Ukraine set to play first international match since war began

UKRAINE are to play their first Rugby League matches since Russia’s invasion of the country last year.

Despite the ongoing conflict, their men’s team will travel to Greece this weekend to play two internationals.

They will face the Greeks, who reached last year’s World Cup final 16, in Goudi on Saturday (October 28) and in Aspropyrgos the following day, with the winners on aggregate to be awarded the Unity Cup.

While Ukraine’s Under-19s competed in a European Championship last autumn, these will be their first senior matches since 2021.

“This is the first tournament for the Ukraine men’s senior team after the full-scale military aggression of Russia,” said Ukraine’s head coach, Artur Martirosyan.

“Many Ukrainian players, coaches and referees have been in the army defending freedom and independence. Unfortunately, we have losses among our players. 

“Because of this, we opened a fundraiser for the families of our fallen athletes, which will end after the tournament in Greece.

“Ukraine Rugby League is very grateful for the organisation of this Unity Cup. Our players have really missed international Rugby League and are looking forward to this series.”

Greece head coach Steve Georgallis paid tribute to the tourists, saying: “Ukraine have had to overcome enormous adversity to make these matches a reality.”

World ranking points will be up for grabs in the fixture, with Ukraine currently 28th in the world and Greece 16th.