A landmark has been reached by the Federazione Italiana Rugby League (FIRL) as they prepare for an U18 international against Serbia on Saturday.
The match will be played at Gemona as a curtain-raiser to the European Championship B encounter between Italy and Ukraine, and comes on the back of completing the inaugural youth 13-a-side league in the country.
In 2013, FIRL began developing rugby league at junior level, holding coaching camps for young players and playing regional representative matches before selecting the first Italy U18 side that played Serbia last July.
The league kicked off in May this year with three teams – Torino XIII, Asti-based NW Roosters and Warriors – the latter a selection of players from Milan, Bergamo and Piacenza.
Although newly-formed as a club, Torino were undefeated, the tournament played over three weekends with each side facing the other in a festival format of 30-minute games.
In June, selected players took part in two elite camps with Italy national team coaches Paul Broadbent and Kelly Rolleston.
The build up to Saturday’s game saw an U18 State of Origin match played in Padova, Leoni Veneti defeating the Longobardi 48-28.
“FIRL is very happy with the first running of the U18 championship and we are all looking forward to seeing our best players challenge the expert Serbian side,” said Rolleston.
Last year Serbia U18 won 26-10 after leading 10-4 at the break.