Category Archives: ESL/International RL

Padova Rugby League prepare for 2012 r-Evolution League in Italy

In 2011, the Padova Jaguars debuted in the second r-Evolution League (Italian Rugby League Championship) under the FIRFL, but the name was made in haste and the group led by FIRFL Vice-President Matteo Visona has decided to rebrand the club with greater appeal and historical branding.

The new club brand will be officially labelled as “NOVA Gorena Padova RLFC” (NEW Padova Gorena) as Matteo Visona explains “The incipit that I chose has its roots from the 1960’s, at the time of the first wave of Italian Rugby League. In the Northeast there were twenty three teams only to the Padova region. One of these was the Gorena Padova, victorious twice at the end of the championship (before rugby league’s near 50 year hiatus) and had several good players within club. Our little secret is the son of one of them.”

Mr Visona suggests that the 60’s Gorena was named after their sponsor, a textile company now closed, but produced shirts for the sports person and the new brand in 2012 is a bridge between the past and present, with Gorena being the last successful club in the first Italian RL era when the game was known as Gioco di 13.

Gorena will hold their season launch on Saturday May 19 from 4pm at their partner club ‘House del Valsugana’. The club will have the presentation of their team, and discuss rugby a 13, history and dine. The club is proud to unveil that two original Gorena XIII players from the successful side of 1960 will be there, among other things to present one of three ‘padovani badges’ and discuss rugby league.

The off-field staff will be led by Tairo Trento and Chicco Prosdocimi who will begin training on May 14 twice a week for two weeks, than have 2 scheduled “Rugby League Nines” internal match until the season at Valsugana for an development initiative and put to practice what they have learnt. The club members are also helping to increase the players knowledge and awareness through the use of NRL and Super League DVDs and Highlights. Marzio Zanato (former Italia A RU and U21 coach will take a “behind the scenes” role).

Gorena Padova has released their first promotional video in the lead up to the third r-Evolution League that officially kicks off on June 2 – check it out at or like their Facebook page (Gorena RLFC).

More details for the Championship will be released soon by the FIRFL (Federazione Italiana Rugby Football League) with the new website in it’s final stages.

Luke Patten announces next career move

Luke Patten

Luke Patten, who is a fan favourite in both the NRL and ESL, after stints with the Illawarra Steelers, St George Illawarra Dragons and Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL, and Salford City Reds in the ESL – the man they call ‘The General’, has announced that he will become a player agent.

He will join Insight Sports as a player agent, upon the completion of the 2012 ESL season, with the veteran fullback pleased to continue his association with the game of rugby league.

“In the past few years, more and more colleagues were approaching me about advice with their career but also other elements of their lives” said Patten.

“Becoming a Player’s Agent is, I believe, a good way for me to give back to the game.”

“Chris (Fellas) and I have known each other for a long time and I was excited when he spoke to me about his intention to launch a company which combines Athlete Management and Financial Services. There is a genuine need for such a service in the market place and not only for Rugby League but for pretty much every elite athlete” continued Patten.

“As soon as I decided to hang up my boots, I contacted Chris as I feel their offering is something I was missing when I played. I am thrilled to remain involved with the game but at the same time this is a major step in my life, so I know I will need to work hard and learn a lot.

I am very excited about returning home and starting my new career with Insight in November. Until then, I want to finish on a high here in the UK, with Salford City Reds, where the Club and the fans have been fantastic for the last two years” added Patten.

The CEO of Insight Sports, as well as an NRL agent Chris Fellas, said that the company is thrilled to have him on board.

“We could not have had a better candidate than Luke for this position” said Insight’s CEO and NRL Agent Chris Fellas.

“Luke is a very respected player both in Australia and the UK, I believe that his decision to stay involved in the game will only add to his fame.

We think Luke as a retiring player, understands the pressure of making the right choices, both on or off the field.
We are ecstatic to have him join us as soon as he has completed his season with Salford City Reds” continued Fellas.

Watts leaves Widnes for personal reasons

Anthony Watts

Just a week ago, he was rewarded with a new contract – but now, for Widnes Vikings utility Anthony Watts, the club has given him a release from his contract, with Watts citing personal reasons, as the reason behind his decision.

Watts, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury earlier this season, was given a new 1-year deal by the club – but the club today announced that they would grant Watts wishes, and release him from his contract.

Watts said: “I would like to thank Widnes Vikings for the opportunity but I need to return home for personal reasons.

“As I suggested recently, I genuinely believe the club will be a huge force within the next few years and go on to achieve great things in the game.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be a part of that but I hope the fans continue to show the passion and commitment that I have witnessed in my short time there and help steer this great club back in the right direction.

“I wish all concerned at Widnes Vikings well for the future.”

Growth for Italia RFL: Coppa Italia Finals, Women and Juniors

The Federazione Italiana Rugby Football League are proud to announce the second (annual) Coppa Italia di Rugby a XIII Finals on Sunday May 6th staged at campo tor tre teste in Rome from 11 to 5pm onward with the Mens competition being the main event, but not without some all new sub-categories!

The second tier (“Reserve Grade or Feeder Clubs”) event was unveiled along with the Summer Championship – the r-Evolution League at the FIRFL’s first Season Launch (national conference) that was held at the prestigious “red rooms” at CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) in Rome on April 28. President David Massitti, Vice President Matteo Visona, Secretary-General Pierluigi Gentile and national members Marco Parrello (Rex Albinea) and Luigi Ferraro, Captain-Coach of the Magnifici Firenze rugby a XIII franchise and former Italia RU A captain and Aironi RU player precided over the event with various media attending, including national television coverage through Sport Italia 24 – broadcast on their News Program the next afternoon.

Teams from all over Italy participated in the knockout stage for the Senior Mens competition with overall growth and expansion shown moving from 8 to 12 teams. Sides from Reggio Emilia in the north, Rome and Perugia in Central Italy (Lazio and Umbria) and Sicilia in the south with Albinea, Canolo 13, USAG (Arlecchini Gladiators), Lupi Frascati (the Wolves), Centurioni Roma, Portaportese Roma, Estruschi Perugia, Grifoni Perugia, Briganti Librino XIII, Rectores Belpasso, CUS Catania 13 and Messina XIII participating.

The Coppa Italia (Final Four) and Grand Final this weekend sees Albinea (Reggio Emilia), USAG from Rome (Harlequins-Gladiators – the first Italian dual code Super club), Portaportese Roma RL and Rectores Belpasso from Catania vying to be Cup Champions.

In an historic day for Rugby League, the Italia RFL will expand into new sub-categories by fielding the first ever Womens and Junior Rugby League matches in Italy; we hope a sign of continued growth and excitement for the future. A Rugby League Nines mini-tournament will be held with three womens teams to battle it out with CUS Roma, Red e Blu (Roma) and IUSM (Roma) to meet. Rugby League will make the transition from Seniors to Juniors (Youth) with an U16 match played between Lazio against a Selection.

Meanwhile, the third r-Evolution League (Campionato) will begin on May 26th with the Grand Final proposed for July 27.

An announcement will be published in coming weeks about the format, new franchise and the current members.
The conference ended with discussion about the relationship between the two Italian rugby league federations with the Italia RFL looking for “for an open dialogue towards a democratic and constructive cooperation for the development of rugby League in Italy” and the following statement made by Secretary-General Pierluigi Gentile “Our doors are always open, well, time will tell.”

Dureau signs extension with Catalans

Scott Dureau

He never really got the chance to showcase his talents for the Newcastle Knights in the NRL, but Scott Dureau is reaping the benefits of consistent seasons for the Catalans Dragons – with the ESL side agreeing to a three-year contract extension, with the 25-year old half.

With big interest from rival side the Wigan Warriors, with the club losing Thomas Leuluai at season’s end, Dureau thought it best to put an end to all of the speculation – which is exactly what he did.

“The club is going forward, going better and better, and has improved a lot over the last two years,” he said.

“I’m very happy to stay at the Dragons. I feel good here both on and off the field.”

Dragons coach Trent Robinson sees the re-signing of Dureau has terrific news for the club moving forward.

“It’s great news for the club and also for Scott,” said Dragons coach Trent Robinson.

“Our improvement as a club has coincided with Scott’s development as a player along with others in the playing group.

“This is a strong sign for the future of the club with one of the best half-backs in Super League committed to the continued development of himself and his investment in the French culture and young players has been evident since his arrival at the club.

“He is a great example for the future youth in France.”

Catalans star to play for Union side

Setaimata Sa

Roosters fans will know him well, having seen him at their club first hand – and for former Rooster Setaimata Sa, who is now playing at Catalans in the ESL, a new challenge awaits him, after he agreed to a 3-year deal with Rugby Union side, London Irish.

Sa, 24, who is a New Zealand league international, also has 5 caps for Samoa – and will link up with the Aviva Premiership side, after he was lined up as the man to replace in the Exiles team, following the departure of Seilala Mapusua.

Having played Union and representing the New Zealand side as a young schoolboy, Sa is excited to have the opportunity to return to Union.

“I am really excited about joining London Irish.

“Returning to rugby union is something that I have been considering for a while. It has always been in my blood and testing my skills in the Aviva Premiership will be the ultimate challenge.

“The style of rugby that the Exiles play, and the family values of the club suit me and my family well.

“I am looking forward to getting down to it in the summer and I hope to be able to make an immediate positive impact.”

Brian Smith, the rugby director at the club was equally excited about the move, and believes that Sa will make a significant impact for the side.

“There is no doubt about it – Setaimata is an exciting and wonderfully skilful player and we are delighted that he will be joining the squad next season.

“I have followed his NRL and Super League career very closely, and he was coached at the Roosters by my good friend and current New South Wales State of Origin coach, Ricky Stuart.

“We have needed to replace Seilala Mapusua in midfield for some time now, and Sa fits the bill perfectly.

“He is an outstanding defender and a powerful runner with great physical and technical abilities.

“Still just 24 years old, he already brings with him a wealth of international and top-flight rugby experience, as well as winning a Rugby League World Cup for New Zealand. We think he is going to take the Aviva Premiership by storm.”

McKinnon leaves Hull

Wade McKinnon

He may have only been there for 6 months, but former Rabbitohs, Eels and Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon will leave his current ESL side Hull FC, and his 3-year contract with them – citing personal reasons as the decision behind the move.

McKinnon, 31, made the decision to seek a release from the club, after his family failed to settle in the East Yorkshire region – with McKinnon to return home to be with his family.

Shaun McRae, the Director of Rugby League at Hull FC, said:

“Wade has left the club to return to Australia and we thank him for his contribution to the team over the last six months.

“We wish him well upon his return home and in his future career.”

McKinnon had the following to say, about his time with Hull FC:

“I have really enjoyed playing with the team during my time in Hull and have made some really good friends here.

“I would like to wish them and the club the best of luck for the remainder of the season.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support at Hull FC during my time at the club, as well as Peter Gentle and Shaun McRae for their understanding of the situation and allowing me to return home.”

Italian RL media release

The Italia RFL will open its season on 28th of April at 3pm, presenting itself and its future development plans, at the prestigious Sala Rossa at CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) in Rome. 

On the occasion of its national congress, the Rugby a 13 Federation will illustrate the 2012 sport program, the Coppa Italia, and the R-Evolution League. It will be an opportunity to gather all the members in a moment of revival of our movement, presenting the achievements and future plans.

The Federation will approve some new board member positions and new clubs will enter into the family of Italia RFL, in another step forward toward the revival toward the 1960’s movement.

At the same time, it will be set a few bureaucratic steps that will change the legal position of the Federation, to take another small step towards professionalism.


Joel Morgan
International Referral
Italia Rugby Football League – IFRL

Former St George coach now at St Helens

During his tenure at the Dragons, he was a fan favourite, and he got along with the players. Now, former Dragons coach Nathan Brown has signed on to be the new coach of St Helens, for the next 3 years.

The deal will start next season, once his current contract with the Huddersfield Giants expires – with Eamonn McManus, the Saints Chairman saying:

We are extremely pleased that Nathan will be joining us next season. I believe he is ideally suited for the Saints both with regard to the way we want to play and as to what we aim to achieve in terms of success.

“He is still a relatively young coach but already has pedigree and experience gained over many years as a Head Coach at the highest levels both in the NRL and in Super League.”

Kieron Cunningham, who is the assistant coach at St Helens said:

We are extremely pleased that Nathan will be joining us next season. I believe he is ideally suited for the Saints both with regard to the way we want to play and as to what we aim to achieve in terms of success.

“He is still a relatively young coach but already has pedigree and experience gained over many years as a Head Coach at the highest levels both in the NRL and in Super League.”

The man himself is pleased to have the opportunity to work with St Helens, and looks forward to the challenges it will bring.

“It’s an honour to be appointed the Head Coach of St.Helens. They are a great and historic club and continuously associated with success; I’m relishing the challenge for next season onwards. They have a strong first team squad and more promising youngsters coming through their system, along with a great new stadium and training facility.

“That said, this season is all about Huddersfield Giants for me and it’s good to get this announcement out of the way so that I can concentrate totally on the job at hand.”

Wales announce France friendly

With the international presence in rugby league forever expanding, fans of international rugby league will receive a boost – with the Welsh national side announcing that they will play a friendly in June, against the French.

The match between the two semi-powerhouse nations, will take place at the Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium in Wrexham, on Saturday June 16 – which is the same day as England’s first game against the Exiles.

In an additional boost for the game itself, with no club matches scheduled for that particular weekend – it will allow both teams to field their strongest possible sides.

This particular international will be Wales first mid-season game in 11 years, and the first time they have played against France in an international, since October 2010.

“To be able to put on a mid-season Test shows a bit of progression to where we’ve come as we’ve not been in the position to do that in years gone by,” said Harris.

“Hopefully this will increase to two or three in years to follow.

“It’s going to be more difficult for us as there are a good number of our squad playing rugby league in Australia and we won’t be able to call on them for this match.

“But this means that a number of other players will get the opportunity to play and prove that they are good enough to be in the squad for the end of the year.

“It’s a progression game for us. Can we compete against a very strong French side with a couple of numbers down?

“It’s an important game for us to see where we’ve come as a squad. It will be an interesting game.”