The UK’s Parliamentary Rugby League Group has praised those involved in the governing bodies of Ukraine, Russia and Serbia for playing and hosting a match despite a background of political tension.
The game, a Rugby League European Championship B fixture, is taking place in Belgrade on 4 July and sees the sides battle for a place in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup European qualifying competition.
A Motion has been tabled in the House of Commons by the Group’s Chairman, Leeds North West MP, Greg Mulholland MP who said: “it is great to hear that a rugby league match between Ukraine and Russia is taking place. Sport is one of the few areas over which politicians of all backgrounds come together. Rugby league has a long and proud tradition of binding communities and bringing nations together and there is no better way to continue that legacy than through this forthcoming match. All in the game are grateful to those playing for their spirit, and to the Serbian Rugby League Federation for hosting the match.”
Ukraine RL federation president Artur Martyrosyan commented, “Ukrainians and Russians are brotherly, friendly people. What is happening between the leadership of the nations defies explanation. We all hope that the situation will improve soon and that we will once more be able to play rugby league against each other in our own countries. In the meantime, we wish to extend our thanks to our Serbian friends who have stepped in as hosts.
“Let us hope that this show of unity between our three federations will be a worthy example for others. Sport has always united, and when a sport as hard as rugby league serves to bring people together, the message is all that stronger.”
The full text of the Motion:
EDM 227: International rugby league match between Russia and Ukraine
That this House welcomes news of the international rugby league game between Ukraine and Russia taking place on 4 July 2015 in Serbia; is grateful to the Serbian Rugby League Foundation for hosting the game; believes sport is above national differences; looks forward to the day when the two countries can play one another once more in their home countries; considers those involved as displaying values typical of rugby league’s long and proud tradition of binding communities and nations together; congratulates all involved for going ahead with the game despite circumstances; and wishes both teams and hosts well in the game.