Following meetings in England in the run up to Christmas, Ukraine Rugby League has announced a revamp of its top competition which will see five regional Super League franchises put in place, each allied to an English club. Those five – participants in the 2018 Joma Super Rugby League – will be as follows: Transcarpathia Trinity, linked to Wakefield; Lviv Tigers allied to Castleford; Wests Knights, partnered by York; Kyiv Rhinos who will work with Leeds; Easts Giants, supported by Huddersfield.
“This is a significant moment for Ukrainian Rugby League and the start of new historical stage of our development,” said UFRL president who led the negotiations, Artur Martyrosyan Jnr., on his return to Kiev.
“We are extremely grateful to all the partner clubs who have come on board to support us, and to our sponsors Joma. Their combined vision in seeing what we are trying to achieve has been the perfect Christmas present for us, giving us a tremendous building block into 2018.”
Under the new stucture, existing Ukrainian clubs RLC “KORZO” (Uzhgorod), RKLC “MNU” (Mukachevo) and RLC “LIONS” (Korolevo) will form Trinity; RC “SOKIL” (Lviv) will become the Tigers; RLC “RIVNE” (Rivne) and RLC “TEREN” (Ternopil) will be Wests Knights; local rivals RLC “KYIV” (Kyiv), RC “REBELS” (Kyiv) will be the Rhinos, while defending champions RLC “LEGION XIII” (Kharkiv) and RLC “SARMAT” (Kramators`k) will be Easts Giants. Each franchise will have a fully-fledged structure mirroring their English counterparts, with children’s, youth and adult sections.
The URL has also formed an association with Halifax-based Global Rugby League Academy to further opportunities for their student players, coaches and match officials. These will include specially designed training programmes, and the opportunity for students to join English community clubs whilst studying at college or university.
“We are very serious about the prospects for Ukrainian Rugby League and now some of our goals have been achieved,” added Martyrosyan. “There is now a clear path of development for players of all ages and qualifications, and for coaches and officials. We believe that it will not take long before positive results become visible.”
It is anticipated also, that these new tie-ups with UK clubs will see Ukrainians attending Betfred Super League games as guests, during 2018.