The team from Lisburn who took part in the tour to Serbia in May.
AFTER a long year of organisation and fundraising, 24 players and officials from Lisburn RFC travelled to Novi Sad, Serbia for their tour in May, for the club's first foreign tour for a number of years.
The journey, took the team by air to Budapest, Hungary and then on the long coach journey to Novi Sad, passing through the EU border in to Serbia.
The Luka Marin Memorial tournament attracts Rugby teams from all over the Balkan region all of whom were vying to win the coveted trophy and the I,000 Euro prize. Lisburn RFC was to play in the opening game of the tournament against the host side Vojodina RFC, at the Veternik Stadium. As it turned out the stadium was packed with the local supporters, adding just that little bit more pressure to the guys.
Lisburn's performance was better than expected and the local side were beaten 41 points to nil despite their valiant efforts. Try scorers were Philip Jefferson (Capt.) 2, Stuart Barron 1, Ryan Hill 1, Andrew Jamison 1, Andrew Gibb 1, David Shepherd 1, conversions were kicked by out half Peter Morris 2, and Ryan Hill 1.
The confidence was high in the Lisburn camp, and despite an arduous first game in the 30 degree heat, Lisburn were ready to take on the Serbian National representative team.
This the second game, of the day would qualify Lisburn for the tournament final. Serbia were ranked 64th in the IRB world rankings at the time the tournament was played, so despite the confidence of players, the coaching staff knew this would be a big game.
In addition, the stadium became more crowded as the local support came out to watch their National side play this unknown Junior Club from Ulster.
In the end the Serbian side were outclassed by the skill and fitness levels of the Lisburn men and those hours on the training fteld pre tournament paid off, with a result to be proud of, Lisburn winning 36-7.
Try scorers were:- S Barron 2, Andrew Jamison 1, Philip Jefferson 1, Ryan Hill 1. Conversions: - Peter Morris 2, Ryan Hill 1, Sam McCourt 1.Penalties:- Peter Morris 1. The Luka Marin Tournament final was again held at Veternik Stadium, and was to be against a side from Belgrade, Pobednik Rugby Club.
The tour coach had an opportunity of watching this side play early on in the tournament, and despite already beating the Serbian National side, he was under no illusion that this would be an easy game.
Pobednik are the dominant side in the Balkans having not lost a game in their history.
The match was one of the toughest contests that the Lisburn players have had in recent times, but despite this the superior skills and discipline of the Lisburn squad paid off. Tries were scored by Noel Hooke and Ryan Hill, with superb kicking from Peter Morris. The team again dominated and won 18-13 sealing the competition, Trophy and 1,000 Euro prize.
After the match the team travelled to the tournament gala dinner and award ceremony, at a nearby venue.
The tournament trophy was collected by the Tour Captain Philip Jefferson, and Chairman Colin Watson.
On top of this Lisburn's veteran star Richard Dawson won the man of the tournament.
Lisburn Rugby Club would like to thank the following Tour Sponsors, Lighstep, NI Body Guard Surveillance and Survival Service, Daltons, and Radius Architectural Roofing, In addition they would like to thank Gavyn at Selective Travel Management for looking after them.