The schedule has been finalised for this October’s Rugby League World Cup European Zone Qualifying fixtures, which will see one of the two remaining places filled for the 14 nation, 2013 global competition.
The winners of the four nation European Zone shoot out will join Scotland and Tonga in Group C of the main tournament, which will be staged in England and Wales as part of the ‘golden decade of sport.’
Each of Italy, Lebanon, Serbia and Russia will host a home game with the final round of matches taking place on the same afternoon in Belgrade, the host nation’s encounter with Russia also being for the Slavic Cup.
Mohamed Habbous, Lebanon RL Federation President commented, “We are very excited to participate in the 2013World Cup qualifiers. This is a big year for Lebanese Rugby League and we hope to finally get that world cup spot that we’ve been so eagerly waiting for. After coming so close before we feel that we are ready to take the stage with the other elite RL nations.”
His views were echoed by Tiziano Franchini, President of Italian governing body FIRL who noted, “Italy is very happy to be part of a tournament that will qualify the winner for the World Cup 2013. It is a pleasure to be involved in such prestigious games and our build up has already started.”
He added, “FIRL is keen to use world cup qualification as a tool to develop and increase the knowledge of rugby league in Italy.”
During the qualifiers, Italy will face Russia for the first time in international competition.
Lee Crooks, Serbian RL Federation Technical Director, knows how much the matches and the qualifier’s denouement in the county mean. “The European Zone Qualifiers are a huge incentive to the Serbian Rugby League community to show how much development has been undertaken by not only the massive volunteer personnel there but also the game in general.”
“It is a very tough qualifying group but we have the self belief that we can overcome the challenge ahead and show the rugby league world that the game in Serbia is getting stronger each year.”
Rugby League European Federation General Manager Danny Kazandjian believes that the autumn series, with so much at stake, will showcase the sport throughout the continent.
“The RLEF is seeing notable progress at all levels throughout its Membership,” he said. “To compliment this, the European zone qualifiers present an opportunity for one of the competing nations to take their organisation onto the next level and, with no discernible favourite, I look forward to an exciting October.”
2013 Rugby League World Cup European Zone Qualifiers
15/10/11: Italy v Russia (Padova)
16/10/11: Lebanon v Serbia (Tripoli)
22/10/11: Russia v Lebanon (Vereya)
23/10/11: Serbia v Italy (Belgrade)
29/10/11: Serbia v Russia [Slavic Cup] (Belgrade)
29/10/11: Italy v Lebanon (Belgrade)