3 Oct 2011

Serbia and Ukraine strengthened their ties over the weekend with the first match between clubs from the respective nations on Sunday, while Hungary's first club, the Danube Pirates, took on a Belgrade XIII a day earlier in a madcap rugby league weekend in Serbia, which also featured a full internatioal and the launch of the Serbian under-18 championship.

Ukrainan champions Legion XIII played a friendly game against Red Star Belgrade on Sunday, two days after the countries’ national teams had squared off. The game was played on the FC Red Star Marakana stadium academy field, with the powerful Eastern European champions proving far too strong for the side that finished fourth in the Serbian league this year. Winger Oleksandr Korobov netted five tries to go with the one he scored in Ukraine’s 10-4 defeat to Serbia.

Zeljko Delic, Red Star director, was thrilled with the contest despite the lopsided scoreline: “This is a great game for Red Star, we got a chance to play against a champion team. The result wasn’t important on this stage for us, because Red Star is rebuilding our team this season and we have lot of young lads in the team. In 2010 we were the second best team in Serbia, this season we were fourth, but we formed the Red Star Academy and now have a lot of new young players [coming through the system].“

On the Saturday, Belgrade XIII crushed the visiting Magyars 68-10, wiht the aptly named Vladan Kikanovic leading the scoring with eight goals and three tries. Belgrade RL Federation president Radoslav Novakiovic preferred to dwell on the significance of the match in developemtn terms: “If we put aside the result, this was great game for the future of the rugby league development in this area. We had clash between the first ever Hungarian rugby league club and one Serbian selection refereed by Ukrainian match official Denys Cherniev."