The Malta Rugby League Association, whose domestic season has just kicked off, has announced five internationals to take place later this year in both the northern and southern hemisphere.
Malta men will travel to Montenegro on Saturday 16 September 2023, reciprocating 2022’s fixture which saw Montenegro make their international debut. The following week, the men will host Bulgaria in Marsa, also the reverse of a fixture played in Sofia in 2022
The action then switches to the Southern Hemisphere where Malta men will take on Chille on Saturday 21 October at Forshaw Park, ahead of both the Maltese men and women coming up against Philippines in a double header on Saturday 28 October at Cabramatta Stadium in Sydney.
“We’re excited for our upcoming national team games,” noted Jean Pierre Zarb, Malta Rugby League president and prop in the men’s side. “Last year we won both of our European based home and away internationals and we’re pushing for the same results this year. Our domestic players have been working hard during the summer and are eager to be selected.”
An organisational restructure has seen Englishman Philip Humphrey work closer with the national squad, and with former player and head coach Roderick Attard still involved it bodes well for a strong campaign.
Team manager, Anthony Micallef, noted: “We go to Montenegro expecting them to be improved and stronger on home soil that last year’s game. We’re equally excited to welcome Bulgaria to Malta having travelled there last year and being made to feel very welcome.
“International relations between Malta, Montenegro and Bulgaria have been assisted by rugby league administrative stalwart Zeljko Delic who has acted as a conduit to make things happen, and we are very grateful to him for his support in organising the fixtures again this year.”
“Montenegro Rugby League is looking forward to the arrival of the Malta team and are eagerly awaiting the chance to compete for the Medieval Shield once more,” said head coach Ian Giddings. “We have a few additional players this year that are eager to represent their country in the first ever rugby league international to played on Montenegrin soil. It will be a special day.”
Igor Adziap, Montenegro RL president, noted: “The match is of great importance for the Montenegrin rugby league community and its further development. We are expecting a real rugby spectacle, full stands and a great atmosphere. I believe that this will be an indicator of where we are at the moment and how much we have progressed, especially having two clubs competing in the Balkan Super League.”