By Phil Caplan, Date: 22/5/13
Ukraine has joined European rugby leagueâ€™s top table after the RLEF board of directors granted the UFRL full member status.
Jubilant UFRL president Artur Martyrosyan commented, “This is a great victory for Ukrainian rugby league. My heartfelt congratulations go out to all the fans, players and federation staff who have contributed to this historic event. I would like to express my gratitude to the RLEF directors for their trust and support of the sport in Ukraine. Now begins a new and more advanced stage of development here.”
The UFRL, formed in 2006, and which received government recognition in March 2012, has engineered exceptional growth since the relatively recent launch of the Ukrainian Championship in 2009. This year sees the federation operating two six-team senior divisions, six-team divisions at U14, U16 and U18 levels, the â€˜First Capital Cupâ€™ for U20s, as well as 24 teams at U12. The national team will be looking to perform strongly in the European Bowl, against Norway and the Czech Republic, as they seek promotion to the European Shield.
RLEF Central and Eastern Europe Regional Director Jovan Vujosevic is pleased with the progress the UFRL has made. â€œThis is a major plus for the whole Eastern European region. In the last few years â€“ especially the last two – Ukraine showed huge development through the RLEF strategy and this is the reward for all the work the UFRL has done in that time,â€ he said. The UFRL will apply for RL International Federation Full Member status this year, along with Jamaica and Russia.
At the same meeting, the Belgian Rugby League Association was accepted as an Observer, signalling the recommencement of the sport, where it was briefly played in 2009. The new Belgian rugby league leadership recently attended coaching and match officiating courses in Holland, impressing the RLEF tutors.
Yves-Michael Kazadi, President of the BRLA noted, â€œWe are delighted to be a member of the RLEF. It will certainly be a great opportunity and we will do our best to continue to develop rugby league through our community and, in the coming years, a challenging national team for other countries.”