By Tony Munro, Date: 30/4/12
Just weeks after the first game of Rugby League in Greece, played by Greek residents, a meeting has been called for next month to kick-start the formation of a Greek national rugby league governing body.
“Six potentially interested parties from across Greece have been invited to this meeting on May 19,” Athens-based George Stylianos told ‘Rugby League Planet’.
Stylianos is one of two Greek-Australians who have returned home and ready to capitalise on disenchantment with football (soccer). “The main reason being as they are fed up with corruption and diving cheats in the game of football,” says George.
Through word-of-mouth,he has been getting up to 25 recruits at training sessions which he recently split into two teams for the first game of rugby league in Greece involving Greek residents, albeit using the Nines format.
“Our average age is about 20, as most are students at one of the universities of Athens. I’m 25, the grandpa of the team,” Stylianos jokes. “We have a coach, who’s in his 40’s, he’s very passionate, but only discovered the game [union and league] a few years ago. I was raised in Australia, but EVERY other player in the team is a born-and raised Athenian. So at the moment, I’m having to drill the basics into them, so I’m basically the coach as well. Every player is a beginner and a few months ago hadn’t ever touched a rugby ball, but they are VERY keen to play, which is good and I’m trying to harness. We train twice a week and do a weights session once a week,” Stylianos enthuses.
The Nines game produced the following scoreline: AEK Kokkinias 42 (N.Lagia 5, D.Natsikas 2, D.Skafidas, C.Harambopoulos tries; N. Lagia 2, D.Skafidas goals) Promitheas Nikaias 18 (G.Shyti 3, M.Sotiropoulos; G.Shyti goal).
The other of the two Greek-Australians mentioned above is coach of a Rugby Union team on the island of Rodos, which is ready to make the jump along with another Rugby Union club on the island, but wants to be sure of having opposition to play. There is also a Union club based in the western city of Patras, fed up with Union politics, who are also ready to switch.
Stylianos is keen to emphasise he and those behind the new thrust are completely independent of the old administration which fielded pseudo Greek national teams comprising mainly Australian residents of Greek ancestry. “We are making a fresh start. We hope in the next few months to have registered federation with the govt and then we’ll go from there.”