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The Alitalia European Cup has been hailed a huge success following Wales' upset 12-11 win over France at the weekend to qualify for their first Four Nations appearance in 2011.

Rugby League European Federation chairman Richard Lewis said the Alitalia European Cup was a success on many fronts after the dramatic 12-11 triumph by Wales in Albi on Saturday.

The victory sees Iestyn Harris’ men qualify for the 2011 Four Nations tournament where they will face England, Australia and New Zealand.

Speaking after Ireland faced Scotland in the sixth and final match of the three-week competition, Lewis said: “The Alitalia European Cup has been a huge success on so many fronts.

“The competition went up a level when such high profile sponsors allied themselves to it and their confidence in the sport and the product has been matched on and off the field.

“There have been some terrific clashes, not least Wales’ two one-point wins to bring them the ultimate glory not least yesterday in a match that had huge meaning and resonance. The French were devastated to miss out which shows how much the competition means.”

Lewis said the Alitalia European Cup had been a success of the field also with increased match attendances and television viewing and coverage.

“Attendances have been significantly up especially in France and totalling over 40,000; television coverage and viewing figures have been similarly excellent – particularly on French terrestrial TV - and there has been worldwide interest in the outcomes,” he said.

“Each of the four competing nations have managed as well as staged their home fixtures and the professionalism displayed has been another highly uplifting feature.

“Coupled with the expanded RLEF Board and further developments such as next weekend’s Nordic Cup, the progress being made across the northern hemisphere is genuine and seemingly sustainable.”
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