USA Young Hawks to make debut in Rugby League U19s Championship in Belgrade

USA‘s Young Hawks will make their debut in the 2024 European Rugby League U19s Championship which will be staged in Belgrade, Serbia, with games to be played on Sunday 14, Wednesday 17 and Saturday 20 July.

 

Six nations will compete, the others being holders England who won the tournament in 2022 in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy; France the inaugural winners in 2018 when the competition was also staged in Belgrade; Scotland, Ukraine and Serbia.

 

In the opening round of matches, Serbia will face Ukraine and Scotland will meet USA. The winners will face England and France in the semi-finals with the two losers meeting to determine the 5th/6th placing, which may be used to determine future qualifiers for the next tournament in 2026.

 

The losing semi-finalists will meet the team that they have not played, also in a grading game.

 

Newly appointed USARL chair, Matt Goschnick, commented: “None of this would have been possible without the relentless dedication, passion, and support of our volunteers which enabled us to establish the USA Youth National Programme.

 

“Sending the inaugural USA U19 Youth team to the European Championship is a pivotal milestone and an investment in our sport’s long-term future. This initiative provides opportunities and pathways for our youth participants to develop and grow, and our inclusion in the event will only strengthen our domestic competitions.”

 

Goschnick added: “The selection process for the touring team drew significant interest, with over 50 players participating in try outs. This marks the first time in our history that a clear pathway has been established for our junior participants to represent their country, demonstrating our commitment to creating opportunities for those involved in the sport. The European Championship will be a valuable test in the early stages of our development model, and an experience many players haven’t had, regardless of the results.”

 

Additionally, England will face a Serbia U21s team on the first day of competition to help expose the Serbs to more international games, and European Rugby League will run a week-long camp for an eight-person match officials squad which will contain representatives from across the continent.

 

ERL will also lead training courses for coaches and MOs in the region thanks to investment from the Belgrade municipality into the event. It is also expected that the various embassies will engage with their teams during their time in Belgrade.

 

ERL general manager, David Butler, said: “We’re very grateful to the Serbian Rugby League Federation for putting together such a comprehensive package for the 2024 European Rugby League U19s Championship and we’re delighted that the event will be returning to Belgrade.

 

“The last one proved to be a true celebration of rugby league and created a respect and friendship between the competing nations that I am sure will continue. We’re very pleased to be welcoming the USA to their first youth competition and are glad that despite all the challenges they face, Ukraine remain committed to the tournament.

 

“It is also encouraging to see that already this year Czechia and Norway have played U19s internationals and Ireland and Wales continue to operate age-grade teams at this level, and we look forward to hopefully welcoming them to future editions of the Championship.”