The Czech Republic, Germany and Norway have all been admitted as Affiliate Members of the RLEF, with Denmark been granted Observer status.
Chairman Richard Lewis commented, “This confirmation represents a mark of the sport’s deepening spread in Continental Europe. National governing bodies have responded well to the Federation’s focus on good governance and I’m pleased to say that there is a sincere commitment from our member organizations to strengthen off the field as well as on.”
The Czech Rugby League Association was formed in 2005 but last year overhauled its structure almost entirely, adopting a new constitution and voting in a new eight-man board.
This year has seen the Czech national competition played over more rounds than ever before, with the strategy of basing growth around community clubs showing signs of success. For the first time the CZRLA has taken the sport into schools, with four junior clubs formed and plans for a junior competition in 2012.
“This is an important milestone for Czech rugby league,” said CZRLA president John Anderson.
“To have achieved this status in six years, after such humble beginnings, is a fitting testament to all the hard work and commitment from all those involved with the CZRLA, both past and present. It’s also a significant marker for the future of our game here, and will give us the impetus to consolidate and see the game expand throughout the country.”
Rugby League Deutschland has been an Observer of the RLEF since 2007, with 2011 seeing considerable changes on the structural and administrative front.
Since a new Board was elected at RLD’s AGM in February, the governing body has achieved eingetragener verein or e.v. status, meaning it is now registered under German law. This has been done simultaneously with an application for full federation or verband status, which is nearing its conclusion.
RLD’s focus for 2012 is embedding the Bundesliga, lengthening the competition rounds. “To become an Affiliate Member of the RLEF is a big achievement for our country and especially for our organization,” said RLD president Maximilian Schoengen, “and takes rugby league in Germany and its development one step further. We are looking into a future full of opportunities and taking the right steps in order to make use of these opportunities. Being accepted as a Member proves the strategy RLD is following is the right one.”
The youngest of the new Members, Rugby League Norge, has witnessed remarkable growth in its barely two-year existence. Having played a five-team YIT Premiership club competition this year, RLN now has no less than 12 clubs in its sphere and is planning to restructure the competition into divisions to accommodate expansion.
This year rugby league was shown in Norway on satellite and terrestrial television, with RLN hosting its own show.
RLN president Warren Heilig is confident of a significant boost in membership numbers in 2012.
“Obtaining Affiliate Membership is an evolution,” he said. “It’s the next step for us in trying to get better as a nation and an organisation. Our plans to increase participation numbers in 2012 are well on track.”
The Dansk Rugby League Forbund held its first formal AGM in October, electing Rune T. Nordvang as president. Nordvang noted the massive potential for growth in the northern European country and is confident of overseeing expansion at a rapid rate.