Preparations are in hand as the Czech Republic and Norway look to kick off the 2021WC Qualifiers in Vrchlabi, on 16 June.
The clash doubles as the opening tie in European Championship C – North, a group which also includes Germany. The winners will play the top team in the south – featuring Malta, Ukraine and Greece – for the right to appear in the final European WCQ tournament to be held in late 2019.
Lukas Hergott, president of CZRLA commented: “For us to be taking part in World Cup qualifying is a dream come true for all of us involved in Czech Rugby League. We are a grassroots organization who have had to grow the sport organically here with players new to all forms of rugby, so the feeling of pride in seeing our name in such games is massive and makes all the hard work worthwhile.
“We hope to use the publicity generated from this campaign to promote our sport in the Czech Republic to a much wider audience of potential players, sponsors and fans. It should also give us a boost in obtaining official recognition from the Czech Sports and Olympic Association.”
His national head coach, Ladislav Cintler, added: “The task ahead is daunting for us but the players are determined to show how the playing standard is improving year on year in the Czech Republic. The chance to play for their country in a World Cup campaign has focused our players into working harder than ever. Win, lose or draw I know that every player who pulls on a Czech jersey has given their all and made sacrifices to be in that position.”
His opposite number, Norway’s Dave Hunter echoed that sentiment. “In the last few years RLN has seen a real growth in playing numbers, in particular at U19 level,” he noted. “We are hoping that inclusion in the RLWC qualifiers will see that continue and that the added exposure will help us secure funding for the future.
“Playing the Czech Republic and Germany will be extremely hard but all the players, coaching staff and management are willing to put in everything to ensure everyone performs to their full potential over these two games at least. Our domestic competition kicked off in April and we have just had 40 plus players attend our first camp with the intention of impressing the coaching staff before our big game against the Czech Rep.
“We have selected a very strong squad which includes a mix of talented youngsters and experienced players.”