They may not be countries that are considered rugby league heartland, and you may be confused that rugby league is played in these countries – but for Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Norway, this is a big deal, as they brace themselves for the 2013 European Bowl.
For these current minnow rugby league nations, a big reward is on offer for the winner – the opportunity to play on a bigger international stage in the 2014/15 European Shield.
With all three teams eager to take that next step, they will be bringing out all the big guns to play in the European Shield.
â€œThe Bowl will be the first official European championship since rugby league became an accredited sport in Ukraine,â€ said Ukranian 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 will be the ones with all the momentum, having won the bowl the last two seasons – both wins coming against Hungary.
“The CZRLA is greatly looking forward to defending the European Bowl against very strong opposition in 2013,â€ said Czech 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€
Head of Norwegian rugby league, Warren Heilig, says Norway will be focused and prepared to take the next step.
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,” said Heilig.
A total of three games will be played, to determine the eventual winner.
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