2 Nov 2016

A total of 16 nations attended the RLEF congress held in Bray near Dublin, Ireland last weekend, with delegates from Turkey and Bulgaria joining for the first time.

Both nations are in the latter stages of forming associations whilst Poland submitted their application for Polska Rugby XIII to receive formal recognition.

The Council endorsed the Board’s recommendation to re-appoint Paul Nicholson as an independent director for a further two years. Nicholson, CEO of Inside World Football, is taking the lead on the RLEF’s broadcast partnerships as the sport prepares to move into a new eight-year cycle following next year’s World Cup.

“The next two years are very important for international rugby league in Europe as more nations become increasingly competitive,” said Nicholson. “As the RLEF has expanded so we need to work on increasing and improving our media footprint.

“With the international calendar becoming clearer, we have an identifiable set of rights that can be taken to the broadcast and sponsorship markets through to 2022. They are a compelling proposition and allow broadcasters to programme a multi-year schedule of international rugby league in Europe," he added.

RLEF Chairman Maurice Watkins, CBE noted: “The members are the beating heart of the RLEF and through their endeavours both our European dimension and the sport’s capacity will grow.”

Watkins also welcomed independent director Sally Bolton and newly elected French rugby league president Marc Palanques to their first annual congress, with Palanques elected as vice chairman by the Board.

Serbia RL’s Nebojsa Sretenovic stood down from the Board after a six-year spell, his compatriot Blagoje Stoijlkovic, an engineer from Belgrade, and Scotland Rugby League nominee Graeme Thompson, who first served in 2010, elected unopposed on a two-year mandate.

Des Foy of Rugby League Ireland praised the role EuroTag - a non-contact version of the game - has had in a number of countries, whilst Jovan Vujosevic of the Serbian Rugby League Federation indicated there was growing support within the membership to increase the number of domestic players in any match involving national teams played within RLEF jurisdiction.

In a full weekend of activity that included watching Ireland qualify for the 2017 RLWC when beating Russia, the members were also involved in an interactive workshop run by RLEF match officials manager Tom Mather to discuss the new technical training programme, as well as receiving a presentation from RLI’s Richard Egan on the host federation’s strategy.

“I would like to thank Dr Mick Molloy and the whole of Rugby League Ireland for staging a successful and interesting weekend,” said Watkins.

The countries represented were: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, France, Greece, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, Russia, Turkey, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Ukraine and Wales