For Greece, it was a historic night as the national team played their first ever game in the Rugby World Cup on Monday.
Their mighty opponents, France, the founders of the World Cup, proved too strong for Greece winning 34-12 at Doncaster, England.
Greece trailed 0-20 at halftime, registering their first ever inclusion in the World Cup shortly before the hour mark.
Their effort in the second-half was best summed up by the fact that France had to take a settling penalty on sixty-seven minutes.
Although Mathieu Laguerre’s break finished in a try for Mourgue by the posts to stretch France’s lead to 26-6, the next ten minutes or so belonged to the Greeks. They were cheered on by their supporters at the Eco Power Stadium.
The biggest cheer of the night went up for what the crowd thought was Greece’s first try, only for the referee to correctly rule it out for a knock on.
But in the fifty-sixth minute, they got what they wanted as Jordan Meads’ well-placed kick to the left corner was touched down by Siteni Taukamo.
Greece saved the best for the end. In the final minute, Meads picked out Nicholas Mougios down the left, and he weaved in and out to race in from forty meters.
It mattered little in reality, but Greece may have taken it as a small victory.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the boys and the effort they put in,” Greece coach Steve Georgallis said.
“I asked for them to put in a real effort in the second half and they did,” he said. “I just told them to go over to the crowd and take in the moment. You saw how much it meant to them to play for Greece, [and] they love playing the game…now they can.
“I think it’s only up from here,” the coach predicted.
Greece’s rugby players decided to play without pay at the World Cup
Players and staff of the Greece national rugby league team have revealed that they do not intend to receive any money from their Rugby League World Cup campaign.
Most players in the Greek squad are part-time and have taken leave without pay to play.
Yet, rather than collect their weekly stipend from tournament organizers, they have decided to put their tournament allowance back into Greek Rugby League Federation’s coffers.
Most players for Greece come from the Australian rugby league
Twenty-four players make up the Greek national rugby team, most from the Australian rugby league.
This includes five Australian National Rugby League (NRL) players and several players from the Australian Junior Rugby League. There are also eight domestic players from Greece.
The squad includes Jordan Meads (Captain), Lachlan Elias, Stefanos Bastas, Nikolaos Bosmos, Terry Constantinou, Jake Kambos, John Mitsias, Nick Mougios, Robert Tuliatu, Sebastian Sell, Chaise Robinson, Kosta Katsidonis, Mitchell Zampetides, Greg Koutsimporgiorgos, Theodoros Nianiakas, Vasili Tsikrikas, Adam Vrahnos.
They are coached by Steve Georgallis with the help of assistant coaches Jim Pizanias and Michalis Chatziinoannou.