Serbia are very different from other developing nations who play rugby league. Because in Serbia rugby league came first from 1953 to 1964 and then, because of lack of interest in that time for other nations, rugby union destroyed rugby league. Serbia is one of many nations making a big impression in Rugby League. Maybe not on the score board but in the development of them game in their country. When they decided to rebuild the game in 2000, they separated from rugby union and started with 2 clubs. Four years on, they now have 6 teams playing, and U19 team going to play overseas in other tournaments. Also throw in the National team participating in the Mediterranean Cup last year and this year and you could well say this developing country is making huge progress in rugby league.
This month Australian player and coach Troy Perkins will go to Serbia for a week and help train the national team, in what will be there first step in preparation for Victory Cup 04 and Mediterranean Cup 04. Last year they got there first major taste of International rugby league, playing against France, Lebanon and Morocco. Though Serbia conceded more than 100 points against France and Lebanon, they went down fighting 58-4 against Morocco scoring their only try of the tournament. But the tournament was great experience for the team, who were all made up of amateurs who have only been playing the game for four years.
Serbia has arranged to play against Scotland amateur in July in Serbia and their U18 against Scotland students; also they will play against Italy in Padova (Italy) and against Holland, all that in August. Serbian rugby League are also waiting on confirmation to play in the Victory Cup 2004. They have also contacted England National League Three club Essex eels and they are interested to come to Serbia at the start of 2005.
Unfortunately the big problem for Serbian Rugby League is the finance, the same problem most developing nations are having. In last years Mediterranean Cup, Serbia spent two days travelling on a bus to get to Lebanon for the tournament. Serbian Rugby League are finding it difficult to finance their trip to Holland and it?s a shame such a nation, who are making so much progress in rugby league, do not have any funding from the RLIF. With political contact between rugby and rugby league making obstruction, the sport community don't recognize rugby league as a sport and think it?s a part of rugby union. And because of this, Serbian Rugby League doesn?t get any money from the sport community.
With the main focus being Mediterranean Cup 04, and Serbian Rugby League still inexperience, they are now looking off shore for players who qualify to play for Siberia to bring more experience to the team and develop a larger player pool and International players for their nation. Any players who think they qualify should contact Serbian Rugby League immediately.
Overall this nation is making huge strides in the game, and should improve immensely on last years results. It also proves that International Rugby League is far from being dead.