Russia Rugby League
Russia Rugby League

By Phil Caplan, Date: 12/2/14

Long-serving rugby league official and the founder of the game in Russia, Edgard Taturyan has stepped down from the presidency of the Russian Association of Rugby League Clubs (ARLK), ending an unbroken association with the sport dating back to 1989. 

“Even under such [difficult] circumstances we were able to become a Full Member of the RLEF and RLIF, lead Russia to the 2012-13 European Shield title and re-introduce the Russian championship [including the north and south regions] last year.,” said Taturyan, who turned 75 last year.

“It was a pleasure working with the RLEF these past few years…now the time has come to depart and give the rest of the gang the chance to keep the rugby league ball rolling in Russia. Team work is essential: it gives the enemy someone else to shoot at!”

Taturyan was a former USSR head coach in both rugby union and league and was the founding president of the USSR League Rugby-13 federation, the precursor to the Russian Rugby League Federation. 

When that governing body began to disintegrate in 2005 following a struggle between two factions, Taturyan was instrumental in founding the ARLK in 2008 and was able to steer rugby league through some troubled waters to the position of comparative stability it enjoys today.

“Edgard has always been a loyal rugby league man,” commented RLEF General Manager Danny Kazandjian. “It is difficult to overstate the rescue mission he managed when the sport was imploding a few years ago. With the loss of government accreditation came the loss of sponsors and without Edgard’s strong leadership, love for and loyalty to rugby league it is questionable whether there would still be a sport in the country. 

“Now he leaves a young group of leaders equally committed in his vein, and keen to work on the new phase of re-establishing rugby league as a strong sport in Russia.”

The post-Taturyan era began with an assembly on 8 February in Moscow where a series of measures were adopted, including the crucial reformation of the assembly to comprise regional federations, a new board structure and departmental remits. Elections for a new president will take place on 19 February.