Lignano – European Capital – Beach 5’s Rugby

The European Beach Rugby Club Championships really are talking ‘Italian’.

That was part of the humourous banter eminating from the General Assembly meeting of EBRA (European Beach Rugby Association) which was held in Marseille, France during last weekend.

[frame align=”center”]EBRA-All for One and One for All![/frame]

And why ? Well, EBRA has once again awarded Lignano Sabbiadoro the honour of staging the European Club Cup Final, not just for 2013 but also 2014. “EBRA has targeted these two years in order to work towards the long term development of the sport”, explains Giancarlo Stocco, who is both President of the European Beach Rugby Association and organizer of the Lignano tournament.

“This is an important development for Lignano and European BEACH 5’s Rugby and yet it comes as no surprise. In July 2012, the representatives of Europe’s other key BEACH 5’s tournaments were present at Lignano where, following the excellent organization of the inaugural European Club Cup Final, they had already expressed their faith in the venue for another year. When we put the weekend into numbers, with a ‘LIVE’ Beach Arena audience of 10,500 people (of which 4,000 fans packed the stands to capacity for the finals on Sunday afternoon), with 8,300 individual contacts through the web’s LIVE STREAM broadcasting of each match, with more than 100,000 individual visits on Facebook, along with 9,600 web site visitors, it says a lot about how we have worked in 2012 and what success we’ve achieved. Moreover, we can say it has been a phenomenal success for the European Beach Rugby movement, success which has gone way beyond the continents borders, especially if you think that the city with the highest number of accesses to the LIVE stream was Buenos Aires in Argentina !! While England was the country with the highest number of visits.

“The fact that we’re all talking Italian is also because we naturally have a few Italians serving in the associations different Commissions / Working Groups. “For example, apart from myself” – specifies Stocco – “Cesare Zambelli will be in the new EBRA Commission for European Beach Rugby Research and Evaluation, where new events and new teams will be evaluated, the Italian International Referee, Mauro Dordolo, who is now also coordinator of Italian National Rugby referees group, will chair the EBRA Disciplinary Committee; on the other hand, Ben Little, from Ireland, who is a member of the Forum Iulii organisation team for the last 2 years, will join EBRA’s Commission to further develop relations with the IRB and FIRA. So important new roles and indeed a great recognition of our work.”

There is talk of a second Italian tournament that might be added to the European Championship. How might this work and, in general, how might the sport of Beach 5’s Rugby develop ?

“We must keep in mind that the European Cup Final at Lignano Sabbiadoro is reserved for the best teams in Europe. It must be for those squads that play at highest level and it is organised by invitation only, based on each teams ranking achieved during the preceding years. We nevertheless want to open the opportunity to many other European teams to participate in events at a European level, providing all clubs with a chance to participate in and win an international title. And so from this concept stems the European BEACH 5’s Series. Participating tournaments will be nominated and all the teams involved will play for points that will go towards an overall ranking. At the end of the series, the team with the most points will be crowned Champions of the European BEACH 5’s Series.

In addition to the existing tournaments at ZEEBRUGGE, Belgium ( 28-30 June 2013), MARSEILLE, France (6-7 July 2013) and FIGUEIRA Portugal (13-14 July 2013), there may be 2 or 3 other events added, including an Italian one, that we will confirm shortly. The European Cup Final at Lignano Sabbiadoro, the home of International Super Beach 5’s Rugby, will be played on 20-21 July 2013. The Club who manages to win both the European BEACH 5’s Series and the European Cup Final, will win the GRAND SLAM.

What other important topics were discussed?

“Bearing in mind the statutes of EBRA, when it comes to talking about beach rugby, we do so without limits. This means that we are talking about the development of beach rugby in its different forms – tackle, touch, tag, male, female, and how each will be recognised by the IRB and FIRA-AER. Obviously, at this time, we are limiting ourselves to club activity and not the national teams, which are the responsibility of the IRB and FIRA-AER. However, we will initiate a series of contacts to commence the development of such realities. In terms of the Ladies game in Italy, this will be developed much faster, and with regard to Beach Touch, I will make some initial contacts to evaluate with whom in Italy EBRA can work to promote this project ”

So you’re expecting a very busy and tough season ahead?

“Yes indeed, and don’t forget that in Italy we also have the LIBR, who will be staging their Extraordinary General Meeting on November 17, in Rome, to elect the next President of the LIBR and to organize the new 2013 season in Italy. There is a lot of work ahead. ”

Interview with Giancarlo Stocco, President EBRA – 01.10.2012

Press Forum Iulii R.F.C.