One of European rugby league’s leading administrators, Tiziano Franchino of the Federazione Italiana Rugby League, passed away over the weekend at the age of 44 from a suspected heart attack.
Franchini was present at the meeting in Paris in 2003 that founded the Rugby League European Federation, which became the ERL, and was on the governance committee that recently proposed significant changes to the board, which are currently being implemented.
He played in four senior internationals for Italy, making his debut in the 2008 European Shield against Germany and also faced the Czech Republic in that tournament, Lebanon in the 2009 European Cup, and was part of the Azzurri’s 2015 victory over Ukraine in Kyiv in Euro B.
Franchini was instrumental in the development of the women’s game in Italy, overseeing the establishment of the women’s national side and also representing ERL on the Women & Girls Advisory Group to International Rugby League.
ERL interim chair Graeme Thompson said: “This is devastating news, Tiziano was utterly committed to rugby league, not just in Italy where his presence was massive but in his work promoting the sport as a voluntary coach educator throughout Europe. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and FIRL at this desperate time.”
A strong advocate of technical education, Franchini was the first person to graduate as a European Rugby League level 2 coach, in December 2017. FIRL issued a statement noting: “This is a dark day, a pillar of the Italian movement has left us and with him a piece of history of Italian Rugby League dies.”
ERL regional director for Europe, Jovan Vujosevic, said in tribute: “This is incredibly sad news, we have known Tiziano for almost 20 years. He has left a major legacy in the European rugby league community helping to develop the sport across the region. Our sincere and most heartfelt condolences are sent all who knew him.”
Senior coach educator at the ERL, Martin Crick, added: “Tiziano was a gem of a man and tireless in his efforts to promote rugby league in Italy, often at considerable personal expense. Player, coach, referee, kitman, manager, tournament organizer, he did it all. He was great company and so passionate in his love of the sport.”