By Richard Cowley, Date: 24/6/13
While other nations will be heading to the UK for the 2013 RLWC in October, Greece will be looking to start a rugby league competition of their own.
The Greeks have slowly been building towards the start of a local domestic competition over the last few years. The global financial crisis and unrest in Greece have not made the already challenging task any easier.
The Greeks have been playing at international level for a while, mainly relying on heritage players from Australia and the UK. In October last year the Greeks took on and defeated Vanuatu 24 – 14 in an international at Port Vila with a combination of local and heritage players. The biggest challenge for the Greeks over the years has been implementing a local domestic competition.
In December last year in a sign that the right structure was finally being implemented to start a domestic competition, the Greek rugby League held their first ever level 1 rugby league coaching course in Greece. The course saw 5 locals Greeks trained up on all things rugby league.
This year the roll towards a domestic competition continues. In June the Greeks held a rugby league 9’s tournament involving 3 teams from Athens and one team that travelled over from the Island of Rhodes. The team from Rhodes ended up winning with the tournament which was hailed as a great success by organisers. It also allowed the Greek Rugby League to measure the interest from locals on the start-up of a regular domestic rugby league competition.
The final piece of the puzzle will be in October when the Greek Rugby League look to kick-start domestic rugby league with a local competition being planned. The competition is on track to have 5 teams with four based out of Athens and one based in Rhodes.
If all goes to plan in October, the Greeks will have 2017 RLWC qualification on the agenda. With a regular domestic competition implemented the Greeks will be close to meeting the criteria required to participate in the 2017 Rugby League World cup qualifiers.
The Greeks will be taking a leaf out of Italy’s rugby league start-up book. The Italian’s (who were in the same position as Greece a few years ago) now have a solid domestic competition and will be playing in their first ever rugby league world cup at the end of the year. A World Cup that could change the course of rugby league in Italy forever. The Greeks will be looking to replicate Italian’s rugby league success story come 2017 and write their own chapter in the growth of rugby league around the planet.