Featuring fifteen teams from seven countries, the second Balkan Super League kicks off this weekend with a significant increase in interest. Over 300 players are expected to take part over the summer.
In the first season last year eight clubs participated, Serbian side Partizan defeating Belgrade rivals Red Star 32-26 in the Grand Final. This year a total of 15 teams will take part, in five groups of three, including rugby league debutants Albania and Montenegro who, together with Greece, will join sides from Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia Herzegovina. Interestingly, applications to join were also received from South Africa and Russia.
“We always planned to build the competition but this is a huge step in just one season,” commented BSL commissioner Dragan Pavlovic. It will be challenging as we are doubling the number of teams, but it is great to see how our sport can grow in this part of continent.”
The opening three games will be played this Sunday 18 March. Bulgarian side Locomotive will host defending champions Partizan in Sofia, while in Belgrade, Dorcol will take on Vitez from Bosnia Herzegovina and Radnicki Novi Beograd play the Bosnian debutants, Banja Luka Warriors.
The five groups of three are as follows:
Group A: Radnicki Novi Beograd (Serbia), Kadikoy Bulls (Turkey), Banja Luka Warriors (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
Group B: Partizan (Serbia), Lokomotiv (Bulgaria), Aris Eagles (Greece).
Group C: Radnicki Nis (Serbia), Attica Rhinos (Greece), Klubi Regbise Tirana (Albania).
Group D: Dorcol (Serbia), Vitez (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Juzna Regija (Montenegro).
Group E: Red Star (Serbia), Rhodes Knights (Greece), Bilgi Badgers (Turkey).