Following meetings in England in the run up to Christmas, Ukraine Rugby League has announced a revamp of its top competition which will see five regional Super League franchises put in place, allied to English clubs.
Transcarpathia Trinity, linked to Wakefield; Lviv Tigers allied to Castleford; Wests Knights, partnered by York; Kyiv Rhinos who will work with Leeds; and Easts Giants, supported by Huddersfield, will be the participants of the 2018 Joma Super Rugby League.
“This is a significant moment for Ukrainian Rugby League and the start of new historical stage of our development,” said UFRL president Artur Martyrosyan Jnr who led the negotiations, on his return to Kiev. “We are extremely grateful to all the partner clubs who have come on board to support us, as well as sponsors Joma, and their combined vision in seeing what we are trying to achieve. This is the perfect Christmas present for us and gives us a tremendous building block into 2018.”
Existing Ukrainian clubs RLC "KORZO" (Uzhgorod), RKLC "MNU" (Mukachevo) and RLC "LIONS" (Korolevo) will form Trinity; RC "SOKIL" (Lviv) will become the Tigers; RLC "RIVNE" (Rivne) and RLC "TEREN" (Ternopil) the Knights; local rivals RLC "KYIV" (Kyiv), RC "REBELS" (Kyiv) will join as the Rhinos, and defending champions RLC "LEGION XIII" (Kharkiv) and RLC "SARMAT" (Kramators`k) become the Giants.
Each franchise will have a fully-fledged structure mirroring their English counterparts with children's, youth and adult sections whilst the URL has also formed an association with Halifax-based Global Rugby League Academy to further opportunities for their student players - which will include specially designed training programmes and the opportunity to join English community clubs whilst studying at college or university - coaches and match officials.
“We are very serious about the prospects for Ukrainian Rugby League and now some of our goals have been achieved,” added Martyrosyan. “There is now a clear path of development for players of all ages and qualifications and for coaches and officials. We believe that it will not take long for the results to be seen.”
It is anticipated that the tie-up will also see Ukrainians as guests at Betfred Super League games during 2018.