give advice to FIRL along these lines. The sport’s development within Italy is very much a work in progress but there are some very passionate people involved at all levels and this bodes well for the organisation in the future.

“Following Fabio’s involvement in Rugby League Ireland’s AGM it was very encouraging to see that they are trying to put similar structures in place. They have got improvements to make but they are eager to make these improvements so more people in Italy can enjoy rugby league. I hope that both nations continue to work together and learn from each other so that the sport can grow internationally and I know that RLEF will be keen for the link between Ireland and Italy to strengthen.”

The project continues next month with the RFL visiting the CZRLA’s AGM in Prague.

Pictured: Dublin, scene of the 2 December RLI AGM.