The Rugby League European Federation has unveiled the competitive representative structure for the summer of 2010.
International fixtures will be played at four levels, involving more nations, with a focus for activity being on preparation for the World Cup, to be held in the UK in 2013.
Underpinning the rugbyleague.com European Championship – which will be held predominantly in France, who have negotiated the broadcast rights, and will feature Ireland, Scotland and Wales with the winners winning a place in the 2011 Four Nations Tournament – there will be an expanded European Shield, a European Bowl and a new Middle East and North Africa Championship.
The European Shield will feature six nations in two groups spilt West and East with Germany, Serbia and the Czech Republic contesting the former and Russia, Ukraine and Latvia the latter.
In the European Bowl, Malta, Norway and Belgium will go head to head while the MENA Championship scheduled for Dubai in October, which will build on the success of the recent under 16’s tournament and a 9’s competition for under 14’s scheduled for Lebanon in April, could feature four nations.
Fixture dates for the three strata should be confirmed by mid-April.
In addition, Italy – who are concentrating on setting up a six team domestic structure – will play USA in a one-off home international on 4th July and Germany will face Holland on 18th June in Heidelberg, the night before their annual invitation international 9’s and will send a University side to Catalonia on 21st July.
In response to the continued growth of the sport outside of the European framework, the RLEF will continue to take the lead for all development activity in the Northern hemisphere.