The Czech Rugby League Association has put junior development as a priority and is gearing up for a forthcoming U20 international against an England Colleges team, ahead of full internationals at home to Sweden on 25th July and Belgium in early October.
CZRLA director Jaroslav Bžoch, commented, “The standards are growing and the players improving faster than previously because of the Euro-backed coaching courses we have been a part of. Numbers are also on the increase, we have five junior teams and have also played the first 9’s tournament in our history, hosted by the Mad Squirrels Vrchlabi, with another three tournaments in different cities to come.
“The biggest challenge for us is to manage this growth properly and we also need to spread the sport to other big cities,” he added.
Hosts Mad Squirrels Vrchlabi are the inaugural Czech U18 champions after emerging victorious from the first domestic Junior championship, defeating Krupka Dragons RLC in the final, with Jakub Hurdlik and Lukas Mejvald the standout players. Slavia Hradec Kralove RLC finished third under the guidance of Czech men’s national team coach Ladislav Cintler.
Vrchlabi coach and tournament organizer David Lahr said, “This is something the Czech Board has dreamed of for years, so to make it a reality is very rewarding.”
Prague Riverside Sharks were crowned Czech U15 champions after defeating the Mad Squirrels in their final. Sharks dominated the tournament with Tom Sellers and Sam Roberts scoring five tries a-piece. Lokomotiva Beroun finished a creditable third in their first outing at this age group. Sharks coach Paul Monteiro noted, “The standard was a lot higher than I was expecting.”
U20’s national team coach Antonin Berk was in Vrchlabi scouting for young talent and acknowledged, “This tournament has kick-started a very exciting summer for junior rugby league in the Czech Republic which should really help develop and improve our young players. Next year we have plans for a bigger Junior Championship played on a home and away basis.”