The GB Student Pioneers have departed for Bosnia today, on a 10-day tour consisting of two games against a Bosnia RL XII and a 9s tournament.
The ground breaking side, made up of 20 players from 17 universities, will also spend their time spreading the word in local schools, clubs and engaging with the media, to raise the profile of the sport in the country.
The first two days will be spent in Vitez, with remainder of the tour in Banja Luka.
Keith Sandhu, University of Leeds head coach and Pioneers team manager said, “We are looking forward to facing the Bosnians, with the help of Serbia developing the game there, they pose a physical challenge. More importantly, though, this is about helping to develop rugby league in a fledgling nation, which is our remit.”
Tour manager, Steve Curtis from the University of Hull added, “It should be an interesting tour, the domestic league there has developed fantastically. We are delighted that we can provide some international opposition.”
The GB Pioneers were formed in 2005 with the aim of traveling to new up and coming countries, visiting Estonia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Ukraine, Norway, Kazakhstan, Greece, Poland, Norway, Morocco and Ghana to date.
Squad members are selected as best ambassadors for their university, country and sport. Criteria considers not only their ability to play the game to a very high standard but that they must have a proven track record of undertaking rugby league development activity.
Jovan Vujosevic, Central & Eastern Europe Regional Director of the Rugby League European Federation commented, “This is big step in the development of the game in Bosnia and Herzegovina, not least because the tour can open doors for recognition of the sport. This will be the first-ever British tour to Bosnia in either code of rugby and we are very proud of that.
“This can also help develop other Balkan nations like Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Bulgaria to join Serbia, Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
GB STUDENT PIONEERS SQUAD
Will Roper, Liverpool John Moores
Jimmy Rodger, Bradford University
Joe Kenny, Durham University
Emmo Allen, St Mary’s
Samuel Baker, Swansea University
Jed Mawdsey, Newcastle University
Liam Jackson, Loughborough University
Callum Williamson, Swansea University
James Deighton, Hull University
Dan Johnson, Sheffield University
Aaron Levy, Newcastle University
Ben Smith, Leeds University
David O’Conner, Warwick University
Liam Curnow, Cardiff Metropolitan
Jonny Wheeler, Bath University
Leo Bentley, Oxford University
David Parkin, Bath University
Oliver Morgan, Aberystwyth University
David Harrison, Bristol University
Dominic Bryan, Manchester Metropolitan
Tour manager- Steve Curtis
Team manager- Keith Sandhu
Head coach- Richard Tate
Assistant coach- Ollie O’Mara
Physio- Matt Duke
Referee- Richard Squires