Czech Republic Rugby League
Czech Republic Rugby League

By Andy Mulhall, Date:29/5/13

Lokomotiva Beroun and the Chrudim Angels remain undefeated in their respective divisions in the Czech Rugby League Championships.

Beroun have nilled three of their four 1st Division opponents en route to finishing the first half of the home-and-away season undefeated. So far this season they have defeated Vrchlabi 56-0, Havlickuv Brod 38-0, and Mikulov Roosters 42-6 at home, and Teplice Dragons 50-0 away with some impressively mature attacking rugby league and solid defence.

Vrchlabi are running second having recorded a 28-16 away victory over the Dragons and a gritty 14-8 win over the Roosters at home, while both Mikulov and Havlickuv Brod still have 2 games in hand before they complete the first half of their season, after their match in April was postponed due to heavy snow. Thus, Beroun are the only team to have completed all their first round matches, and go into the representative part of the season – which includes the Czech national team’s European Bowl games against Norway and Ukraine, a warm-up match for that tournament against the Serbian under 20s, and the 3rd annual CZRLA International 9s Tournament in Pardubice – sure to dominate national team selection.

Chrudim Angels meanwhile, after winning both their games in the 2nd Division’s opening tourney of the season, again seemed relatively untroubled as they won all three games – against Prague, Pardubice and Hradec Kralove – of the season’s second tourney hosted by the Prague Vikings. The Vikings kick started their season with two tourney wins from three games, defeating both of their local rivals, Hradec Kralove and Pardubice. In the only other 2nd Division match of the day Hradec continued their winning streak against local derby rivals Pardubice.

Vita Caslavka was the outstanding player of the day for the Angels, overshadowing the performances of a host of impressive teammates with a dynamic performance that saw him score tries against each of the teams he played against with his unique mix of speed, deceptive strength and irrepressible determination; Lada Cintler was again the standout for Hradec, working particularly well off the dominant forward surges of Martin Kostal; Darek Blatak, Vit Rejda and Jiri Novak led a depleted Jets outfit from the front; and Martin Pokorny and Brad Compton led the Vikings forward all day.

The CZRLA 1st Division Championship has moved from 4 to 5 teams in 2013, played according to a traditional home and away model. Three strong community-based clubs who debuted in 2012 – Mikulov, Teplice (formerly Usti nad Labem) and Havlickuv Brod – have come up from the 2nd Division to join Beroun and Vrchlabi (formerly the uniquely branded, ‘Mad Squirrels’) in the 1st Division, while 2012 1st Division Grand Finalists, Prague Vikings, and the Pardubice Jets – the 2011 CZRLA Champions and inaugural Grand Final winners -voluntarily drop down to the 2nd Division- ostensibly because their predominantly student-based playing roster made it difficult for them to fully commit to the extended 2013 1st Division season – ensuring they can both continue to play rugby league, but without the demands of a full 7 month home-and-away season.

The CZRLA 2nd Division, conversely, is again being played according the novel Merit-style Championship model introduced in 2012, whereby each clubs hosts a tourney at a single venue in which all clubs are invited to compete and matches are played in 2 x 15 or 2 x 20 minute halves. There are again be 5 teams in the 2nd Division in 2013, with Brno-Bystrc being the newest club to join the CZRLA, while 3 of the season’s 8 tourneys will be taken to towns who do not currently host a Rugby League team, as a promotion for them doing so in 2014. Unlike the 1st Division though, there is a more substantial hiatus in the season during the traditional July-August summer holiday period, reflecting the fact that most of the 2nd Division clubs are based around universities and rely on student players who do not necessarily live in the respective towns they represent during the summer holiday period. As with 2011 & 2012, the 2013 1st & 2nd Division Grand Finals will be played on the same day, at the venue of the 1st Division’s Champions choosing, in October before the commencement of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.