The Rise of Rugby League in Poland

By Daniel Andruczyk

Attempts to form Rugby League in Poland have had their ups and down over the last couple years. However finally the the sport has found its advocates and supporters not only overseas but in Poland itself.

Łukasz Łucka (pr. W-oo-ka-sh W-oo-ts-ka), has set up the first ever Rugby League club in Poland. Łukasz lives in the central city of Łόdź (pr. W-oo-j). Łόdź used to be a textile powerhouse, a city that rivalled Manchester, but under communism and since the fall of Communism had the industry collapse. In recent years the city has started to re-invent itself and many large companies are now setting up shop in Łόdź. However there still is an issue with many of the youth not being employed and not having anything to do.

Enter Rugby League and Łukasz

After looking for several years for a sport that could be a focus for the youth, he stumbled upon Rugby League on the Internet in 2011. After a quick search he found that the sport did not exist at all in Poland, however there were attempts by Daniel Andruczyk in Australia to try and get the sport into the Polish community. Łukasz contacted Daniel and the two quickly formed a strong partnership to try and set up the sport formally in Poland.

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Lukasz during the town meeting explaining the Club to potential new recruits (Photo: Daniel Andruczyk)

In the first few months Łukasz was able to have the first ever Rugby League club in Poland officially, registered and recognised by the Mayor and Council of Łόdź. The club is officially known as the Łόdzki Klub Rugby XIII, or in English Lodz Rugby League Football Club. The short name that the club has adopted is the Łόdź Magpies with the Magpie being one of the more common birds in the area and also it can help to form future links with overseas teams with a similar moniker.

Łukasz has started training sessions with players where they can. It’s been hard to get free fields from soccer teams and Rugby Union teams. Also starting a new sport from scratch means that the basics like playing gear are nonexistent and its next to impossible to get them in the country and expensive to get it from overseas. This is where Daniel was able to come in and help out. Using a few contacts through his dealings in Rugby League over the years Daniel was able to secure 4 playing Kits for the Club, this also means that new clubs will have access to shirts as well. Daniel was also able to secure balls and kicking tees for club.

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Daniel Andruczyk doing a coaching session with the club. (Photo :Adrian Czerski)

Help from Outside

In September Daniel travelled to Łόdź to meet Łukasz and the club members as well as do some promotion work and training sessions with them. The first day of the visit saw a city meeting to promote the game. Daniel talked about the history of the sport and the main differences between it and its counterpart rugby union. Łukasz then explained his motives for the sport and what he hopes to achieve.

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Daniel explaining some more of the Rugby League techniques (Photo: Adrian Czerski)

The next day saw Daniel and Łukasz have a very productive meeting with the RLEF’s Danny Kazandjian and Jovan Vujosevic to see exactly what needs to be done to have the sport officially be recognised by the RLEF/RLIF. From there a training session for several hours was held. A great turnout of 25 new players was there. Most had been at the meeting and decided to give the sport a go. After going over some of the basics and a few drills to show the fundamentals of the sport a 9’s game was played between the players. All enjoyed playing the sport and were keen to continue with it. Since that session there are now over 20 players that are regularly turning up to training.

On another positive side, there was interest from Local media. Radio Łόdź came out and also Moje Miasto Łόdź which is a local internet news service. They did interviews with Łukasz and Daniel and an article can be found here.

So What is Next?

There are two most fundamental things that need to happen now for the Club and sport. First is to get proper training in there, as the club is doing its best it really needs to get some professional coaching in there to get the players up to speed. Secondly a proper game against an opponent needs to happen. Though there are no other clubs in existence yet the club is looking at teams from outside Poland to be opponents and do training weekends.

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Some of the action from the players during the coaching session (Photo: Adrian Czerski)

Further down the track, there are plans to set up new clubs. For Rugby League to be recognised as an official sport in Poland it needs a minimum of three clubs. The idea is to set these up in the Łόdź area, to target the smaller towns where the sport can be used as a focus for the community. The decision not to look for Rugby Union players and to grow Rugby League players from scratch has been made. Once the clubs are established a constitution for Polish Rugby League will be drawn up. Once this passes the Polish Government and EU regulations Poland will be up for consideration by the European Federation for observer status. The first ever international involving Poland as a Nation in Rugby league is also a possibility on the cards, but this would be for next year. It will actually be very important who the opponents will be to help promote the sport.

Overall the future looks bright for Poland Rugby League, it has a group of young energetic people behind it. With a strong group inside and help from outside, then the possibilities of Poland in the next year look good.

If there is anyone that want to offer their help for the Łukasz and the Łόdź Magpies then you can contact Łukasz on lukaszlucka@gmail.com or Daniel on daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com .

You can also follow the Lodz Magpies on:

Lodz Magpies Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LodzMagpies/ (or @LodzMagpies)

Lodz Magpies Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lodz-Magpies-Lodz-Rugby-League-Football-Club/130337123725856

Polish Rugby League Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=112627803172

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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48 Responses to “The Rise of Rugby League in Poland”

  1. dragons4eva says:

    WOW…well done Dan! Seems that your Polish and RL connections have come in handy! 😉

    But seriously well done. Seems that there has been a lot of progress done and you have carefully tried to focus your goals specifically.

    Just a few questions.

    1. there seems to be a few females at the meeting. Were they just friends who tagged along or is it possible that there could be a female Polish team as well?
    2. How did you get RL focused players only instead of trying to convince RU players to switch?
    3. Which possible teams would Poland national team be looking to play against next year? Germany, Ukraine, Hungary?

    Anyways take care man and great news!

    • druzik says:

      Thanks. Yes, knowing Polish has come in handy while there … I failed to say that I refereed the game that was played … I have never reffed a game in Polish so that was interesting. It was a learning curve for me also learning all the terms in Polish.

      Another priority is to get the Laws of the game translated into Polish and published and also to set up the Polish Rugby XIII website.

      To answer the questions:
      1. Yes they were mainly girlfriends of the guys, but a couple of them did have a go during the straining session but chose not to play the game. But Lukasz and I did discuss the possibility of a women’s Rugby league team in the future. But that is a long term goal.
      2. As I said we are not targeting any of the Union players. We want to use League as a way for the under privileged youth to focus their energies, from what I understood many of the kids are in the soccer gangs and want to get out of that. Many come from areas where they just hang out on the streets (not homeless), so League is an enticing new sport where they can focus their energies.
      3. Certainly when it comes to tournament play it will be The Hungarians and Czech’s I think… they will be at a good level for us and also travel will be easy. But i think for promotion wise, I personally would like to see a game against the Germans. That always makes headlines in Poland and that certainly will be a good game to promote the sport through the country.

      Just one last comment, we did have a person from the Local Union team at the meeting, and it was clear they were trying to stir trouble, in particular trying to get us say something bad about union and their club… which we didn’t bight… they left out of frustration which was quite funny… actually the people that were there knew that League was a different sport and it was they who heckled down this person.

      • dragons4eva says:

        Ahh ok that’s interesting news. Didn’t know you’d catch the eye of RU hecklers now. I can’t really comment on that cause i’ve never seen or dealt with cross coded problems like that before.

        But interesting with focusing on just RL players. Picking players who have hardly ever seen a Rugby ball might be a good start i suppose. Plus it has the added effect that it was their first rugby sport to play.

        Anyways good luck with everything in Poland!

      • druzik says:

        Oh I have dealt with the cross coders on many occasion in many countries, its a part of rugby league life unfortunately. Hence why we want to avoid getting into any stoush with them.

      • dragons4eva says:

        Ohh btw…if you need extra International competition…why don’t you contact the guys at the BARLA? Maybe they might send a squad over to see where the national team is at? I dunno just an idea.

      • druzik says:

        Oh, BARLA would be way, way, way above our pay grade at the moment.

        I am thinking moer the GB Pioneers, they actually hold training sessions and teach the new players and then play a game… it would be more fruitful to do that. Also all the GB pioneer players are students and also have coaching and training degrees so its more of a benefit in that sense to start with.

        In a few years then BARLA could be a good option.

    • Mark Hewson says:

      Danmark Rugby League are looking for games. Contact me for more information.

  2. Chris Sanders says:

    Daniel,I give you 12 out of 10 for inventing the Game in Poland!

    • druzik says:

      Chris I didn’t “invent” the sport in Poland. It was Lukasz who was the thrust of the sport being ste up, though I had wanted and tried to do it several years ago, this credit does not go to me. lukasz has enlisted my help which I am more than happy to give them as I want to see the sport succeed in my country of heritage.

      Its Lukasz and his friends and helpers that need the 12/10, not me.

  3. Peter T says:

    Daniel, I really appreciate your services to our great game! I try to read all your posts & comments because I find them so refreshing.

  4. Chris Sanders says:

    Well at least you aren’t a limelighter like others in Rugby League full of their own self-importance and we admire your modesty as well.
    However,I still believe that you are the driving influence in all of this!
    Have the NRL or SL ever introduced the Sport to new Countries in the past?
    Tell me what those 2 Bodies ever do for the Global Game?

    • druzik says:

      No Its not about the limelght at all … but if people recognise someones work there is nothing wrong in that either … but as I said I am merely helping and its the guys in Poland that deserve the credit for this effort.

      Well, its not the the NRLs or ESL job to spread the game, if anything its the ARL and RFL’s … and certainly the RFL is doing that. Much of the funding and help for the RLEF and other countries initially is from the RFL and most of the english clubs are aligned with an english club and utilise therir help regularly.

      For example, Keiron Purtil from St Helens helps out the Canadians at times with coaching the National team. You’ll find nearly all ESL and championship teams have some sort of link to a nation or a team in another developing nation.

  5. Paul Cartman says:

    Fantastic effort Druzik and Lukasz, its great to see work being done actually on the ground in a country rather than looking to have a team full of heritage players. Its also great that you are looking beyond Union players this will help you where other nations have failed.

  6. Chris Sanders says:

    If it’s not the SL and NRL job to spread the Game then why have expansion??Then no need to develop the Game in new horizons.That’s the easy option out but this would suit the majority of SL and NRL fans cas they are only interested in their small patch and this reflects the thinking and mentality of Warrior fans here in the Shakey Isles.
    Rugby League always thinks small and the administration which is pissed poor to say the least couldn’t care a toss!They are only interested in their small circle of mates by pissing in each others pockets!
    However,it’s good to see that you recognise other peoples efforts in establishing the Code in Poland cas most people in Rugby league only heap praise on themselves cas they are full of their own self importance.
    That’s what I have noticed over the years.

    • druzik says:

      The NRL and ESL are national domestic competitions … not governing bodies of the game. The ARL and RFL are the national governing bodies and are the ones that interact with other nations… that is why its not the NR:s or ESLs role. The ARL should be the one going out, not only growing the sport in Australia but pushing for greater TV coverage overseas to push the product, should be pushing for a more defined international schedule, not one that is done ad-hoc every two years.

      You are right on the way some administrators want to push their agendas, particularly in australia its a sport that has a tone of money and so people see it as away to get rich… and I suppose in some ways that is OK…. but if its at the expense of others and organisations and countreis, then, no I dont follow into that, and its why I am critical of a lot of the things that Australia does.

      … and when I am critical its not, not the NRL per se, but the way the ARL is running things, or allowing things to be run that I am critical of. THAT is what, unfortunately, is having such a massive influence on the running of the international game.

      P.S: It is ’cause’ or ‘because’ … not cas.

  7. Chris Sanders says:

    And before I forget Daniel,which English Professional or Semi-Professional Club is enligned to Russia??
    I give you the answer!None!

  8. Chris Sanders says:

    Some big news in reguards to Rugby league here in NZ Daniel.Go to facebook.com/TruthNewspaper.
    Sorry about my bad English.I only went to Standard 6 at school.

  9. Ryan says:

    By the way guys, good job. I know you don’t want to take all the credit for this Daniel but you certainly deserve some. After all, you’ve been working on this for a fair while and your persistence has paid off, even though you may not be directly involved.

  10. Chris Sanders says:

    No not that but some tycoon wants to buy the Warriors!

  11. Chris Sanders says:

    But Watson and Hotchin don’t want to sell.

  12. Chris Sanders says:

    Owen Glenn, a billionaire, wants to buy the Warriors but I don’t think the 2 owners, Watson and Hotchin want to sell.They brought the joint in 2000 for a dollar and they wiped off all the outstanding debts that Tainui had incurred and of course the original Warriors also went broke when the Auckland Rugby League had control of it from 1994 to 1999.
    If you click on http://www.nzherald.co.nz there are pages and pages on this subject Daniel!
    I personally believe that Glenn should get his own NRL Club up and running because there’s now enough interest to have 2 Professional Franchises operating here in Auckland.
    One at Eden Park,the home of Cricket and the other at Mt Smart.This is what they want to do in Brisbane and why should it be any different here!
    Glenn made his money in the transportation of cigarettes and tobacco from the Northern Hemisphere to Australasia and gave the Christchurch Earthquake Fund a million dollars and donated 7.5 million dollars to the Auckland University’s business school in 2008.

    • druzik says:

      Would it be better to get a team somewhere else in New Zealand other than Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch? Though from what I have seen and read, there does not seem to be much interest in another New Zealand team in New Zealand just yet.

      Well club sales and ownership are nothing new. Its up to Owen Glenn and Watson and Hotchin.

      OK Chris when you put the link in, don’t just put the main page link there… that changes daily, have the actual link for the story.

  13. Chris Sanders says:

    Any chance of Poland playing a Russian Army side in the not-too-distant future Daniel?a good way nto promote the Game in that part of the World!
    There are many students involved in the Russian army sides and of course the GB Pioneers is a wonderful concept in developing the Code in new horizons.
    Have you made contact with David Oxley??

    • druzik says:

      Not in the near future. The Polish team is just no where near at any level to take on such an established side. We need some basic games where we can get some training. GB pioneers are good for this and a few clubs from lower division are what we are looking at. Gerard Keenan is my contact at the GB pioneers.

  14. Ryan says:

    It was a fair while ago.

  15. Chris Sanders says:

    You might be right but the Vulcans are only wasting their time in the NSW Cup and it was the same for Toulose in the Championship.
    You are right!There’s no real interest in another NRL Side here in NZ but Otago/Southland could be go as well as Palmerston North in the not-too-distant future, but people like Glenn don’t come along every day of the week.
    Glenn is a giver, not a taker and unlike both Watson an Hotchin, he hasn’t fleeced people because Watson and Hotchin were part and parcel of failed Finance Company, Hanover,which left 16,500 people out of pocket to the tune of $550 Million and then they transferred their debt to Allied Farmers!
    The Investors are still out of pocket and there’s no likihhod of them ever being paid up!

  16. Ryan says:

    I like to join ur team, my is hart stella am one of the rugby player in nation team in nigeria, but i will be in poland soom how do i come to you. Bt my email is gist4hart@yahoo.com. Thanks yours faithfully HART.

    • druzik says:

      Well it depens weather you mean Rugby Union (XV) or Rugby League (XIII). We are dealing with Rugby League here. There are Union teams around but it you want to play league then your best bet is to contact Lukasz.

  17. Chris Sanders says:

    The NZRU are losing money hand over fist and stand to lose another $15 million from the RWC!There’s is now talk that the NPC(Rugby)could be reduced from 14 Teams back down to 10 next year because it’s not financially sustainable!
    Manawatu,Northland,Counties/Manakau and perhaps Nelson Bays/Marlborough could miss the cut for next season.
    Maybe an NRL Franchise could go into one of those Regions!
    It depends on a financial backer and who knows!

    • Corey says:

      If these Rugby Union heartlands are losing money in a lower competition then what do you think a RL team in a top competition will do. Look at the Crusaders!

      Although, I read an article recently, it’s in French so I got it translated – my French is not as good as it should be. http://www.carnetsport.com/xv-de-france-en-derive-une-surprise
      It’s about RL being a better spectacle (written by a general sports journalist) and how the NRL is the richest Rugby competition in the world.

  18. Chris Sanders says:

    If they buy big name Rugby Union players in those areas instead of Neville Nobodies from Australia and if they bring in people of the calibre of Grahame West to coach and convert the Rugby players into competent league converts,that will draw bums on seats!
    This is why the Game has struggled for a blong time in London cas they never,ever taken a punt on buying up people from the other code to attract crowds,but instead,brought a lot of rubbish from “Down Under”people who couldn’t get crowds in a telephone booth.
    It all comes down to marketing!

    • Ryan says:

      The London market is a very, very hard one to crack. There’s definitely no point buying Union players that’ve been un-tried in Rugby League. Especially considering it would be a massive financial risk for a team that is already struggling and propped up by the RFL. That’s not marketing, that’s un-successful financial management.

      Chris, it’s easy for you to say do this, do that, but are you actually out there doing it? Do you understand the logistics behind all of these ideas you throw around? Thing aren’t as straight forward as you may think, especially in developing Rugby League areas.

  19. Chris Sanders says:

    Well, I was in London 32 years ago and Fulham drew good crowds at Craven Cottage cas it’s in the right area and go and read Robert Gates book Gone North volumes 1 and 2 and see how many Rugby Union players that have been successful in Rugby League Ryan?
    There have been plenty, especially in English Rugby League and in the past, it has been a successful marketing ploy!

    • Ryan says:

      32 years is a long time…

      And is that book even in print anymore? I could only find reference to a “Gone North: Welshman in Rugby League”, and they were second hand items. Again, it’s a long time ago, the games have evolved.

  20. Chris Sanders says:

    Well, history never changes and has a a strange habit of repeating itself and that book can be got at any where in the North of England and even in some second hand book shops “Down Under”.
    Rugby and League are so much alike nowadays, it ain’t funny!And why does Rugby Union sign League players up?
    To put bums on seats and look at Sonny Bill Wiliams??
    The reason why the NZRU also signed up Brad Thorn was to get first hand knowledge of some of Wayne Bennett’s methods and ideas through Thorn!
    They using RL as a learning curve for their own game to evolve more and more,so to give then an edge over their opponents if you like and in the past RL use to buy up Rugby Union Stars big time not only to “piggy back” on Rugby’s success, but to enhance the profile on their own Sport not only on the National stage(usuaqlly through BBC TV when Eddie Waring was in full swing) but the International one as well(through GB Lion’s Tours).
    Marketing ploys are similiar in a lot of ways!

    • Ryan says:

      The games are hardly more and more alike nowadays, in fact they’re less and less alike. Mate, what worked in the 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s won’t work in modern times. The whole dynamic of the world has changed. Everything is run like a business and much more professionally, including Rugby League. Players are demanding more money. In the past union was amateur and league professional, so of course it was viable for them to buy union players. Now union players get paid more than league players, and you think London and other clubs should take a massive financial gamble when they are already short on funds! Not to mention the amount of salary cap space someone that would “put bums on seats” would take up. It’s just not viable. Sonny Bill went to Union, because there was the money to pay him! Just like every other League player that swapped. Also, he was a second rower in league and now he plays in the centres in union, because the games are so vastly different. The only legitimate argument you can actually make at the moment is regarding Gareth Thomas, but he is an outside back (so the transition between codes is much easier) and he wasn’t demanding as much money as other union player. Anyway, I’m over this “debate”, you don’t seem to be comprehending anything I’m saying.

  21. Chris Sanders says:

    So where do most of people playing Amateur Rugby League in Wales come from then Ryan??They come frrom Rugby Union backgrounds cas it has always being a great grounding for Rugby League in the past in South Wales and you can’t change the history!
    Here in Auckland,Howick won their first ever Fox Memorial with 5 former Rugby Union players within their ranks from Pakaranga Rugby Club,people that Paparanga didn’t want in the first place,so Howick took them on and took full advantage of the Rugby Union rejects if you like!They won the Fox with unproven League players and it’s well known that the Auckland Rugby League, with more money than the New Zealand Rugby Union who own no freehold ground unlike League,heavily finance the NZ Cops League team every year made up entirely of Rugby Union players with donations!
    And look at the Vulcans, a team that loses money every week in the NSW Cup?
    That’s what I call a waste of time because it ain’t financially sustainable,only a gravvy train for some of the officials at Auckland Rugby League!
    So in your eyes Rugby Union people in the past don’t count??
    Go back and look at the history of the Game!

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