Belgrade will again play host to the RLEF Under 16’s tournament in 2009, which will take place over five days in August; the Serbian capital having successfully staged it two years ago.
For the first time the competition will be split into a Cup and a Shield, a change that was agreed at the last RLEF board meeting prior to the World Club Challenge at Elland Road in March.
The division enables match ups of comparable standard between the competing nations and addresses potential concerns over duty of care to participants at an important age in their physical development.
England will be defending the European Cup they dramatically won 14-12 against favourites France last time out. The top seeds will be up against the French again and Wales as they seek to hold on to their crown.
In the newly instituted European Shield, Serbia will take on Scotland, Russia – who they memorably beat two years ago – and the Euro Celts, a composite side drawn from other developing nations who have been invited to send players.
The matches will be played over three rounds and tournament director Jovan Vujosevic is eagerly looking forward to the nations arriving in Eastern Europe.
“I hope that this tournament will continue to show the level of growth in demand for the sport throughout the continent at all age levels” he said.
“Getting top quality youngsters’ competing against each other at a representative level is key to their further development as players and people.”
“We also hope to showcase how we are continuing to grow as a rugby league nation both on and off the field” he added.
“We have much greater organizational experience now after staging this tournament two years ago and we are sure that all our guests will enjoy typical Serbian hospitality.”
“The stage is set for the next generation of stars to emerge, the stand out performer last time was Gregg McNally, who is currently the leading try scorer in the professional game in the UK with Whitehaven and is earmarked for Super League with Huddersfield.”
RLEF UNDER 16’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE:
Seed 4 Serbia
Seed 5 Scotland
Seed 6 Russia
Seed 7 Euro Celts
TUESDAY 18th AUGUST – Round 1
Serbia v Russia
Scotland v Euro Celts
THURSDAY 20th AUGUST – Round 2
Russia v Scotland
Euro Celts v Serbia
SATURDAY 22nd AUGUST – Round 3
Russia v Euro Celts
Serbia v Scotland
Meanwhile in Serbia, the Seventh State of Origin Cup saw the ‘Serbian Select’ defeat a ‘Belgrade Selection’ for the first time. In a match played at the SC INGE stadium in the capital, the Serbian Select – featuring players born outside the city and principally from clubs Podbara, Nis and Radnicki – beat the favourites 36-18. Their star performer was full back Alekasndar Sic who scored four tries in a sensational performance. The Belgrade Selection, made up of players born there was primarily based on representatives from Dorcol Spiders, Red Star and Belgrade University.