The participating nations have been confirmed for the U19s European Championships, which will be held in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy between 1-11 September.
France will be aiming to defend their 2018 title, with England, Ireland, Italy, Serbia, Scotland and Wales also set to compete and, following negotiations with their Ministry of Sport, Ukraine will also take their place in the tournament.
“At this difficult time for Ukraine, the Ukrainian Federation of Rugby League and Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine – together with European Rugby League and our friends from around the world – have come together to make it possible for us to compete,” said Artur Martyrosian, president of the UFRL. “We will continue the preparation of our team over the next few months and we plan to make Ukraine and the global game of rugby league proud of our participation in the tournament.”
As the country continues to struggle with the impact of the Russian invasion, the UFRL is searching for funds for the tournament and is partnering with European Rugby League and UK-based charity Rugby League Cares, who are providing a fundraising platform to allow fans around the world to donate. An initial target of £30,000 / €35,000 has been set to cover the cost of transport, accommodation, kit and equipment, and preparation time.
“Rugby League Cares is a long established and trusted independent charity and we are delighted that we are able to support the Ukrainian Federation of Rugby League’s plans to take part in the U19s European Championship,” noted RLC head, Chris Rostron.
“We have seen the devastation and life changing effects that the ongoing war has caused to the lives of civilians there. We know that sport brings hope and we are honoured to be playing our part in bringing that to the players involved and keeping the rugby league’s flag flying in Ukraine during this very difficult time. I encourage everyone around the world who loves sport to play their part and make a donation in support of this immensely worthy cause.”
The U19s Championship, which has been almost three years in the making due to the global pandemic, has taken on a new meaning for hosts Italy who will use the event as a further catalyst for their domestic activity.
“I’d like to thank our board for their commitment to the tournament and their patience over the last two years and for managing the postponements so well,” said Orazio D’Arro, president of the Federazione Italiana Rugby League. “We are delighted to be hosting this prestigious event and to be able to showcase the country and Italian Rugby League to our colleagues in Europe. We especially welcome our friends from the Ukraine who are going through so much at the moment. We’ll be using the tournament as a springboard to rejuvenate rugby league in Italy after the pandemic and look forward to an amazing event.”