Polska Rugby XIII is targeting full government recognition in the first quarter of 2016 after a highly encouraging 2015. What will be called the ‘Polish Rugby League Federation’ has been made possible thanks to the significant progress the governing body has made following an effective development strategy.
There are now six active clubs, five of whom will be registered under Polish law by the end of January; Lodz Magpies – the nation’s first formed – and now Tygrysy Chojny-Dąbrowa, Tomaszów Mazowiecki Wild Bears, Skierniewice Executioners, Sparta Brzeziny and latest newcomers Stryków Rugby League.
“The new teams are a result of our campaign called ‘train rugby League in you town’,” said PRXIII president Lukasz Lucka, the plan also seeing a group of 10-12-years-olds taking part.
“We organised training, went in to schools, distributed posters, contacted local media and local governments, we used social media – everything to reach people who might be interested in playing the game. Lodz’s second club, Tygrysy, was established by someone who got involved in Polish rugby league thanks to the RLEF match official and coaching courses we hosted last spring. It’s a youth club for now, but we’ll see how we can grow it.”
Lucka, who originally introduced rugby league to Poland believing it to be the ideal sport to help disaffected youngsters in his hometown of Lodz, added: “It was a big effort to introduce the game to all the new places, especially as we didn’t know anyone in these towns before, but Polish Rugby League is now stronger than ever.
“We proved to ourselves that our grassroots development strategy is right and sticking to that, we can achieve more in following years. We’re also very grateful to the international rugby league community. People from many countries were open to give us advice and share their experience with us. It was priceless support.”
Poland recently played a ‘Reds vs Whites’ match, which was the first domestic game of rugby league in the country. Over 40 players participated in a match that was officiated by local officials.
“Now we’re starting preparations before a big year in 2016,” concluded Lucka. “We plan to kick off our domestic competition as well as play the first official game of the Polish national team. We’re strongly focused on strengthening existing teams and establishing new ones in other towns.”
On Boxing Day, youngster Mikolaj Oledski, who was born in Poland, is set to make his debut for Leeds Rhinos, having come through their Academy.