Steve Georgallis, the coach of Greece, who will play in the final qualification stages for the RLIF Rugby League World Cup 2021 against Russia and Scotland, is frustrated by the bizarre circumstances that are hindering the planning of the home game against Scotland and consequently the preparation of the squad.
“It is very frustrating and something unfortunately we have become very accustomed to,” said Georgallis. “The main issue is logistics. We can’t plan ahead because we don’t know which city we will be playing in. Also, it’s difficult for family and friends who want to book travel to support the team.”
The Greek Rugby League Association (GRLA), who are recognised as the official national governing body for rugby league in Greece and are an affiliate member of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) are not recognised as the NGB by the Greek government. Due to local influence, a ‘rugby league committee’ has been placed within the Hellenic Federation for Modern Pentathlon (HFMP) by the government department responsible. The president of the HFMP, Tasos Pantazidis, is the former president of the disgraced Hellenic Rugby League, which was expelled from the RLIF for malpractice. The HFMP have actively disrupted legitimate games and activity in the past and the GRLA officials fear that staging a game against Scotland in Athens may lead to further legal problems and they are not prepared at this stage to take that risk.
Coach Georgallis is still preparing his team for the game in Russia and the “home” game against Scotland, wherever that may take place.
“I am confident that we will be very competitive. Scotland and Russia are quality sides who have reached this last stage with good performances and we will need to match their skill and aggressive qualities.
“Personally, it means everything to play this game in Athens. To be able to represent Greece on home soil in front of family, friends and supporters is the main reason anyone plays sport for their country.”
The RLIF has welcomed a statement from the Union International de Pentathon Moderne (UIPM), who are the international governing body for modern pentathlon, which clearly states that they have no interest in running rugby league or any other sport than their own.
“UIPM notes that it has again been drawn into a dispute relating to the sport of rugby league in Greece. Given that this is not the first time this has occurred, UIPM hereby reiterates that it is the world governing body of the Olympic sport of Modern Pentathlon and other multi-discipline sports (Tetrathlon, Triathle, Biathle, World Schools Biathlon and Laser Run). UIPM has never had nor will it have any interest in governing sports outside its jurisdiction.
The Hellenic Federation of Modern Pentathlon remains a member of UIPM and it is currently in good standing with UIPM.
UIPM will defend its name and reputation against anybody who implies that the Union is responsible for a dispute relating to a sport outside its jurisdiction, or for the resolution of any such dispute.”