By Phil Caplan, Date:9/7/13
A Belgrade Select team won the third annual Czech Rugby League International 9s tournament in Pardubice. The Serbians defeated an impressive Hungary XIII in the final match of the day to remain undefeated and go one better than their previous participation in the event in 2011, when they were defeated by Lebanonâ€™s LAU in the final.
Belgradeâ€™s Vladan Kikanovic was named â€˜Player of the Tournamentâ€™, while the Serbianâ€™s selected Chrudim-Pardubice captain, Marek Pluhar, as the outstanding Czech player on the day. Kikanovic, the architect of much of the Serbian teamâ€™s penetrative attack, was delighted with his teamâ€™s performance and enthusiastic about their participation. â€œWe were very happy to come to Pardubice and to be a part of this tournament and we have enjoyed ourselves here a lot,â€ he said. The Belgrade teamâ€™s performance was even more impressive considering that they travelled from Serbia to the Czech Republic only the night before by coach â€“ a 13 hour trip – and had very little sleep in the lead-up.
CZRLA Development Manager, Andy Mulhall was impressed with all the teams participating and satisfied that the staging of the 9s was significant not just for the development of the sport in the Czech Republic, but in central Europe generally.
â€œHaving both a Belgrade selection and a Hungarian team participate has been great experience for the local players, all of whom were young guys not selected in the Czech national team train-on squad,â€ he noted.
â€œIt was a worthwhile experience for the travelling teams too. I expected the Belgrade team to set a high standard in 9s rugby league, but I was happy with how the two Czech teams performed against them and was really impressed with the improvement in the standard of the Hungarian players after having coached against them with the Czech national team in both 2011 and â€˜12.
â€œThey looked far more like a rugby league team today – albeit a 9s rugby league team – with their attack fluid and their defence much more solid than I had previously witnessed. Balint Mezes and others involved in developing the sport in Hungary seem to be doing all the right things.â€œ
He added, â€œCooperation between clubs and countries developing rugby league in this part of the world is invaluable in growing the game and tournaments like this help to foster relationships that ensure mutual support and interaction. We need to encourage each other and offer support wherever possible, and while the action on the field was great entertainment, the partnerships developed off it will go a long way to ensuring tournaments like this one develop elsewhere, faciliate international competition between developing rugby league nations, and act as complements to fostering domestic competitions as well as elite national team selections.â€œ
Next year the competition hopes to expand to include teams from Germany and Poland.
2013 CZRLA International 9s Tournament results
Hungary 16 – 4 Hradec Kralove/Vrchlabi
Belgrade Select 14 – 0 Chrudim/Pardubice
Hungary 18 – 0 Chrudim/Pardubice
Belgrade Select 30 – 4 Hradec Kralove/Vrchlabi
Chrudim/Pardubice 4 – 4 Hradec Kralove/Vrchlabi
Belgrade Select 30 – 6 Hungary