By Joel Morgan, Date: 26/2/15
Officials labelled as “rebels” and “not in the best interests of rugby league” continue to prove their long-term commitment to rugby league and growing the ‘Greatest Game of All’ in Italy, as the Italian Cup (or Coppa Italia) for Central / North is launched under the ‘1st Open Day Rugby League’ event name and will see eight clubs participate across various categories, according to the FIRFL.
The event organised by the Federazione Italiana Rugby Football League (Firfl) will be staged at Libertas of San Piero at Pont Puma Bisenzio rugby, in Campi Bisenzio, near Florence will host the second regional stage of the 2015 Italian Cup. The Italian Cup this year is played under the rugby league 9’s format, which has meant more participants and a faster variant of the game.
The day will begin with rugby league played by u8 and u10s teams, including Puma (Bisenzio), Bucks and Florentia. Then an u18 rugby league match will see one of the biggest Italian rugby clubs, Firenze 1931 battle Florentia, which will include some players from Siena, Arezzo and Bucks di Val di Pesa rugby. The main category will see four teams contending for the opportunity to be present at the Italian Cup Final Four, including USAG Roma, Mantova (from the Lombardy region, including Milan), Sieci (based in Pontassieve, Tuscany) and Magnifici Firenze (a foundation FIRFL club). In a further sign of the FIRFL breaking boundaries with rugby union counterparts FIR, the event will be attended by FIR Tuscan committee President Riccardo Bonaccorsi, along with representatives of Campi Bisenzio (council) and the FIRFL itself, while lunch will include watching the Italian 6N’s clash.
Luigi Ferraro, FIRFL Vice President, professional rugby player with Italian champions Calvisano, Magnifici Firenze President and head of rugby league in Northern and Cntral Italy, alongside Beppe Moncada stated on the www.federleague.it website “The presence of Bonaccorsi is a further sign of this strong synergy that we create with rugby a 15, This Saturday will be an great event and we hope to organise other events of this type to always showcase this discipline more and more.” The FIRFL stated “Ferraro is a figure of great prestige for the Federleague, so much so that a few days ago, from the athletes Calvisano rugby union he had won the Italian Cup.”
This growth, among the previously announced Central Italian and soon to be announced Sicilian expansion, should be a wake-up call for the rugby league world and prove the FIRFL are committed to growing rugby league for the long term, especially since they were launched five years ago.
For mine, the RLWC was a wasted opportunity to grow and expose the game in Italy. There was big talk before the RLWC 2013 that this would be big for Italy, growing the game, putting it on the map and be a big opportunity. But, evidence is the official Italian body FIRL have decreased from 10 to 9 senior teams from 2013 to 2014, but some credit is they to increase their u18 competition from 3 to 6 teams from 2014 to 2015.
The growth is happening; it should simply be not ignored.