It was one of the well-documented stories of the World Cup that the Greece men’s side had qualified in spite of the sport being illegal in their home nation, but now they’re going further and hosting international games on home soil.
This marks a huge move for rugby league in Europe and obviously Greece where the sport wasn’t sanctioned and teams had to play and practice in fear of games being broken up by police.
That made their qualification for the World Cup incredible and they were one of the feel-good factors in a brilliant tournament.
European Rugby League have now announced that Greece are set to host both men’s fixture in 2023 in what will be a first for the nation.
On May 13th the men will host Serbia in Athens which players only from each nation’s domestic leagues available for selection.
Before then though the women’s team will face the Philippines in Sydney at the end of January as they prepare to qualify for the 2025 World Cup in France.
On the men’s match the GRLF president, George Stilianos, said: “We are very excited about the match. The is a lot of competition for spots in the team and there will be some real selection dilemmas for the coach. It will be a good test for our players as we prepare for the 2025 World Cup qualifiers later in the year. We will do everything we can to promote the match and are confident we can get a big crowd along now we are a fully recognised sport.”
Greece coach, Michalis Chatziioannou, added: “Serbia are a very tough opponent and doing a great job domestically and with junior development, something we admire. It is great to be back at home after the World Cup last autumn, we are going to be fully prepared physically and mentally.”
Darren Fisher, Serbia head coach, noted: “We are really looking forward to the game, it will be a great event for both nations. It is the first fixture for our senior domestic players in over a year. Greece had a great World Cup and it will be great to see how that’s developed their domestic game. I’m expecting a tough and enthusiastic side and a real test of our credentials.”