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Q&A: Euro XIIIs general manager Dean Buchan – part one

Competition format, logistics and funding revealed. In part of one of our interview with Dean Buchan, the Euro XIIIs general manager talks about his own background, as well as the story behind the formulation of …

Competition format, logistics and funding revealed.

In part of one of our interview with Dean Buchan, the Euro XIIIs general manager talks about his own background, as well as the story behind the formulation of the tournament, including the format, logistics and funding.

FORTY20 NEWS: What is your own background in Rugby League?

DEAN BUCHAN: The founders of Euro XIIIs are Tiziano Franchini, Orazio D’arro and Myself. Whilst I might not have the decades of Rugby League experience some crave, both Tiziano and Orazio have Rugby League CVs that go back quite far.

For example, Tiziano has been involved at every level of Rugby League – as a player, coach, administrator, and at various levels both domestically and within Europe. In 2002, he helped take Rugby League back to Italy. In 2003 he signed off the constitution as the RLEF was formed.

He has coached the Italian national side and was president of the FIRL for three years. He has also been part of the RLEF coaching department since 2011, and has delivered many coach education courses in Italy and in Europe, and he has worked as an RLEF tutor in Spain, Czech Republic, Holland, Greece, Hungary and more.

So, people need not worry about our ability to deliver this tournament.

However, I also reject the notion that only Rugby League people can be involved in the game. To be successful in anything you need a range of skills from various places, and it is the blend of our team that gives me absolute confidence that we will deliver a first-class tournament in 2021.

F20N: How did the idea for Euro XIIIs come about?

DB: The idea was born out of the Valencia Huracanes’ game against Featherstone Rovers in January. After that game we were inundated with requests from European clubs to play games.

Many of the teams didn’t have a league of their own and they were looking for more than a handful of games each year.

The more we spoke to clubs, and then to Federations, it became clear that we needed a competition that could support player development, strengthen domestic leagues and increase participation across Europe.

I believe that is what we have created and the response from clubs and the national governing bodies certainly demonstrates that.

Every club in Euro XIIIs has sought the backing of their respective national governing body and you can see that in the videos where the teams have been confirmed.

F20N: How is the new competition being funded?

DB: The first thing we all recognise is that clubs and governing bodies around Europe don’t have the funds to create this type of tournament, so we have had to seek outside investment.

Again, that might be unpopular to some, but without money there can be no sport.

As founders, we have sourced a mixture of private backing, Government funding and commercial partnerships to make the competition a reality. This means that as we speak now, the tournament has been fully costed and is funded for 2021.

It is now for us as organisers to make it a success, both on and off the pitch, to ensure that it develops and continues for years to come.

What’s really encouraging is to hear how each of the teams confirmed in the tournament have seen a surge in sponsorship enquiries.

That’s pretty amazing when you consider we are in a global pandemic. Whilst some teams are having sponsorship deals downgraded or cancelled, our clubs are becoming financially stronger and gaining higher exposure.

That’s great for Rugby League and growing the game across Europe.

F20N: How will you manage the logistics of travel across Europe for amateur players?

DB: Some people think that we are just three people running this, but that is not the case. Already, the team is in double figures.

Since announcing the competition, we have been swamped by people who want to get involved in this project because they are genuinely excited.

We have also invited all individuals from the various governing bodies and clubs to get involved, and we’ve been really pleased that many of them have offered their services.

This is how we will develop clubs throughout Europe, by working together.

I have seen reports regarding jurisdiction, governance, and other elements, but we have to remember that the national governing bodies in each country are very experienced in moving their teams from country to country and organising games.

We will be utilising individuals who have worked in those bodies for years who have vast experience of doing so, and that will help us to overcome the hurdles of Euro XIIIs.

Again, these are not just random people, but qualified people from inside national federations and domestic clubs.

They are experienced sports people and we will be blending them with non-sports people who understand the challenges of this tournament – whether that be logistically or from a governance perspective.

We have a number of working groups focusing on governance, logistics, refereeing, and other elements, and we will be announcing those teams as we get nearer to the tournament kick-off.

F20N: How will the fixtures and competition be structured?

DB: The format for 2021 is a Cup competition. There are 16 teams with a simple knock-out format, so teams will be whittled down from 16, to 8, to 4 and then to the final 2.

The tournament will last six weeks and will be completed prior to the domestic seasons kicking off.

This means that teams, whether or not they are eliminated in the first round, will be guaranteed more games in 2021 – and at least one game against European opposition, which is great for the players and fans alike.

In 2022, the plan is to extend the Cup format to 32 teams and to include an eight-team league that can further strengthen teams across Europe.

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