By Phil Caplan, Date: 2/12/12
The 2013 Rugby League European Bowl will feature the Czech Republic, Norway and Ukraine with the biggest ever prize attached for the victors. The winning nation will be promoted to the 2014-15 European Shield.
Played annually since 2008, the Bowl reverts back to the triangular format used in 2009, when Ukraine won on their only appearance. They open proceedings on 6th July at home to Norway.
â€œThe Bowl will be the first official European championship since rugby league became an accredited sport in Ukraine,â€ said national team coach Artur Martyrosyan. â€œThis means that our team has an even greater responsibility; besides the commitment to our fans we have the expectations entrusted to us by the stateâ€™s administrative resources.â€
The Czech Republic have won the Bowl for the last two years, beating Hungary XIII both times, while Norway lost to Malta in 2010 on their debut in official RLEF competition. All three countries see the tournament as a key part of their progression and a chance to test each other against previously unknown opponents.
Warren Heilig, the head of Norwegian rugby league, is equally focused. â€œRugby League Norge is enormously proud to take part in the 2013 European Bowl. We know the step up in class will be a tough assignment for our boys but that the guys will rise to the occasion. It would be an unbelievable feat to make the European Shield.â€
The Norwegians play two games on successive weekends, while the Czech defending champions complete the fixtures hosting Ukraine in late September.
“The CZRLA is greatly looking forward to defending the European Bowl against very strong opposition in 2013,â€ noted head coach Andy Mulhall. â€œThis provides a great opportunity for our national team players to measure their development and experience a higher level of competition then they have previously been exposed to. Next season will see an expansion once again in Czech domestic Rugby League participation and activity and the incentive of playing in the Bowl for our top stars is a big one.â€
GAME 1 â€“ 6 JULY 2013
UKRAINE v NORWAY, Dinamo Stadium, Kharkov, Ukraine
GAME 2 â€“ 13 JULY 2013
NORWAY v CZECH REPUBLIC, Bislett Stadium, Oslo, Norway
GAME 3 â€“ 29 SEPTEMBER 2013
CZECH REPUBLIC V UKRAINE, Municipal Stadium, Vrchlabi, Czech Republic