The Malta Rugby League (MRL) was granted Affiliate Membership of the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) after applying in early November.
A 99-page application was submitted to the RLEF board of directors and sees the MRL’s membership raised from Observer to Affiliate with Malta becoming the smallest RLEF Affiliate Member, overtaking Norway whose population is 11 times greater.
MRL National Development Manager and national team coach Anthony Micallef said membership would serve as recognition to all that have supported the cause of developing and promoting Rugby League in Malta.
“The MRL’s application is a credit to the players, administrators, followers and corporate partners behind the Malta Rugby League” said Micallef.
“Our organisation isn’t simply made up of players who go out on a Saturday and Sunday to play the game they love, but a lot more than that and we have players across the leagues of Malta, Australia, the UK, the USA and others to name but a few”
“I would also like to single out David Axisa who heads up our Maltese Heritage Rugby League administration in Australia for working tirelessly in putting together the application”
RLEF general manager Danny Kazandjian said of the MRL’s application, “The Malta Rugby League put forward an exemplary portfolio and are to be congratulated on the professionalism and thoroughness of the application”
Malta’s national team is ranked 22nd in the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) world rankings and 14th out of 27 in the European rankings.
Storm twin with Malta Rugby League
Gateshead Storm and the Malta Rugby League (MRL) have entered into a twinning partnership which will commence ahead of the 2014 season.
The Malta Rugby League (MRL) and Gateshead Storm are committing to further develop the strong links that already exist between RFL North-East and rugby league in Malta and Gozo.
Storm head coach Chris Parker and utility Paul Parkinson are both Malta internationals while ex-Storm head coach and former Gateshead Thunder prop Gareth Barron recently signed for Maltese championship club, Malta Origin RL.
The partnership will offer both parties the opportunity to exchange players with Maltese based players able to come across to the UK to enhance their rugby league experience, while Gateshead players will be able to go across to Malta to help develop the game with domestic players and coaches.
Gateshead head coach Chris Parker commented “It’s great that my community club is able to link up with our (Malta) national side, hopefully we will be able to help with the work the MRL are doing in Malta to develop the game while giving players on both sides a chance to gain more experience in different environments”
MRL National Development Manager Anthony Micallef welcomed the ratifying of a continuation of the link between Malta and the North East.
Micallef said “There is a special connection with the game in Malta and the North East region of the UK similar to the one we have with the Western Sydney region in Australia”
“It is welcome news that beyond the twinning, Gateshead Storm’s playing kit will also have the MRL logo on it. This will generate discussion and further leverage for the MRL brand further to the connection we hold with the region already”
The MRL logo will feature on the arm of the Gateshead Storm playing shirt for all fixtures in the 2014 RFL North East League.
Previous connections between the MRL and RFL North East have included:
* Malta internationals Luke Branighan, Roderick Attard and captains Ben Sammut and Chris Parker have all played with Gateshead Thunder
* Malta internationals including Paul Parkinson have been selected from the RFL North East amateur league
* Former Gateshead Thunder prop Gareth Barron became the first marquee player signing for the MRL Championship when he signed with Malta Origin RL in 2013
* Gateshead Storm U14’s took part in 2013 MRL Pink Week
* Malta’s first professional player Roderick Attard debuted with Gateshead Thunder in 2010
* RFL North East and MRL officially twinned in 2009
* Gateshead Thunder U18’s toured Malta in 2009