Estonia Struggles on

By John Slade

This weeks Blog comes from John Slade the President and Coach Of Estonian Rugby. In Estonia Rugby Union and Rugby League all come under the one umbrella and work mutually together. Its a fairly new sport in general in Estonia and so the old rivalry does not exist. I have asked John to come on and write a little bit about Estonian Rugby League.

Estonian Rugby League

Estonia RL Started in a blaze of glory with perhaps to higher expectations of taking the world by storm. As a product RL has all the bells and whistles that any new product launch should have, but it needs a good support team that manages the costumers feed back, and respond immediately by adjusting the packaging or contents to the culture of that country.

When Germany RL made their epic 36 hour magical trip too Estonia it showed commitment by their players and management that impressed everyone involved with Estonia RL. That rush of enthusiasm has long gone leaving an empty void and even louder silence.

  • Development 3 nations 2006
  • Germany 34-32 Austria
  • Estonia 24-38 Germany
  • Austria 56-32 Estonia
  • Team P W D L Pt
    Germany 2 2 0 0 4
    Austria 2 1 0 1 2
    Estonia 2 0 0 2 1

The European Bowl is a good example of product promotion, for example Ukraine RL, Latvia RL and Estonia RL in the same grouping. Its not so much about running in 100 + points against a poorer side, but the fact that the teams can meet and walk around Riga or Tallinn etc… together feeling part of something rather unique and special.

PR is a huge part of getting the game established, and visiting teams should make time for the school visit or hand shaking with a local mayor or who ever. The one outstanding factor that is still pointed out to us is the Great Britain University visit in 2005 and Germanys game.

Estonia is a very small country club, with eyes and ears everywhere just waiting to say something nasty. When we have been lucky enough to have RL sides, the hoteliers, night clubs, taxis, police have always made a point of calling me to say thanks for the tourist, not like those terrible stag groups or other rugby teams! It says volumes for RL but why don’t the marketing people pick up on this.

  • European Bowl 2008
  • Estonia 10-48 Latvia
  • Latvia 62-10 Estonia
Team P W D L Pt
Latvia 2 2 0 2 4
Estonia 2 0 0 0 0
  • European Bowl 2009
  • Latvia 06-40 Ukraine
  • Ukraine 86-00 Estonia
  • Estonia 04-74 Latvia
Team P W D L Pt
Ukraine 2 2 0 0 4
Latvia 2 1 0 1 2
Estonia 2 0 0 2 0

Latvia and Estonia stand alone, the other Baltic regions need to work as a sub unit within the RLEF if Rugby League is to grow, and it needs to be with schools at the very grass roots level. We are in schools everyday with different programs, anti-drugs, integration, orphanage appeals, we are involved with social issues that are tough and sensitive, this is what sport should be shown as. Not to go into a school and rubbish all the other activities, all sports are good they help develop youngsters into good parents-citizens. That’s our way, we’re not saying its for others, but standing at a bar drunk being abusive to other sports supporters certainly wont work.

Estonia is a deeply divided country with the Estonian and Russian dislike and distrust for each others cultures making development even harder, that’s not to say it should get any special treatment like getting help with kit, balls for instance would make a huge difference or boots? Its a wait an see situation, and finger pointing wont get things done. The RLEF will either collapse or restructure its management style,and goals focusing on schools/youth/clubs rather than the system that’s in place now

John Slade’s email:
Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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