Italia Rugby League will play in their first ever Rugby League World Cup in 2013.

Teams from England, France and Australia toured Italy during the 1950s and 1960s, but it was 1995 before Rugby League re-appeared on the country’s sporting landscape when Australians with Italian heritage formed the Italia Rugby league with the goal of assisting with the game’s revival.

Italy’s resurgence came with the qualifying matches for the 2000 Rugby League World Cup and the Emerging Nations event which ran alongside. The Italians preformed well in the latter, winning pool games against the United States and Canada before losing 20-14 to Britain’s talented amateurs.

Following occasional games in Sydney, Italy took part in the 2009 European Nations Shield against Germany and the Czech Republic. Fielding players mainly drawn form the local Italian clubs, Italy defeated Germany 58-26 and the Czech Republic 38-18 to lift the trophy.

Italy secured the remaining RLWC2013 spot in group C alongside Scotland and Tonga thanks to a 78th-minute drop goal against Lebanon.

Domestically, the Federazione Italiana Rugby League (FIRL) was formed in 2008 to further develop the game in Italy. A year later, the inaugural Italian domestic competition was won by Monster XIII.

The Italian Rugby League Championship now involves eight clubs competing for the title of Champions of Italy, currently held by the Duchy XIII of Piacenza.

The current FIRL international squad is made up of players based in Italy, Australia, England and France under Head Coach and ex-Salford Reds player Carlo Napolitano.

The team will be captained by NRL veteran Anthony Minichiello of Sydney Roosters, a former international Rugby League ‘Golden Boot’ winner as ‘Best Player in the World’.

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