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One can understand the flow of emotions and excitement felt by the Malta players from down under when they set foot, most of them for the first time,on their father?s land on Friday 14th October. They are going to play the first ever international Rugby League match on Maltese soil against England Lionhearts on Saturday 22nd October at Marsa Stadium, Malta.
The enthusiastic locals have warmly welcomed their overseas cousins, and everyone is looking forward to the big day, which will be a first step for the development of the 13 man code on the Mediterranean Island.
First ever Maltese born player to be selected to represent his country in Rugby League, impressive Rugby Union international prop Robert Bonavia is absolutely delighted to be part of the adventure: "It?s such a great honour to join the team" he said after the Jersey?s presentation held at the Australian High Comissioner Residence in Malta, given by the High Commissioner himself, HE Richard Palk.
The Maltese are ready for the contest and their coach Joe Grima is looking forward to Saturday: "I told the players what I always tell them before a game: play for yourself, play for the team, play for your HERITAGE!" he declared. MRLA Patron and President of the Australian-Maltese Chamber of Commerce Syd Borg is equally delighted with the event: "After 18 months of hard work, what a great reward for the players to come back on their ancestral?s land to play their favorite sport!" he said.
On the Lionhearts' side, Manager Nick Evans is expecting a disputed contest: "It?s a great opportunity for the Lionhearts to be part of an historical event, on their first international tour. There is a lot of potential for Rugby League development in Malta and Saturday?s game should be of a very good standard"
2005 Powergen Referee of the year Ashley Klein will officiate for the game along with touch judges Paul Grunhill and Peter Wharton. Australian born Ashley Klein also refereed Last week?s Super League Grand Final in Manchester.
There has been constant adverstising for the match, and very good press coverage. Hardworking Malta PR officer, Anthony Micallef was invited on National Television to promote the event. No less than the only three National TV networks are expected to attend and cover the game! Last Wednesday, an OZ tag 7?s tournament, where both teams took part, was oragnised on the popular beach Resort of Mellieha Bay. An important and curious crowd gathered to appreciate the rugby skills and pace displayed by both teams.
Saturday?s event will attract a big audience and will set the bases for Rugby League Development in Malta. "The Maltese have already organised an office to be based on the Island and run by locals in order to carry on the development work initiated in the Southern Hemisphere. This is really encouraging! " declared RLEF Representative Benjamin Araud.
The Malta team's journey from Australia has been helped by Maltagenealogy.com and DOM International Carriers Pty Ltd.
Saturday 22nd October Marsa Stadium, Malta MALTA Knights VS ENGLAND Lionhearts Kick Off @ 2pm
'HISTORIC FIRST RUGBY LEAGUE MATCH IN MALTA' SPONSORS Maltagenealogy.com www.maltagenealogy.com DOM International Carriers Pty Ltd
MRLA SPONSORS 2005 Penrith Subaru www.penrithsubaru.com.au Camsons DOM International Carriers Pty Ltd Rapa Family Biscuits Ubeeco-Packaging Solutions www.ubeeco.com.au Maltagenealogy.com www.maltagenealogy.com