The Italia Rugby Football League began with a bang similar to an Independence Day fireworks event as the public announcement was officially published on July 4th – with the formation of this Rugby League Federation in Italy, hence the ITALIA RFL and the pathway for growth set.

The Campionato Italia Rugby League (iRFLeague) brought our code – Rugby a XIII to Central and Southern Italy for the very first time, involving teams from Roma, Tuscany (Florence) and Sicily (Catania). The creation of strict Rugby a XIII teams had been produced – seeing Gladiators Roma Rugby League, Magnifici Firenze Rugby XIII and (Spes) Spartans Catania Rugby XIII. With the fourth team being invited in the latter stages due to certain circumstances and very willing to take part in the rebirth of Rugby a XIII, which was a Serie C (amateur) Rugby club formed in 1980 known as Arvalia Villa Pamphili Rugby Roma’.

The iRFLeague was formed through the divide of an inaugural Italian (exhibition style) League with only 3 rounds allocated for the Northern and Central-Southern Conferences by the FIRL Federation, which teams were unhappy with. The majority of the stronger teams (together with 2 former members of the FIRL) quickly disagreed with the management behind it through many major and minor reasons, which than soon began the initial formation of the Italia Rugby Football League.

Despite disruptions – the ITALIA RFL were able to effectively organise the historic Television Coverage through a number of National and Local TV Companies for the iRFLeague Championship Grand Final in July. A huge outcome for a new or developing Rugby League Federation anywhere that helps spread the game of Rugby League and an awareness of the game.

Championship (Campionato) Overview:

The first round saw the momentous debut of Rugby League into the Central and South of Italy with the Magnifici Firenze Rugby XIII playing the Spes Spartans Catania XIII on Saturday 19th June 2010 (when Rugby League was strong in the 50s and 60s it was only in the North until the game was lost, until now!). The match was played in Florence at ‘Padovani’ – the home ground of the ‘Magnifici’ (Magnificants) with the home side earning victory against the travelling Spartans from Sicily – 28 to 16. The attendance was close to 300 interested new supporters.

The second round set the scene with the historic first match for a team representing Rome. The Gladiators Roma were ready to play their debut match at their home ground ‘Campo dell’Unione’ – against the Magnifici Firenze Rugby XIII on 26 June. The result showed the added benefit of having experience with the ‘new sport’ with Pierluigi Gentile guiding his new players – the Gladiators Captain/Coach who has played in the top Union Competition, but represented Italy for Rugby League previously. However Magnifici possess a Coach and Manager who has strong experience and contacts in Rugby also, currently playing for Aironi (a top Italian franchise). Gladiators won over Magnifici 58-22.

The third round of the iRFLeague installed a Sicily and Roma rivalry at the Spartans Catania home field (Campo Cittadella Universitaria), however it was not to be for Spes Spartans as they lost 38 to nil against a sharp Gladiators outfit, who sealed an iRFL Grand Final birth in their home city of Roma. The result set an iRFLeague Gran-Finale battle between Gladiators Roma XIII and Magnifici Firence XIII in 2 weeks in Rome. A pre-Grand Final match was played with Arvalia Villa Pamphili Roma and Spes Spartans Catania XIII.


The Gran-Finale Day was played on July 18 at Campo dell’Unione Capitolina in Rome – with a modern Roman battle set in the form of Gladiators Roma XIII and Magnifici Firenze XIII – with the winner being crowned Campioni Italia (iRFLeague Champions) and the ‘curtainraiser’ was between the newly invited Arvalia Villa Pamphili Roma Rugby and Spes Spartans Catania XIII for the right of 3rd place. Admission for the match was free to ensure a better attendance, however the end crowd was affected by scorching and abnormal European temperatures upward to 40*C in Rome!

The Spes Spartans Catania fielded a determined team against debutants Arvalia Villa Pamphili Rugby Roma that was were motivated to earn third place in the ‘iRFLeague Championship’ and managed to control most of the match. But Villa Pamphili earned respect to fight back late in the match. The final result was 42 – 14 to Spes Spartans Catania.

Just before the Grand Final kick-off – the Italia RFL had a minute silence in memory of Mr Giorgio de Angelis who was a man of any Rugby and Namau founder (died March 26), Namau is a kind sponsor of the Gladiators.

The Grand Final match was a tight tussle with the score at half time 16 to 10 for Gladiators. After the break through the leadership of captain Pierluigi the Romans showed good attacking displays to increase their lead, until the Ferraro coached Magnifici increased their determination and grit to score two tries in 5 minutes – locking up the scores at 22-22 with 15 minutes to go. The teams than reach boiling point minds began to heat up and ignite Italian fire, outcome was a temporary sin-binning on a Gladiators player and 5 minutes later a Magnifici player receiving a sin-bin. The match was heading into a MAGNIFICO ending, until Gladiators scored with 5 minutes left and 1 minute to go. The final result was 36-22, but a close and exciting match to show the attendance and beneficial for the live and delayed TV Coverage set for the Italia RFL.

The coaches were reported with these statements made:

Magnifici Firenze, Coach-President – Luigi Ferraro – “We did very well in terms of attitude, we didn’t let go until the end when we stayed with a man short for a yellow on our Captain Mafara. Also from the physical point of view we have held up well in the impact of the eighty minutes and one to one in both attack and defense we were able to keep up and sometimes exceed the gladiators though many of them play all season with more technical and athletic than ours. As a coach I am very satisfied with the evidence of all the guys, nobody has pulled back and put all that extra that was missing in the first ever trip to Rome with the Gladiators, and there has allowed to remain always in the game, we even passed the first lead and 15 minutes from the end we lost by 24-22.”

Gladiators Roma, Captain-Coach – Pierluigi Gentile “I am very pleased with our performance and how we played throughout the league. The Magnifici in just a few weeks have been able to improve so much and this does nothing but increase in me esteem for my fellow players, despite the resistance of opponents to hold on and take home the match. Now that the door is open, we hope to continue and develop this version of Rugby.”

The first championship cup of iRFLeague was delivered by Mrs de Angelis for the Gladiators, while a special award was presented to Mafara Simone for his playing closure “as a thirteen” after his long Rugby career.

iRFLeague Gran-Finale Day TV Coverage:

Historic live and delayed TV coverage for both of the Rugby League matches were invested in (despite barriers) and achieved by the Italia RFL that consisted of a number of local digital TV channels, including t9, teleroma56, supernova, Canale Zero, Telepontina and National Companies, which included Sport Italia and Sky Italia (highlights shown at later dates and interviews). The popular ‘Sport Italia 2’ showed highlights (coverage) on Sept 16 at 11.30pm for National TV Coverage.

The delayed (Rome Local) TV coverage was shown between the 1st and 14th of August with a series of broadcasted sessions of the iRFL Championship Grand Final between Gladiators and Magnifici. The TV coverage dates were set for 9pm Monday on Supernova, Wednesday 9pm Supernova, Friday 10pm on Canale Zero, Thursday 10.30pm on Telepontina and Sunday 3pm Telepontina.

Four Nations TV Coverage:

Another exciting move for TV coverage was the 2010 Four Nations Rugby League tournament being picked up in an arrangement with EUROSPORT 2 for not only Italy, but other countries in their network, including the likes of Germany and Spain (original press release on RLIS). This further benefited the IRFL cause by deliverering steady exsposure, promotion and knowledge of Rugby League in the country, while again spreading the game into the Italian Population.

Youtube Highlights:

Round 2 – Gladiators Roma Vs Magnifici Firenze

Round 3 -Gladiators Roma Vs Spartans Catania

The Italia Rugby Football League (IRFL) want to again thank everyone who was involved and committed to our cause of Rugby a XII. The players, technicians, medical staff, spectators, the RU clubs for allowing all players, blogs, all Italian and Rugby League media, sponsors and fans that gave us visibility and support this year! The doubters will be proven wrong in 2011 as planning has been well underway since August.

We are looking for even more Team Sponsors, but also new Federation sponsors for 2011, in particular jersey provider / sponsor – see this link for details.

Our new Website will be online soon at the current location –

Please join our Facebook and also Twitter pages.

Have a Happy New Years – Thank you – Regards the Italia Rugby Football League

By ricky

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