A significant weekend of rugby league in Norway illustrates the surge League is making in that country. On Saturday, South West sides Porsgunn Pirates and Sandnes Raiders met in the first Championship game of the season, with Pirates recording a 48-6 victory in front of a healthy crowd.
On Sunday the nation’s new U19s played their inaugural international in Nannestad, against Serbia’s U18s. The visitors, led by captain Vladimir Milutinović – who scored six tries and kicked five goals for 34-point haul – proved too strong for the young Norwegians, recording a 54-12 win.
Håvard Hansen scored the first-ever try for Norway’s junior team. Serbia’s Milutinović was awarded the Warren Heilig trophy for man-of-the-match, which was presented by Heilig himself, who had flown in from Brisbane for the occasion. As the founder of Norwegian rugby League, it was his vision and determination from 2009 that set the foundations.
“Norway has emerged with a squad of committed young players who want more, at both club and national level,” said RLN president Lee Johnson, reflecting on an historic start to the season. “Our national coaches and I held talks with our Serbian counterparts. It seems we share the same problems and strengths, in growing the sport in our respective countries, and we also discovered there is a town in Serbia that is twinned with one in northern Norway where we have a number of rugby league players.
“Overall this was a great first international game for us and we have opened talks to play more.”
The next round of the championship takes plaace on Saturday 13th May, when powerhouses Trondheim and Oslo face off.