The Serbian Rugby League Federation is to further enhance its links with the English regions by signing a three-year deal with the Yorkshire Men’s League, as part of the Rugby Football League’s Lionhearts programme.
The Lionhearts will travel to Belgrade in 2018 and 2020, with a Serbian select touring Yorkshire in 2019 for the first time.
SRLF general secretary, Slobodan Manak commented: “We are very excited and want to thank both the RFL and RLEF for enabling this long term association. For the past few years matches between Serbia and the English Lionhearts have always been very exciting to watch and good preparation for our players – from which they have learned and developed.
“This is a step forward because it is the first time we plan to come to England and we are all very thrilled at the prospect.”
“The Yorkshire Men’s League is delighted to be entering into such a partnership,” said programme manager Chris Spurr. “This formal agreement builds on previous tours, coaching and match official development programmes with Serbia. We look forward to visiting the beautiful city of Belgrade in 2018.”
Two games will be played in the Serbian capital, on 22 and 24 June. In 2016, Serbia narrowly went down 16-14 at home to the YML Lionhearts.
Although the Lionhearts have been touring Europe for over a decade, two years ago the RLEF and RFL agreed to a more strategic direction including three-year, reciprocal agreements to ensure continuity and advance planning, and targeting the nations at European Championship B level.
Discussions are ongoing between other RFL regions and Russia and Italy to agree similar partnerships.