After a long period of lockdowns and restrictions caused by the pandemic, rugby league returned to Poland at the weekend with a match between Lodz Magpies (Sroki Łódź) and Czechia side Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels, as part of the Magpies 10-year anniversary celebrations.
The visitors ran out 56-4 winners but the score was secondary to the recommencement and the landmark according to Krzysztof Tonn, vice president of the Magpies. “The game was a big success,” he said. “Despite the result, the local players were happy and encouraged to play more games against strong opposition.
“It was not easy to play a first 13-a-side game after the long series of Covid-19 lockdowns. It was a bit of a challenge both on and off the pitch but now everybody feels even more motivated for the hard work we need to put in training and development.
“There are more community events upcoming later this season and everyone interested should follow the club on social media to be up to date with all the news,” he added. “Since 2011 Sroki Lodz has been training new rugby league players. In the game with the Mad Squirrels we had many new people and this was a very good opportunity for them to play for the first time and get invaluable experience before our domestic competition begins. We are very grateful to our opponents that they came to Poland and played against us.
“Mad Squirrels Vrchalbi is an outstanding team from a more developed rugby league country. Our two clubs have cooperated for a number of years and it’s always a great opportunity to learn from each other. Having such a club within driving distance really helps and we already looking forward to a rematch in Czechia. It was a great experience and fun for all of the people involved, not only the players.”
“The Magpies set a great example for everyone in Poland,” confirmed Lukasz Lucka, president of Poland Rugby XIII. “They prove that it’s possible to consistently build a rugby league club with a solid base even against all the odds.”