Victorious Greek women to return to rugby’s international stage

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After a successful campaign last year that saw the Greece women’s rugby league team win the European B (South) Championship, the Hellenic ladies will test themselves against Serbia on November 11 this year.

It will be the first time Greece has taken the field in over 12 months and head coach Stuart McLennan is expecting to face a more formidable foe than the one his team defeated 28-0 in Athens, Greece, last year.

“Serbia has undertaken a strong preparation leading into this game after playing against France and the England Community Lions side this year,” McLennan said. 

“We will go to Serbia without a match under our belts but I am confident we have the talent and spirit to put in a good showing against our rivals.

“Serbia and Greece have worked cooperatively in the past to develop rugby league in the region and we welcome another opportunity to take the field with this proud nation.”

McLennan will select an 18-woman squad after the first round of club matches are completed in Athens on October 29.

“The domestic women’s competition has developed steadily since women commenced playing rugby league in Greece in 2019. I believe we will have a strong squad made up entirely from players who represent the four clubs in the competition; Aris Eagles, Athens Raiders, Attica Rhinos and Zante,” McLennan said.

The Greek women’s team won the European B (South) Championship last year. Photo: Blue Kirlian.

“We will have a little under two weeks to prepare after we confirm our squad before traveling 10 hours by bus to the Serbian town of Bojnik. Our players are itching to get back out on the field to represent their country.”  

Greece captain Rania Koutsikou, who is currently studying for a PhD in sports science in Cardiff, said she is very excited to get back together with her team this year. 

“Every international game is a new opportunity to develop our domestic players, to focus on new skills and to work hard to become better physically. I’m looking forward to creating new memories on and off the field with the girls. Sharing the field with powerful women and working together, it is a unique feeling,” McLennan said.

“I’m feeling grateful to be the captain of girls that work all night at the hospital and train at 7.30 in the morning, changing clothes in the car after training to go to work, traveling from different cities and making their own sacrifices to be part of our national team and develop the sport that we love. That’s why I want to give it all on the field and always be by their side before and after those 80 minutes.

“After scoring the winning try against Turkey last summer, a video came out of people watching us in the centre of Athens and cheering for us, living the same agony and celebrating the moment. It was very moving. 

“We play for ourselves, we play for our community. It’s such a unique thing to be able to be united with other Greeks across the globe, especially with our massive community in Australia which has played such an important role in the development of the game here. 

“It’s things like this that make you appreciate how sport can bring us together no matter where we are based, and we certainly feel the support of everyone and hope to make them proud.”

Match details: Greece vs Serbia, Saturday, 11 November in Bojnik. 

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