Darren Fisher, Spanish Rugby League coach, responded to his first Rugby League questions in Spain on the Balon Oval website with Juan Maria Garcia Talona.
1. Good morning Mr Fisher, the first question is obligated: how did the idea arise to train in Spain?
Hello and thank you very much for your interest and for talking with me today.
I had seen a series of articles with respect to Spain Rugby League in various news sites and on social media. I am personally very interested in people of all ages to learn the game, I wanted to get involved in the development of rugby in a project like this League. So I was lucky that I had contact and spoke to some key people from the Spanish project with Mr. Dulley and Mr. Davila. I think that they were very impressed with my ideas and gave me this fantastic opportunity.
2. Until you had contact and the sports direction of the AER League began, what was known of the Spanish Rugby League?
I was in Spain during vacation time and I said to my wife, there should be Rugby League here, it would be great, and I wondered why there was none. Then I saw an advertisement in some media for players to play for Spain Rugby League clubs in Valencia and Madrid. When I was back in England, it seemed that someone heard me. So the destiny brought me here now.
It was then when we started to talk about where they were and at this moment, etc. and what they are trying to achieve.
I think it is a fantastic project.
3. Do you know of the Spanish Rugby in general?
I knew when we contacted, with respect to the ideas that had been behind the project of rugby league in Spain, that there was a Union.
I like the passion with which the Spanish players train and play here.
4. You have been a professional player in England and also have coaching experience in the country. In this new stage that has started in your career, what s the main long-term objective with the XIII Bulls?
For me, the long term goal is to have a competitive and popular rugby league competition, and that many will enjoy it, as in England or France. A successful national team that, in future, can compete in the World Cup is also on my mind. But now the short-term objectives are our goal, I think that this project will be very large, first taking small steps. Small steps such as raising awareness, building the reputation of the game and what more, interest from players. These small steps are developing very rapidly and we have already seen the players and the passion with which participate in the game and that is great to see, it is very encouraging.
5. We know that you have made your first clinic in Spain and have already seen your first match between the Valencia Selection and Ciencias Rugby Valencia, what do you think of the Spanish players?
The first training session was great, I really liked the look of the players and I was impressed with their talent in the rough, some showed really good skills in what we did. They are very passionate and have a great enthusiasm for the game. I think that they will be fantastic rugby league players.
6. The Rugby League has experienced extraordinary growth across Europe in the last decade; Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden… and now, although a little later, Spain can be about the level of these countries in the medium term?
We can definitely compete in Europe, especially with some of the newcomers like Hungary and Portugal. I feel that we have the advantage that players already have a wealth of experience in the union code, so understand the basic skills like the wrestle, passes and defence / attack strategies. There is a small difference with the Spanish rugby league like with the melee or play the ball, but is nothing that cannot be corrected.
7. We know it there are many selectable players in France, young and at a great level (Elite 1 and Elite 2), which have expressed their desire to compete with their country of origin will some be considered for the possible selection?
We know that there are a significant number of players from England and France with Spanish origin, who have shown interest in joining us. I think it is very good to have this but we want to focus on the development of the players we have in Spain, which is the priority. Of course, this would be a great way to reinforce our selection in the future, but we are committed to the construction of the Rugby league competition here and to use existing resources.
8. How could influence the entry of these great players in the internal development of the XIII national team?
It’s great to see that the renowned players are showing interest in the national team. But we need them to be visible to the players that we have in development, their experience may be essential to help raise awareness about the game and also for the construction of this project.
9. They are shuffling some dates like June or July for the debut of the Spanish team, who would be the first opponent of Spain in that test match?
We are currently in talks regarding our first international match at home. We have had a number of offers from teams who want to play against us and that is due to the good work and the affection with which the Spanish project in the international community has been received. As soon as we have the details we will make them public.
10. Many eyes are on the Spanish Rugby League project at national and international level, how valued is the work that is being performed from the AER League?
The AER League is building a magnificent project. I am really very happy to be part of this project. It is very exciting to see their work and the possibilities for growth being considered.
I am really passionate in getting interest in rugby league and I want to pass it on to all of Spain. Our focus on the development of the game will be the driving force for the support and interest of those who now look to us. I believe that the national team will have great success in the game and turn the hearts of the people of rugby when they see what we have achieved.
11. Some teams competing in Rugby Union are interested in participating in Rugby League after the Rugby Union competition to have Rugby throughout the year, do you as the Spanish coach want this possibility?
The Valencian clubs that play to the union code have shown great interest with the Liga. That’s great for the players and their growth, since it allows them to be playing rugby throughout the year. I would like for each club and player to participate in Rugby League, but I understand that this is a young project and will take time.
12. We know of the total support that the RLEF has given to this project and the great reception given in Europe how can you influence this supports in the development of Rugby League in Spain?
Mira, Spain is the only large European country that does not have Rugby League. Rugby is not very developed here and I do not understand why, the Spanish players are good and passionate. All countries of their environment practice Rugby league, even Morocco; Malta, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium… let alone France or Italy. I believe that to Spain the development of Rugby league will come well and for this purpose the RLEF support is essential.
13. And finally what would a kid need to do to play League for the first time?
For anyone wanting to play rugby league for the first time, my advice would be just; enjoy the game, enjoy what it brings with it. I usually say this in England. Rugby league is not just a game, is a way of life; something which now is also shared with Spain.
My advice is simple: enjoy the game and what it brings.
Good luck Mr Fisher on their new project in Spain, and thank you very much for attending our questions and for having accepted the first exclusive interview in Spain of our house, the Balon Oval.
Darren: Thank you for taking the time to interview me and for supporting the development of Rugby League in Spain, sincerely; Thank you.