Balkan Super League gets underway with 12 clubs

James Gordon
Partizan Belgrade open Balkan Super League 2023 season

Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade kicked off the new Balkan Super League season, which features 12 clubs from six nations.

Partizan are one of four Serbian clubs participating in the competition, which is in its seventh season.

City rivals Red Star Belgrade are joined by fellow Serbians Radnicki Nis in Division 1, alongside Arsenal Tivat of Montenegro, Locomotive Sofia from Bulgaria and AEK Athens of Greece.

In Division 2 North, Zemun Belgrade (Serbia), Valiacite Pernik (Bulgaria) and Bilgi Badgers (Turkey) will face each other, and in the South, Tirana (Albania), Morava Cheetahs Leskovac (Serbia) and Mornar Bar (Montenegro) go face to face.

Dragan Pavlovic, director of the Balkan Super League, noted: “The 2023 season will be very interesting, Red Star and Partisan will start as favourites but clubs from Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Turkey are constantly improving.

“We are glad that after the Covid pandemic and the interruption of almost three years, a Greek team is back this gives added value and strengthens our competition because Greece has an excellent competition and is also the leader in the Balkans in terms of domestic development.”

Belgrade dominance of Balkan Super League

Serbia is the most progressive and developing rugby league nation in Europe, outside of the UK and France. The Balkan Super League runs alongside their domestic competition.

Partizan opened the season with a narrow 26-20 win over Radnicki Nis.

Pavlovic added: “It was a great way to kick off the season, a truly competitive game with Partizan holding on against a young side from Nis. The sport in this region is really starting to make inroads.”

This weekend, Radnicki Nis will travel to Tivat to take on Montenegro’s best club side Arsenal, who won their domestic championship finishing ahead of Mornar (Bar) and Boka (Herceg Novi).

The Balkan Super League Grand Final will be in mid-June 2023.

The current champions are Red Star Belgrade, who won it for the second successive year in 2022, beating Partizan 24-18 in the Grand Final.

They have won four of the last five seasons, with Partizan breaking that trend in 2020. Partizan also won the inaugural competition in 2017.

Clubs from 11 different countries can participate in the Balkan Super League, including Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Slovenia. A team from Italy has also participated in the past.

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