Its been an interesting time the last couple weeks. The Bradford Bulls saga goes on with now some time being extended to find investors that can save the club. BARLA toured the Czech Republic and The GB Pioneers have completed a highly successful tour of Lodz in Poland. Also the Manly Sea Eagles are looking at plans, that have been wrongly reported as being a first in Rugby League, to get their field upgraded.
The Bradford Bulls have been given a bit more time to try and find a saviour for their financial troubles. They sacked 16 members of the staff, including the coach last week and had the audacity to then ask them to work for free. To Potters credit, he will do just that, he has pride and wants to see the season out.
But the question remains, as I spoke about last week, should the Bulls go? I have in the past talked about this topic in about Australian clubs, particularly the call to “Kill off” or “relocate” clubs. Its one of the few times I will come on this site and specifically talk about my Cronulla Sharks team.
My stance has been and still is. You need to let the natural processes take their course. You should never forcibly remove a club or make it do something it and its fans don’t want. The corollary is: If a club dies a natural death through its own inability and incompetence, then so be it. That is nature. We cannot Euthanize teams. This I defended any club that people were saying should go.
However the Bradford Bulls situation have now demonstrated the corollary. They have died a natural death through their own mismanagement and incompetence and so should be allowed, after the season is out, to wither and die. Have a new team come in next year, how that team is selected is a good question, but you would thing that at least the other candidates that were up for promotion last year would be in with a chance, after all its still that cycle.
Its food for thought.
So there was an interesting article the other day in the Daily Telegraph on plans that the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles want to lay an artificial pitch at Brook Vale Oval, see article here. Now this has cause quite a storm for two reasons. 1. The claim that they will be the first Professional Rugby League team to play on an artificial surface and 2. that this will be detrimental to the health of players etc…
So commenting on the second comment first. Well I am no expert so I won’t say too much that its good or bad as a surface, suffice to say that there are plenty of nations and sports that play on synthetic surfaces and seem to have no real issues. The recent trip the Pioneers had to Poland was played all on Synthetic grass and no one was injured or seemed to have any issues with it. But I am sure there are stats out there so i’ll leave that one up to the experts.
But its that first comment I have the real gripe with! And its not even about the comment itself so much but the example of the poor journalism and hand-waviness that so called Rugby league “Journalists” and “Experts” practice in Australia on a daily basis. For the record there already IS a professional top flight Rugby League team that plays on an artificial surface, they are the Widnes Vikings. They have had this now for over a year and nearly a full season. Its insularity and nepotism of Australian media, Rugby League and many of its fans that does not allow the sport to grow as much as it should.
Now on to some more up beat news and some thing I am involved with. Last week saw the GB Pioneers tour Poland with a 3 game series. Though the sport is only based in Lodz at the moment, the impetus for the tour was to stir and promote the sport and get it to grow. The GB Pioneers are a student team, they have players from universities and 5 each from Wales, Scotland, England and Ireland.
The Pioneers lads were fantastic and had a great time. The feedback from them has been that its the best tour that they have done in their 10 years. Lukasz Lucka had organised thing on the ground spectacularly with great accommodation for the lads and also a trip to Krakow and the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz. So not just a Rugby league experience but a cultural and historic one for the Brits as well.
On the flip side the Poles got a whole heap out of it. They finally got their first ever games of Rugby League in the country, they played a quality side, which actually means a lot more in Poland than any result. The training and coaching sessions that had with the Pioneers were invaluable. They got to learn proper techniques on passing, tackling, tactics and learnt that touch footy is a great way to practice a lot of the basics at training without the full physical contact.
Despite the three blow out scores, all the Polish players had huge smiles on their faces. The score was irrelevant, for them playing was the important thing, they knew that they would face an uphill battle, but they got in there none the less. Talking with Steve Curtis and James Szymik at the Pioneers they said its the most physical first up nation they cam across, that the Poles threw everything at them.
The most heartening thing, talking with Steve and James, was that the poles really did listen to what was said to them and the second and third games the Polish players played better and better, talked more, played more structures footy. The third game they completed their first two sets right to the 6th with no mistakes which was a change from the first games. Lukasz Lucka, playing at Half back put in a great kick to the Pioneers full back which troubled him and the defence got him. This was fantastic to hear that so much progress was made.
The crowds slowly grew as well, from about 10 in the first match there was about 100 by the third. two training sessions with school kids also helped. They had one session with 60-70 kids, and trained in the beautiful Lagewniki Forest, which is one of the only remaining forests left in a city about 300 hectares worth. A sausage sizzle was done as well and everyone enjoyed a great time. Also some promotion at Manufaktura, with a small touch tournament on sand, was done. Manufaktura is the big restaurant, bar and shopping district in Lodz and on a Friday afternoon/evening packed with people doing this was brilliant. I am sure a few people from there cam out to see the game next day.
The first two games saw players from the Lodz Magpies club play the pioneers. The idea was to have the best players from those games play for the first Polish Rep team, Polska XIII. In the end the Pioneers were great in letting us have as many subs as we wanted so all the players still got a run and got good experience.
So all in all, a fantastic trip and both sides formed a close bond and friendships and learnt a lot from each other. Its now time to grow the sport in Poland. Oh I should say that we got quite a bit of press with not only the local Lodz newspaper and radio coming out and doing articles on them, but also one of the news services based in Warsaw that syndicates around the world also ran a story. A huge plus of the boys.
Lodz Magpies 00 – 98 GB Pioneers
Lodz Magpies 00 – 82 GB Pioneers
Polska XIII 00 – 158 GB Pioneers
So leading on from that, where to now for the Poles. Well its imperative that two things happen. There has been interest with new players since the tour. If we can build up the base to 40-50 players then there is a need for a second club to be formes in Lodz at least. This means that both teams can start to play each other on a regular basis and both can do promotion and build to secure a third club as needed.
The second thing is that we need to get another game in for the players. Myself and Lukasz are now talking with a couple parties about getting in another game in the next few months. This may be a 9s tournament even. We need another game to keep the momentum going and make sure that players know that the sport is serious and that we don;t lose people over the winter when grounds are out of business.
So great times ahead for Poland and Rugby League!
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