WATCH: Serbian Rugby League bids farewell to great
By Billy Painter
Last Updated: 07/07/20 4:59pm
Red Star Belgrade defeated Dorcol Tigers 38-6 to lift their third straight Serbian Cup at the weekend.
With Red Star's dominance in recent seasons, many will be unsurprised by the result - and instead it was a moment in the 69th minute that grabbed the attention of the locals and viewers watching the live stream around the world.
Sunday's final marked the last appearance for Serbian rugby league stalwart Dalibor Vukanovic - a player commonly known as 'Mr Rugby League of Serbia' due to his long-term commitment to the game in the Balkan nation.
As Red Star took an unassailable 38-0 lead and ensured they would be lifting the silverware come full-time - the Red Star players all paused during play moments later to ensure that the retiring Vukanovic was given a worthy send off.
Dorcol's player-coach collected his own kick-off to scoot over for a consolation try, with the Red Star players simply watching and applauding to give him his final moment of glory on the pitch. It was a moment that took everybody by surprise.
The scrum-half duly converted from in front of the posts, before leaving the pitch to a guard of honour from both sets of players - despite there still being just shy of 10 minutes remaining in the contest!
Vukanovic is recognised as a legend of Serbian rugby league in the nation, with his playing career spanning 21 years - taking him to the UK, France and Russia during that time.
A former captain of the of Serbia national team, he was declared the best player of the European Championship B competition in 2015, as the White Eagles topped their group ahead of Russia, Italy and Ukraine.
Prior to Red Star's rise in stature in the Serbian game - Vukanovic captained Dorcol throughout a decade of dominance - a period that saw the Tigers undefeated during that time.
The guard of honour and rapturous applause from the vociferous crowd in attendance indicated an appreciation and respect for one of Serbia's rugby league greats to bring down the curtain on an impressive and memorable career.
It was a fitting end to an era and special sporting moment in Belgrade - and one that encapsulated the ethos and spirit of rugby league.