The second Balkan Super League kicks off over the weekend with a significant increase in interest. A total of 15 teams took part in five groups of three, including participation from rugby league debutants Albania and Montenegro, together with Greece, joining sides from Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia Herzegovina. Applications were also received from South Africa and Russia.
In the first season last year eight clubs participated, Serbian side Partizan defeating Belgrade rivals Red Star 32-26 in the Grand Final.
BSL commissioner Dragan Pavlovic commented: “We planned to build the competition but this is a huge step in just one season. It will be challenging while doubling the number of teams, but it is great to see how our sport can grow in this part of continent.” Over 300 players are expected to take part over the summer.
The opening three games were played on Sunday, with Bulgarian side Locomotive hosting defending champions Partizan in Sofia. In Belgrade, Dorcol took on Vitez from Bosnia Herzegovina, while Radnicki Novi Beograd played Bosnian debutants Banja Luka Warriors.
Group A: Radnicki Novi Beograd (Serbia), Kadikoy Bulls (Turkey), Banja Luka Warriors (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
Group B: Partizan (Serbia), Lokomotiv (Bulgaria), Aris Eagles (Greece).
Group C: Radnicki Nis (Serbia), Attica Rhinos (Greece), Klubi Regbise Tirana (Albania).
Group D: Dorcol (Serbia), Vitez (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Juzna Regija (Montenegro).
Group E: Red Star (Serbia), Rhodes Knights (Greece), Bilgi Badgers (Turkey).