Malta to face Greece and Czech Republic

Monday, March 3, 2014, 12:12

Malta will open 2014 European Championship C against Greece in June before traveling to Havlichkuv Brod to tackle the Czech Republic, the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) has announced.

The announcement was made as the RLEF introduced European Championship branding to its three-tiers of official competition, aligning the organisation with the majority of European sports.

The European Cup will now be known as the European Championship, while the Shield and Bowl are replaced by European Championship B and European Championship C. The latter two competitions are already linked and the RLEF is planning for all competitions to have a connecting relationship of some degree, pending confirmation of the Rugby League International Federation’s multi-year calendar.

For the Maltese, it will be a return to European competition after a quiet 2013, their last competitive fixture was a 74-12 drubbing of Denmark in Copenhagen which saw the 22-in-the-world ranked Malta win the Dove Men+Care International Series in September 2012.

The Maltese are expected to be strengthened in the coming years approaching the 2017 Rugby League World Cup following the emergence of a number of players into the sport’s highest stage, Australia’s NRL and England’s Super League.

In Super League, Malta born international Jonathan Magrin has been put on standby by coach Tony Rea to debut in the London Broncos’ first team. In Australia, Jake Mamo and Andrew Heffernan, both eligible to represent Malta through their grandparents, have debuted with the Newcastle Knights and the Canberra Raiders respectively in recent weeks.

Malta halfback Jarrod Sammut is also a regular star in the English Super League and Danny Galea is starting with Widnes Vikings after moving from Australian club Canterbury Bulldogs over the off-season.

Across in Italy, the FIRL has paid tribute to the work done by head coach Carlo Napolitano who has stood down from the national role after leading the Azzurri in their inaugural 2013 Rugby League World Cup campaign.

“Rarely in life do you meet people of the calibre of Carlo Napolitano” said Italian Rugby League President Orazio D’Arro, D’Arro.

“From 2008 he has dedicated a large portion of his life to the development of rugby league in Italy, often without due reward. During this period Carlo has made a major contribution to the on-field success but most importantly he has provided support and contribution to the establishment of the constitution and operational structures of F.I.R.L.”

The Malta Rugby League (MRL) will welcome two touring English teams in order to help prepare Malta coach Anthony Micallef’s locally based Malta national team players prepare for selection in the summer internationals. In May, the West Yorkshire Police team will visit Malta before a BARLA representative team tours in June.

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