THE HISTORY OF RUGBY LEAGUE IN GHANA
History & Inception of Rugby League in Ghana 2012 - 2014
In 2011, The Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) selected Ghana as the pilot West African project, due to the RLEF’s partnership with UK Sport International (the British government agency charged with international sports development, which in 2011-13 was implementing international leadership programmes in Ghana, through its partner institution University of Ghana) and acquisition of a sponsor involved in professional Rugby League in England. After a number of conversations taking place between Danny Kazandjian (RLEF), Clare Barrell (UK Sport) and long term backers the Giwa-McNeil family, Rugby League was born in Ghana.
The RLEF benefited from the North-South relationship between the University of Ghana and UK Sport. In particular, through the joint Beckwith International Leadership and Development (BILD) programme run by UG and UK Sport. As a result of this relationship, RLEF was able to enter and access Ghana smoothly.
It was in 2011 that the University of Ghana (UG) assisted RLEF by providing them temporary office space so they could operate. At that time, Dr. Emmnual Owusu Ansah was the Director of the Sports Directorate of the University of Ghana and Derrick Charway coordinated the BILD programme.
An identified core group composed primarily of students and recent graduates of the University of Ghana was assigned to Alex Winstanley (who was a member of the BILD programme in 2012) and Derrick Charway who facilitated the recruitment process of the first coordinator for Rugby League Ghana. Sylvester Wellington led the core group, which included Alfred Attieku, Jafaru Awudu Mustapha, Marshall Nortey, and Coach Julius Amevor.
In March 2012, the RLEF embarked on a fact-finding trip to Ghana. One of the objectives was to hire a member of staff to manage the project with Sylvester Wellington being engaged as a consultant and Development Manager in June 2012. In August of 2012, Sylvester Wellington was flown to England to receive coach and match official (MO) education and to generally be exposed to as much Rugby League as possible.
August 2012 saw the RLEF, in tandem with the Rugby Football League (RFL) plan to deploy a three-man technical RFL employee delegation team of Martin Crick (Coach Educator) Andy Gilvary (Development Officer) and Danny McNeice (Match Officials) to Accra in November to deliver coach and MO training to locals as part of the wider development strategy to begin a club and schools’ competition. Over 50 attendees participated in the week-long event. A number of volunteers from Nigeria also attended the course as observers.
In 2013 Rugby League was then introduced to circa 20 schools, with the RLEF providing 200 balls and kit to the aid in resourcing the program and assist Ghana Rugby League to embed themselves in the local community. February 2013 saw the first organised Rugby League matches played in Ghana (in UG as part of a UKSI seminar) with an agreement to send the GB Student Pioneers team to Ghana in the summer of 2014 to further promote the sport and strengthen ties with this new Rugby League nation.
On the 6th July at the El-Wak Sports Stadium in Accra, a Ghana ‘All Stars’ team played against the Great Britain Student Pioneers, the pioneers victorious by 48-10.
RLFG's GENERAL MANAGERS
Sam Leach (2018) & Jafaru Mustapha (2019 - current).
Rugby League Federation Ghana 2014 and beyond
The National Governing Body, Ghana Rugby League, was inaugurated on 6 April 2014 in Accra and became an Observer of the RLEF on August 7 2014. Ghana Rugby League became Rugby League Federation Ghana on December 17, 2015. In March 2016 the First University of Ghana Rugby League Inter-Hall Games were presented between Legon Hall, Liman Hall, Akuafo Hall, Mensah Sabah and the International Students Hostel.
Since inception, and the forming of the RLFG, Rugby League has quickly accelerated in the capital of Accra, cementing the community game from 2016 with the introduction of an annual Rugby League 9’s Series, 13 a-side Club Championship, Higher Education Inter-Hall competition and more recently engaging women and girls.
2018 saw the appointment of Sam Leach as RLFG General Manager as highlighted in the RLEF's press release with the main purpose of creating a robust organisational structure and administering senior and youth championships.
In 2019, and within the 12 months following, the RLFG partnered the University of Ghana to organize a six team inter-hall 13’s tournament. This was followed by the formation of a four strong club competition, namely; Skolars, Bulls, Panthers and Pirates. The four proceeded to play a standard 13’s Championship with the best players representing the NATIONAL TEAM, finishing third at the Middle East Africa (MEA) Championship held in Nigeria.
CHAMPIONSHIP RUNNERS UP
INTER HALL COMPETITION
ACTION FROM 2018
The driving force from 2019 and the return from Covid 19
The development of the game for 2020 and future seasons has sat in the hands of a dedicated committee, volunteer base, board members and officials. With the COVID 19 pandemic putting a hold on all activities for the majority of the 2020 season, the game regrouped for the 2021 season and had it's most successful year to date.
The RLFG has saw a number of rounds of successful 9s competition take place, the Rugby League Wizard live quiz, training for men, women along with an influx of juniors. The 2021 Championships were a great success, Skolars being crowned the Men's Champions for the season. The most talented players moved to the Origins Cup Series which took place in September, and the National Team selection process followed HERE.
Without competition for the National Team from another nation, the Presidents XIII were assembled (the best of the competition that were not selected for the National Team) and the first ever inter nation trial was born.
2022 has seen yet another leap forward in the game's development, more players, more coaches, more clubs and more teams than ever before playing the great game of rugby league in Ghana. A successful 9s tournament kick started the year, followed by the club chmapionships with Oxford University heading to the Capital in July to face off against both the Presidents XIII and the HANetf National Team.
THE NATIONAL MEN AND WOMEN 2022
TRAINING CAMP FROM SEPTEMBER FOR THE MEA
The 2022 Salford Partnership | Oxford Tour and MEA Championships
As the game continued to explode in 2022 across Ghana, the RLFG has been able to build more substantial relationships with outside partners. The Salford link has sent kit and equipment to Ghana with the ambition to bring Ghana coaching staff and voliunteers to the UK. Oxford University toured Accra in July with a 3 game series, and after successfully bidding for the Middle East Africa Championships, we welcomed Cameroon, Kenya and Nigeria to the University of Ghana in September, whereby Ghana placed second, losing in the final 30-4.
THE NATIONAL TEAM V OXFORD UNIVERSITY
RLFG COACHES AND THEIR SALFORD ATTIRE
THE SALFORD PARTNERSHIP 2022