7 Feb 2011

FIRL, the governing body of Italian Rugby League, has received a double boost on and off the field with the announcement that they have secured Affiliate status within the Rugby League European Federation and added former Great Britain international Paul Broadbent to bolster their coaching ranks.

Established in 2008 - as a natural evolution of Italia Rugby League which was founded in Australia in 1995 - FIRL has begun to successfully develop the code, which is also known as Rugby 13, at domestic and international level in the country.

The 2010 competition saw six clubs contest the Italian Championship while the Azzurri has competed in 12 internationals in the last three seasons, winning seven of them, including in the European Shield, European Cup and, most notably, a 13-6 success in Wales last October.

Those efforts have seen the Rugby League European Federation recognise such progress by upgrading Italy’s status from Observer to Affiliate nation status.

RLEF General Manager Danny Kazandjian commented, “Part of our new eight year strategy is to ensure a solid stable of members which will result in more robust National Governing Bodies expanding participation numbers and becoming more mature and effective organisations.”

He continued, “FIRL has shown a great willingness to improve its administration over the last 12 months resulting in it becoming one of the first two members, alongside the Jamaican Rugby League Association, to elevate their status from Observer to Affiliate.”

“The RLEF is continuing to work with FIRL’s Board to strengthen the Italian game’s operations even further.”

As a result, FIRL has offered the post of Assistant Technical Director to former GB prop and current Wakefield Assistant coach Paul Broadbent, a Challenge Cup winner at Wembley with Sheffield Eagles.

He will add his expertise alongside Italian coach Carlo Napolitano in the management of the national side and the technical development of the sport in Italy.

At the formal announcement of his new role, Paul said, “I am very pleased to be involved in what I perceive to be a very enthusiastic and passionate organisation.”

“There is a need to develop game understanding and core skills in the Italian based players but there will be a real opportunity to see them move forward as an international force.”

He saw the Italians in action in Wales last autumn and was clearly impressed by the base from which to work.

“That game was a good advert for anyone looking to play the sport in Italy,” he noted. “To bring it on further there, the domestic competition must continue to increase its level with as many teams as possible taking part and the future looks very positive.”

“You could clearly see the desire, spirit and tough never-say-die attitude that are pre-requisites for success in the code.”

“With World Cup 2013 qualifiers in the offing, this a very exciting time to get involved and I am thoroughly looking forward to the role and the challenge ahead.”