The 20th Serbian domestic campaign got underway with the now traditional curtain-raiser, the annual Risman Cup challenge match, at the Skolarac stadium in Ub. Team Bev – the Serbian U21s – defeated Team John, their national U19s, 28-16; Valentino Milovanović with two of the victor’s five tries.
The match, named after the famous rugby league family who originally came from Lithuania, was the eighth in the series and proved to be good preparation for the Serbia U19 team, who will play in the U19 European Championship later this year in Italy, full back Veljko Stalević among their try scorers.
The game was the highlight of an afternoon that also included a festival which saw over 100 young boys and girls, from age U12 upwards take part, many of whom had played in the third winter league tournament.
Next up is the semi final of the Serbian Super Cup, which will see Partizan and Radnicki Nis meet at FC Heroj Polet for the right to face Red Star, whilst the defending champions take on returning side Tashmajdan Tigers in a friendly fixture at Stadium Ada Ciganlija.
“Ahead of the semi final, the two team’s U14s will meet in another pioneering game,” said Dragan Pavlović, Serbian director in charge of domestic competition. “This season our focus is on developing domestic competitions and enhancing youth categories, the women’s game and the Balkan Super League.”
As well as the Super Cup, the Serbian Cup will feature: Dorcol, Belgrade YRLC, Partizan, Radnički Belgrade, CDS Paraćin, Radnički Niš, Tashmaidan Tigers, Red Star and Morava Cheetahs, whilst the Championship will include ten sides split into a four team Super League, ‘B’ League and a North and South Group – which will also include Lokomotiv Sofia from Bulgaria.
In total, 41 fixtures will be played in the Championship, including a Magic Round when all the clubs will come together in one venue.
Pavlović added: “Six Serbian trams will play in the Balkan SL year – Red Star, Partizan, Radnički Niš, Belgrade YRLC, CDS Paraćin and Dorćol – along with five clubs from other countries: South Region Bar from Montenegro, Borac Banjaluka of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valjacite Pernik and Lokomotive Sofia from Bulgaria, and Turkey’s Ankara Phrigians. For the first time it will be a straight knock-out.
“That is just seniors, in addition, we have six clubs in U19 competition as well as U16s and U14s playing tournaments.”