On the eve of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, three nations have been accorded full member status of the International Federation while a further trio have become affiliates of the European Federation, as the sport continues to spread its global reach.
The Jamaican Rugby League Association, Russian Association of Rugby League Clubs (ARLK) and the Ukrainian Rugby League Federation were all unanimously accepted as Full Members by the RLIF general assembly, convening for its AGM in Cardiff on the eve of the World Cup opening ceremony and double-header.
Also, Canada, Latvia and Malta have been accepted as Affiliate Members of the RLEF.
RLIF Chairman Scott Carter commented, “This is another really exciting development for international rugby league as we head into a World Cup that is looking like being the most successful ever.”
“All the nations bring something rich and varied to the table and I must complement the job being done by the European Federation which has worked tirelessly to develop and progress all these countries.”
Russia lost its Full Member status in 2010 following a series of breaches by the now defunct Russian Rugby League Federation. Long-serving ARLK chairman Edgard Taturyan, instrumental in re-organising the sport, commented that the recognition would add to his organisation’s bid to restore rugby league’s official status in Russia, as well as assisting with domestic operations.
“We will add this status to the package of documents to be delivered to Ministry of Sport as we seek to be included once again in the state register of sports. We’ll also inform regional sports officials and hope that it can improve rugby league’s position in local communities. The RLIF support will allow us to further consolidate the Russian Championship by giving us the opportunity to support participants’ travel costs,” he said.
Jamaica RLA Director of Rugby Romeo Monteith expressed his delight at the news. “Our inclusion is a significant milestone because it is further confirmation that we were justified in making rugby league our number priority,” he noted.
“Rugby league has built a solid base in Jamaica with a clear pathway from U12 to high schools, through universities, community clubs and to the national team. Our most significant work occurs in our high schools which are producing over 300 players yearly. We also hope to see the Reggae Warriors, our national team, perform at a high level against other nations because this will continue to raise our profile at home and abroad and ultimately, we will continue to push for the growth of the game in the Caribbean and Americas as a whole.”
For Ukraine Development Manager Artur Martyrosyan, “this is a very big step for development of the sport in our country and will help us with sponsors and partners. It is very hard to overvalue the importance of this kind of sport. Young people especially love the game and the physical contact and we are growing every day, we now have over 40 teams for children and teenagers.”
Eric Perez of the Canadian RL said, “We are extremely pleased by the news. We will continue to expand in Canada, foster growth in our region and be productive members of the RLEF and RLIF.”