Photo by Tariq Özen
Turkish Rugby League co-founder, coach and development officer, Julien Treu is understandably excited about the upcoming international tournament in Bodrum, a port city in the southwestern Aegean Region of Turkey.
The European D Championships feature the Czech Republic, Netherlands, Malta and hosts Turkey. The tournament will be played at the 4,500 capacity Municipal Ilce Stadi, with the semi finals on Thursday14 October and finals three days later.
“Hosting the European Championship in Bodrum is an enormous achievement for everyone involved in Turkish Rugby League: from volunteers to players in both Europe and Australia,” Treu told Everything Rugby League.
“I’d like to add that the work put in by current President of the Turkish Rugby League Association (TRLA), Gurol Yildiz, was a major factor for us in winning the tender, so a big thanks to him.
“This championship raises awareness of rugby league in Turkey and if you have been following us for a while you will know that our main area of focus has always been local development and growth. This tournament is also fully backed by the municipality of Bodrum which is a very prestigious municipality in Turkey and abroad.
“All of this combined, is another massive boost for the sport locally and will bring more interest in rugby league worldwide as the game keeps growing.”
Turkey will play the Netherlands in their first encounter on October 14. It’s a match Treu is looking forward to for more than one reason.
“The Netherlands have a special place in my heart being half Dutch. I played for the Netherlands against Georgia in 2005 so I hope to see some old faces during the championship. The fact that the Euro-D championship only allows three heritage players is a great way for local talent to show themselves and push each nation to develop their local competition.
“If you add the Covid situation and the fact Turkey is still on the red list in the UK and France we most probably won’t have very many heritage players in the course of the championship. National teams will most probably consist of local players, thus promoting the work that has been done locally.
“Based on this, the Netherlands are for me one of the favorite teams of this competition. On the Turkish side we have been preparing for this for the past five years working on improving the local league, participating in international events such as the Balkan super league and the Emerging Nations World Cup in Australia so that the players could come back and share their experiences with locals.
“The fact that we are playing in Turkey in front of a Turkish crowd will I am sure give a boost to our players to give 150% on the pitch to get the result we are looking for.”
In another major coup for the TRLA, European Rugby League has sanctioned the launch of the first official European Beach Rugby League Championships for men and women, which will be held in Turkey in the summer of 2022. Turkey has been a leader in facilitating beach rugby league tournaments over the last five years.
“We are always looking to play more international games as this is the only way forward for a sport to grow, building its attraction and credibility,” Treu said.
“This is why we have been working together with the European Rugby League Federation for the past 6 months to start a European Beach Rugby League Championship involving national teams. We are planning to start the first edition in summer 2022 with the main goal being to develop the concept into a summer tour event bringing the tournament to a couple of different major cities.”
After starting the Turkish domestic competition at the end of 2016, the TRLA has gone from strength to strength in Turkey and Australia, including holding an ANZAC Day match against the Australian Defence Forces at the Sydney Cricket Ground this year.
“We have decided to postpone the start of this year’s league in order to focus on the European Championship. We will start our championship in November,“ Treu revealed.
“The main addition for this season will be our focus on how to perpetuate the game with the creation of academies around Turkey. In order for the sport to grow we need the clubs to be self sustainable and the only way forward for them is with the addition of local academies starting from the age 7 to 16. We have already started an under 18’s competition and we now need to move forward in order to feed all categories. We are confident that we can achieve getting a couple of academies up and running within a year.
“In Australia, we now have a new management team that will try to get some international games running in Australia and they are also launching a youth section with the help and support of Tarik Yalcinkaya who was previously involved in youth development in Sydney.”
Treu will most likely take a step back from his national coaching duties after the tournament in Bodrum.
“Given the many great additions to our coaching staff such as Aidan Sezer, Jansin Turgut in Europe and Frank Pritchard in Australia, this European Championship will probably be my last tournament as the national team coach so I can focus more on the development aspect of the game.”