League meets Union
The first steps for rugby league to be played in Portugal were taken when PRLA president, Mal Speers, met with senior rugby union officials from Portugal.
Rugby Union is played in Portugal and their national team was in Australia to compete in the IRB World Sevens series in Adelaide.
Speers (pictured in middle) met with rugby union coach, Tomaz Morias (blue shirt) and team manager, Francisco Martins.
It was more an informal chat than a meeting, but I went away with the belief that rugby league and rugby union can co-exist in Portugal”, said Speers.
The rugby league competition would be played during the union off-season, with June the most likely month for rugby league to be played. The plan is for the rugby league and rugby union to work together. Having both codes played in Portugal can result in the dual international status for some players.
Tomaz has indicated he would prepare a team to play rugby league to play the Australian based team when they touch down in Portugal.
“You feel more comfortable in making decisions when you know you have the support of others. I have that with the rugby union in Portugal”, commented Speers.
While Speers’ venture is still a few years away, he is working hard on promoting the Portuguese Rugby League to potential sponsors for financial support in both Australia and Portugal.
“There is plenty of work to be done but I’m confident rugby league will be played in Portugal in the not to distant future” said Speers.
The Portuguese Rugby League would be looking at playing a rugby league tournament over a weekend in June prior to playing in the Italian Nines.
Currently, Portugal is a non active member of Rugby League European Federation (Rugby League European Federation).
“When we kick-off and establish rugby league in Portugal, our status with the RLEF will change to active member, enabling Portugal to play in the European Cup and qualifying tournaments for future Rugby League World Cups