By Phil Caplan, Date: 13/7/12

Hungary and the Czech Republic meet again on Saturday in the 2012 European Bowl.

Last year the Czechs visited Hungary and won their first silverware, claiming the Bowl courtesy of a 38-16 victory in Keskemet. This weekend, the Magyar Bulls head to Vrchlabi, 130km north-east of Prague, to try to register a first win in the sport for a Hungarian side.

Since taking up rugby league last year, the Hungarians have been mentored by their Serbian neighbours, with incoming and outgoing club tours in October and March.

“The match against the Czech national team is the first match for the Magyar Bulls outside Hungary,” said Hungarian rugby league organiser Zsolt Habóczki. “All the 19 team members are excited about the trip and we want to show the Czechs how much we have learnt in the past 12-months.”
With word spreading about rugby league’s development in Hungary more players were available for selection, although injuries to Geza Goletz, Peter Fustos and star player Matyas Bihari, all of whom played last year, has been a blow. Eight players return from their 2011 squad.

Czech coach Andy Mulhall has named a 20-man squad comprising of players from seven of the nine Czech clubs in what is the most diverse national selection ever. League leaders Lokomotiva Beroun contribute five, including inaugural Czech captain Jan Sluka, who made his debut in 2006, with seven members of the victorious 2011 side retaining their places.

Despite seven players being called up from the new second division, Mulhall will able to call on a more experienced side than last year: “Jan Sluka returns after two years out of the game, and his brother, Jiri, is playing his first season with Beroun after previously being a mainstay of the Czech national rugby union team”.

Three of the squad, all outside backs, Jan Buben, Martin Cernohorsky and the Prague Rhinos’ sole representative, David Dolak, played for the Czech Republic Under-18s in 2008, with Dolak and Buben beginning their senior representation later that year. The duo, who lead their country with four caps each, provide the most experience in the squad, alongside hooker Petr Sedina, who played for Irish club West Coast Eagles for several seasons.

In a ‘European Bowl Festival’, two curtain raiser matches will precede the main event with a big crowd is expected in league-friendly Vrchlabi.

Jan Buben, Martin Cernohorsky, Vítězslav Dražka, Jan Sluka, Jiri Sluka (Beroun), Lukas Bohm, Petr Cap, Ladislav Cintler, Pavel Kubasta (Havlickuv Brod), Karel Hudec, Vaclav Jacko, Petr Sedina, Pavel Vrana (Mikulov), Victor Leeuw, Pavel Zemanek (Pardubice), David Dolak (Praha), Jaroslav Bzoch, Vaclav Fischer (Usti nad Labem) , Standa Kosar, David Lahr (Vrchlabi)

Phil Angel, Gergely Bán, Mehdi Benaniba, Juan Carlos Berbesi, Lajos Bihari, Matyas Bihari, Andre Brand, Francois Brunhes, Ted Coe, Arnold Dobos (c), Myles Ellison, Zsolt Haboczki, Laszlo Harangozo, Alex Hernádi, Joel Jiminez, Olivér Kopasz, Nandor Szabo, Tibor Horvath, Ádám Zsinkó