18 Jun 2014

The Italian segment of the joint RLEF-EU Leadership Devolution Project has concluded after a packed four days of activity in Piacenza. Three other nations – Ireland, Greece and Hungary – joined the hosts to receive tutor training and two level one courses in match officiating and coaching.

Greece’s Aris-Konstantinos Dardamanis said: “The match officials course was very well organized and taught me a lot in a very short time,” while his Hungarian counterpart Balint Mezes enthused: “The course was a good experience; as a young  rugby league nation we now have the tools to develop rugby league back home.  We now go back with the confidence that we can train our own match officials.

Ireland sent head match official Jason Craughwell to Italy in support of FIRL match officials chief Guido Bonnatti and RLEF match official development squad members Danny McNeice from England and Serbia’s Radoslav Novakovic. “We had a great bunch of people with different experiences in rugby league,” said Craughwell. “But all of them had one thing in common which was they wanted to develop and improve as match officials.”

On the coaching side, Italy’s Chris De Meyer joined the programme supporting 2013 RLEF course graduate Tiziano Franchini. “It was great to see the different cultures and input from everyone involved,” De Meyer commented. “Technically I have improved my knowledge and understanding of what is needed when coaching coaches.  This opportunity will allow FIRL to continue the progress we have made over the last three years.  These are exciting times!”

Former GB international Des Foy will play a leading role in RL Ireland’s new plan to re-focus on the domestic game. “It was great to see the newer nations really embrace rugby league and its values,” the ex-Widnes, Oldham and Huddersfield player - who toured down under in 1984 - noted. “This course has given us the chance to speak about our local situations and to help each other develop into strong rugby league nations.”

Hungary’s coach tutor-candidates will next lead a Level 1 coaching course on home soil, while Greece will undertake match official activity there in November.

The delegates for the match officials seminar were: Danny McNeice, Rale Novakovic (RLEF), Jason Craughwell (RLI), Aris-Konstantinos Dardamanis,  George Stilianos, Nikolaos Kostakis (HFRL), Jeno Juhasz, Zsolt Lukacs (HRLF),  Guido Bonnatti and Ciprian Gajulete (FIRL).

The delegates for the coaching seminar were: Martin Crick (RLEF), Michael Aughey, Desmond Foy (RLI), Anastasios Pantazidis, Dimitrios Minadakis, Matthew-Alan Ashill (HFRL), Balint Mezes, Katalin Huszti, Istvan Toth, Gyula Herpai (HRLF), Chris DeMeyer, Kelly Rolleston and Tiziano Franchini (FIRL).

Pictured: FIRL's Guido Bonnatti and the RLEF's Radoslav Novakovic go through hand signals with the European tutor candidates.