By Phil Caplan, Date:8/8/13

Russia have been awarded the 2012-3 Rugby League European Shield after their final game at home to Germany this weekend was called off, after a number of the opposition players failed to apply for their visas in time.

The Bears, who were overwhelming favourites to beat the bottom of the table Germans – who are now relegated to the European Bowl – needed a point to claim the crown.

They had won four of their five matches and have been awarded this tie 30-0 by the Rugby League European Federation Board.

The RLEF has also pledged to review the operations of RL Deutschland in view of the circumstances.

Newly appointed RLD President Benedikt Rehm commented, “Due to the fact that a number of German players were not able to get their visa issues sorted in time, and as four players’ passports were delayed by a courier on the way to the consulate in Berlin, Rugby League Deutschland has been forced to cancel the game against the Russians.”

“On behalf of RL Deutschland I’m extremely sorry that we were not able to arrange everything in time and make the game happen. Having learned from our mistakes we will restructure RLD for 2014, to ensure that situations like this do not happen again.

“I want to express our disappointment especially to the Russian Rugby League, which I know has put in a lot of effort towards hosting us,” he added.

RLEF General Manager Danny Kazandjian commented, “This is an extremely unfortunate – and avoidable – situation and I particularly regret that the ARLK has been denied the opportunity to play a valuable home game with the potential to receive the Shield in front of their loyal home supporters.

“It is certainly not the way anyone wanted what has been on the whole a thoroughly successful two-year tournament to end.

“For the first time in the competition’s history the RLEF provided specific pre-match funding and unfortunately RL Deutschland was unable to meet its obligations to the competition and its fellow participants.

Kazandjian continued, “The RLEF has been reviewing RL Deutschland for several months and we will work closely with Bene Rehm and the association’s leaders to ensure that the organisation begins to meet its potential.

“I congratulate Edgard Taturyan, the president of the ARLK, national team coach Eduard Ososkov, his captain Alex Lysokon and their squad for what has been a very successful two years for Russia, culminating in a worthy triumph in the European Shield.”