Date: 28/11/15

As a result of the recently completed, 18-month, Leadership Devolution Project, 31 technical educators have been qualified and 224 new Level 1 coaches and match officials are now supporting the continuing growth of rugby league in Europe.

The scheme, part-funded by the European Commission who granted €195.000 – the remainder coming from the Rugby League International Federation – included 17 partner countries.

Five Full Members – England (RFL), France (FFRXIII), Ireland (RLI), Scotland (SRL) and Wales (WRL) – assumed roles as ‘senior leaders’ of five regional clusters. They oversaw the work of and mentored five RLEF ‘leader’ graduates from the complementary Governance Foundation Project (2012-13) – Netherlands (NRLB), Germany (RLD), Latvia (LRL), Czech Republic (CZRLA) and Italy (FIRL) – who in turn acted as mentors to a tranche of ‘learner’ nations – Poland (PRXIII), Belgium (BRLA), Malta (MRL), Denmark (DRLF), Hungary (HRLF), Sweden (SWRL) and Greece (HFRL).

“The project saw 33 activities run in Europe,” said RLEF General Manager Danny Kazandjian. “This was a significantly higher than scheduled in the original application accepted by the commission in October 2013. The RLEF has always tried to ensure that the joint funding has the greatest possible impact and now the emphasis is on consolidating our position by implementing robust mentoring relationships and continuing development pathways, to support high quality growth throughout Europe.”

Each leader and learner was given the opportunity to host technical activities in their countries from January 2014 to June 2015, attended by RLEF and senior leader officials who provided expert guidance, quality control and assessment.

The senior leaders hosted governance activities, supported by their National Sports Authorities – sportscotland, the French Ministry of Youth and Sport, Sport England, Sport Wales and the Irish Sports Council.

“One of the big problems any fairly young sport governing body faces is retaining, nurturing and incentivising key personnel,” continued Kazandjian. “We have seen people who began training with the RLEF in 2011 gradually assume greater responsibility and achieve greater competency in their chosen field. These individuals are now licensed and capable to deliver courses throughout Europe, thereby contributing to the sport’s strategic growth.

“We will see direct results of this Leadership Devolution Project for years to come but already there are clear indicators. Among them, a Belgium club competition launched in November, an increase in the number of Polish rugby league clubs – putting them in a position to apply for government recognition, and the possibility of extending rugby league into Sicily.”