German Rugby League players show respect Simon Cooper

The Rugby League European Federation board has published its 2020 annual report, acknowledging that its members showed extreme fortitude and resilience during the effects of the pandemic and Covid-19 lockdowns.

ERL chair Maurice Watkins CBE says in his address to the report: “2020 presented several challenges that none of us expected or could have foreseen on how the effects the global pandemic would impact on international rugby league. Nonetheless we adapted and the game demonstrated the flexibility that it is known for.”

He added: “We also look forward to launching our new strategy later in 2021 after having had extensive consultation with the members.” ERL currently has 40 nations under its jurisdiction.

European Championships were due to be competed for at A, B, C and D levels for the first time but had to be cancelled and the report explains how the organisation’s efforts were instead focussed on supporting its members with a range of on-line initiatives.

Across Europe, Middle East & Africa and the Americas, this saw ERL staff working with them to upgrade their status and with new countries progressing their observer applications. Coach and match official development moved to virtual workshops to help maintain the ERL’s commitments to technical improvement and to ensure members could emerge from the pandemic in a position to restart and progress in a stronger position.

In Europe, the professional leagues in England and France were able to recommence later in the year and competitions in Ireland, Czechia, Poland, Serbia and Ukraine were also able to return, with Turkey managing to complete their season before lockdown restrictions were enforced.

Cameroon’s domestic competition was also able to run, demonstrating the sustainability that the game is building in the MEA region.

Also highlighted in the report are the extraordinary efforts that the federations of Netherlands and Germany went to in order stage the only senior international game to take place in the world, a tribute to the pioneering work of Simon Cooper who was instrumental to the birth of the sport in Germany, who sadly passed away earlier in 2020.  

The European Rugby League Annual Report 2020 can be read in full here: