Competitive rugby league was played by an Albanian team for the first time last weekend when RLC Tirana made their debut in the Balkan Super League. They travelled to Serbia to face Radnicki Nis, putting in a highly creditable performance, going down 38-0 in front of a crowd of over 500.
Arnaldo Telo played on the wing for Tirana and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“First of all, the hospitality shown by the Radnicki Nis club and the Serbian authorities – the Serbian federation and police – was amazing,” he said. “We appreciate it very much.
“This was our first rugby league match and to play against a more experienced team was very useful, now we can see our weaknesses and strengths. The game was very physical, the first five minutes was the most difficult part for us because we didn’t know what to expect from Radnicki and ourselves.
“But then we realised that we were capable of doing some very positive things. Our plan was to keep it simple, without trying to overdo anything, and to avoid complicated handling skills. We had done our homework, knowing that best players of Radnicki were their numbers six and seven and we tried to stop them, but it was difficult for us to organise defence on the wings as we have focused on defending the middle of the park first.”
After conceding two early tries to Radnicki winger Tihomir Stamenkovic the visitors showed up particularly well in the first half, going into the break 14-0 down, after Stefan Jovanovic also crossed.
On a couple of occasions Tirana came close to scoring, the hosts replying with a brace of tries in five minutes for full back Aleksandar Pavlovic which sealed their victory.