By Phil Caplan, Date: 31/5/13
The Great Britain Student Pioneers, who tour emerging countries in an effort to promote and develop rugby league will venture outside Europe for the first time since their formation in 2005, when they head to Morocco in June.
The Squad is assembled from players representing England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales students and has so far been to Estonia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Ukraine, Norway, Kazakhstan, Greece and Poland.
This year a squad of 20 has been selected from 14 different universities with inclusion criteria considering not only their ability to play the sport to high standard but also a proven track record in undertaking rugby league development activity.
GB Pioneers Team Manager Keith Sandhu said, â€œIt is an exciting prospect to go over to North Africa and work with the Moroccans already playing rugby league as well as introducing it to new communities
Steve Curtis, the Tour Manager, added, â€œAll the players and staff are excited about the tour this year, heading outside of Europe in a World Cup year is a fantastic opportunity for all involved to help spread the rugby league word. I hope we can give the Moroccans the tools to grow the sport and cement their own foundations.â€
â€œThroughout their history the Pioneers have toured across Europe providing the opportunity for students to develop themselves as well as the game,â€ noted Kate Hebden Education Services Manager at the RFL
â€œThe 2013 tour to Morocco offers another exciting opportunity for players within the student game to experience a new culture and pass on their knowledge of the game.â€
The Rugby League European Federation has also been an important conduit in getting the tour up and running. Danny Kazandjian General manager at the RLEF commented, â€œThe RLEF has long considered Morocco an important country, with its ties to France and standing in the MENA region, and itâ€™s our belief that given the right structure it can grow to be a formidable rugby league nation.â€
â€œThe Federation Marocaine de Rugby League (FMRL) is a relatively new organisation, having achieved recognition in 2012, but they have been very proactive in organising this tour, with matches set for the capital, Rabat, as well as in Casablanca and Berrechid. I thank the GB Pioneers for their ground-breaking visit and hope it can pave the way for the Moroccans to establish a club championship.â€
The upcoming tour has created some excitement and seen as an opportunity to grow the game in Morocco, Mustapha Jedoual, FMRL president said, â€œ2013 is a decisive stage in the life of the FMRL, which has witnessed sustained growth and a constant rise in the number of participants. When we welcome the GB Pioneers it will mark a major international event for our young federation.â€
GB Pioneer Squad:
Joe Warrick (University of Essex), Richard Squires (Northumbria University) , Daniel Bedford (Liverpool John Moores University), Finn Turley (Brunel University), Mike Butcher (University of Nottingham), Harry Kaufman (Coventry University), Charlie Stockhill (University of Essex), Maddhav Kolthari (University of Bradford), Ed Karawieckwicz (University of Bath), Sam King (University of Leeds), Dave Lewis (University of Hull), Stefen Archer (Brunel University), Jonny Morris (University of Leeds), Billy Griffiths (University of Huddersfield), Richard Kirk (University of Northampton), Alex Mills-Baker (University of Exeter), George Smith (Swansea University), George Bryant (Swansea University), Owen Henderson (Oxford Brookes University), Josh Dickson (Leeds Metropolitan University)