SERBIAN RUGBY LEAGUE NATION OVERVIEW
Information on this page was updated – 19/5/2014
Foundation Year – 1953 & 2001
International Team – Serbian Rugby League
Highest finish in World Cup – Played in 2008 & 2013 Rugby League World Cup qualifying games.
Top level domestic competition – Serbia have a 8 team National Championship competition.
History – The sport of Rugby league first started in Serbia in 1953 at the initiative of Secretary of the Yugoslav Sports Association Dragan Marsicevic who responded positively to an offer from the French Rugby League Federation to send two teams to Yugoslavia to promote Rugby League in Serbia. The first game was played in Belgrade on 26th November 1953 between a team of French students and a representation of Provence.
On the 1st November 1953 in the capital city of Belgrade, the first ever Rugby league team was formed. This team was called Rugby League Club Partizan. A few months later a second club was formed by the name of Rugby League Club Radnicki. With growing excitement for the fledgling sport, the first domestic game of Rugby League was played on Serbian soil between Partizan and Radnicki on April 26, 1954 in the historic town of Paracin. Rugby League Club Partizan ran out victors 21 points to 11 and thus have the claim of being the first ever team to win a domestic game of Rugby League in Serbia.
On May 1 1954, the two teams took to battle again, this time in Belgrade. Once again, Partizan were victorious winning 16:14. With Partizan and Radnicki attracting fans to the previously unknown sport, it was time for the first international game to be played in 1961. This event was a resounding success as Yougoslavia took on France A in the city of Banja Luka. It proved to be a close game with the French prevailing 13-0 in front of over 6,000 people.
As is the case with Rugby League in a lot of countries, this success was not maintained. In 1964 Rugby League came to a sudden halt due to pressure from Rugby Union clubs in Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia.
It wasn’t until November 10, 2001 that Rugby League returned to Serbia on the initiative of Rugby League clubs Dorcol, Morava, Novi Sad and Beli Orao. These four teams formed the Serbian Rugby League Federation which set the pathways in place success on the international and domestic stage for the next decade.
In 2003, the highly successful Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) was formed. It was this same year that Serbia became members, utilising the resources the RLEF had to offer.
The major achievements over the next five years was the formation of the Belgrade Rugby League Federation which was set up by Rugby League clubs based in Belgrade along with the national side winning their first ever European Shield in 2007.
In early 2008 the Rugby League European Federation released European seedings with Serbia ranked 8th out of 16 European nations.
2009 saw the culmination of years of hard work with the Serbian Rugby League Federation becoming an official member of the Serbian Sport Association. This was a clear acknowledgment of the progress that Nebojsa Sretenovic and the Serbian Rugby League had made.
In early 2009 Serbia were ranked 16th in World seedings by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF).
2010 saw a continued focus on junior development which continued to bear fruit with the national side winning the European Shield once more In an impressive development structure, Serbian Rugby league currently has more than 250 players who participate in the Serbian Rugby League domestic competition and more than 120 players who participate in Serbian Student Rugby with a thirst to expand these numbers even more. More than 10 youth tournaments are held each year.
The 8 clubs who currently play in the Serbian Domestic League play over 50 games each year. These 8 clubs are divided into two group. Group A consists of powerhouse Dorcol, along with Radnicki, Car Lazar and Red Star. Group B consists of Morava Cheetas, Nis, Soko and Old Town. Some of the events which took place in 2011 include First Division, Second League, Serbian Cup and Shield of Serbia. The plan for 2012 is to involve two more teams in Second Division. Two more junior competitions will also be introduced next year to the U18s Cup and U16s championship. In a structure that is clearly working, the Serbian Rugby League board currently consists of 5 board members with a clear passion and drive to develop the game of Rugby League in Serbia.
Always on the lookout for new initiatives to expand the appeal of Rugby League, 2011 saw the first ever Under 18’s State of Origin tournament played on Sunday 10th July at FK Dubocica Stadium in the city of Leskovac. The three teams were compiled of players from Vojvodina (North Serbia), Belgrade and the South Serbia. In a game that was more about game development than the actual result, Vojovodina ran out winners in draining 38 degree heat. With 51 players from all over Serbia, board member Radoslav Novakovic was quoted as saying the event was a “dream for junior development”. This event was considered a landmark day for Rugby League in Serbia. The autumn of 2011 saw the first ever U18s (13-a-side) national championship where five teams played each other once. Dorcol were crowned champions once again after tense grand final.
In a sport not always known for its stability, Serbia have proven to be a beacon of consistency, being able to boast of being one of the few countries to participate in every U18/U16 European Nations Cup since 2006. This is a feat that even countries such as Ireland and Wales haven’t achieved. In an acknowledgment of the progress of the game in Serbia, the Rugby League International Federation granted Serbia the rights to host a world cup qualifier double header to be staged in October 2011. Unfortunately, Serbia were unsuccessful in their quest to qualify for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup losing heavily to heritage player packed teams from Lebanon and Italy. In what was considered a great game of Rugby League, Serbia lost the Slavic cup to Russia, defeated 28-36 in Belgrade.
This has not weakened the desire to qualify for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Asked about the immediate goals of the Serbian Rugby League, Nebojsa Sretenovic told us that that he wants Serbia to become one of the leading nation in Rugby League in the Continental Europe.
As of 2011 Serbia where ranked 15th by the RLIF and 8th by the RLEF.
Dear Readers, If you have first hand knowledge of the current Rugby League situation in Serbia we would love to hear from you. Please email us at: [email protected] or join our international rugby league Forums at http://forums.rugbyleagueplanet.com and let us all know what’s going on in your part of the world.
SERBIAN INTERNATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE RESULTS
2015 Rugby League Results
May 16th Serbia 20 v Russia 15, Belgrade (Euro Championship B)
2014 Rugby League Results
Oct 19th Greece 50 v Serbia 22, Final, Makiš Stadium (Balkans Championship)
Oct 17th Serbia 50 v Hungary 0, FC Dorćol (Balkans Championship)
Sep 20th Serbia 45 v Italy 6, Belgrade (European Championship B)
Jun 21st Russia 20 v Serbia 6, Naro Fominsk (European Championship B)
May 17th Serbia 40 v Ukraine 14, Belgrade (European Championship B)
2013 Rugby League Results
Sep 14th Italy 32 v Serbia 20 (European Shield)
May 25th Serbia 10 v Russia 24 (European Shield)
May 18th Serbia 46 v Germany 10 (European Shield)
2012 Rugby League Results
Sep 22nd Russia 21 – Serbia 20 (European Shield)
Jun 9th Serbia 24 – Italy 18 (European Shield)
May 12th Germany 25 – Serbia 24 (European Shield)
2011 Rugby League Results
Oct 29th Serbia 28 – Russia 36 (World Cup Qualifiers Europe)
Oct 23rd Serbia 6 – Italy 52 (World Cup Qualifiers Europe)
Oct 16th Lebanon 96 – Serbia 4 (World Cup Qualifiers Europe)
Sep 30th Serbia 10 – 4 Ukraine (Milan Kosanovic Cup)
2010 Rugby League Results
Jul 3rd Serbia 40 – Germany 14 (European Shield)
Jun 26th Czech Republic 4 – Serbia 56 (European Shield)
2009 Rugby League Results
Nov 8th Italy 42 – Serbia 14 (European Cup)
Oct 24th Wales 88 – Serbia 8 (European Cup)
Oct 18th Ireland 82 – Serbia 0 (European Cup)
2008 Rugby League Results
Oct 5th Lebanon 20 – Serbia 14 (Euro Med Challenge)
Sep 20th Russia 30 – Serbia 4 (Euro Med Challenge)
Feb 23rd Morocco 44 – Serbia 6
2007 Rugby League Results
Aug 18th Serbia 56 Czech Repu 16 (Central Euro Development Tri-Nations)
July 7th Serbia 38 – Germany 6 (Central Euro Development Tri-Nations)
2006 Rugby League Results
Oct 28th Greece 44 – Serbia 26
Aug 12th Serbia 38 – Czech Republic 26
Jun 17th Netherlands 38 – Serbia 26 (World Cup Qualifier)
Jun 4th Russia 44 – Serbia 6 (World Cup Qualifier)
May 13th Georgia 45 – Serbia 10 (World Cup Qualifier)
2005 Rugby League Results
Jul 24th Georgia 44 – Serbia 12
Jun 18th Netherlands 26 – Serbia 10
2004 Rugby League Results
Oct 9th Morocco 20 – Serbia 20 (Mediterranean Cup)
Oct 5th France 18 – Serbia 4 (Mediterranean Cup)
Oct 2nd Lebanon 64 – Serbia 6 (Mediterranean Cup)
Aug 8th Netherlands 24 – Serbia 14 (Rotterdam Cup)
Aug 3rd Scotland Students 66 – Serbia 0 (Rotterdam Cup)
2003 Rugby League Results
Oct 25th Morocco 58 – Serbia 4 (Mediterranean Cup)
Oct 22nd France 120 – Serbia 0 (Mediterranean Cup)
Oct 19th Lebanon 102 – Serbia 0 (Mediterranean Cup)
Jul 13th Scotland A 42 – Serbia 22