30 Jun 2014

In July, James Szymik and Robbie Marr will be cycling 1,000 miles in 10 days across Europe to raise money for the development of Rugby League in Poland. Robbie and James are making the gruelling trip from London to Lodz in Poland to support Lukasz Lucka, 24, the founder and chairman of Poland Rugby League. Lukasz discovered the sport four years ago whilst searching on the internet for an activity he could introduce to the city of Lodz to keep the problematic youth off the streets.

 In that time Lukasz has made great strides in introducing the game, organising and hosting a tour from the Great Britain Student Pioneers and delivering coaching sessions in local schools and psychiatric hospitals. Lukasz has also established the only community Rugby League club in Poland, the Lodz Magpies. The Magpies have trained every week since their inception, moving indoors to a local school hall in the winter when temperatures often drop below minus 20 degrees. However, with only one amateur team in Poland, the players have not played a game since the Pioneers visited in 2012.

 The purpose of this bike ride is to raise enough funds to send a Poland Under-18s team to the Czech Republic in August and enable the open age side to organise a fixture later this year. Poland Rugby League have applied for official recognition from the government which will allow them to access local funding. However, this process has proved to be a lengthy one and they are still awaiting a decision. In the meantime any funds the cycle ride can raise will support Lukasz and his team of volunteers in developing the game and allow the Lodz Magpies to continue to exist.

James Szymik is the national manager for University Rugby League with the RFL. In 2012 he toured Poland with the GB Pioneers as the match official. James’s grandfather is Polish and after meeting Lukasz and the Polish players wanted to do what he could to support them establish Rugby League. James now sits on the board for Poland Rugby League as the UK representative and has stopped playing to focus his training efforts on the bike ride this summer!

Robbie Marr represented the Great Britain Student Pioneers on their inaugural tour to play against the Latvian and Ukrainian national sides. In 2011 Robbie was the match official for the Pioneers in their three-test series against the Greek national side in Rhodes. He currently works as a sports maker for Abingdon & Witney College and helps run the Oxford RL Under-19s team.

 Robbie and James depart London for Harwich (Essex) on July 23rd to begin the gruelling 10-day trip. They then cycle through the Netherlands, across the north of Germany and into Poland to arrive in Lodz on Friday August 1st.

 Day 1 - London - Harwich (Essex) Overnight Stena line Ferry to Holland.
 Day 2 - Hook of Holland - Apeldoorn (Netherlands)
 Day 3 - Apeldoorn - Bad Laer (Germany)
 Day 4 - Bad Laer - Hildesheim (Germany)
 Day 5 - Hildesheim - Madgeburg (Germany)
 Day 6 - Madgeburg - Berlin (Germany)
 Day 7 - Berlin - Zielona Gora (Poland)
 Day 8 - Zielona Goar - Leznos (Poland)
 Day 9 - Leznos - Kalisz (Poland)
 Day 10 - Kalisz - Lodz (Poland)

To donate please visit or visit the Facebook page - 1000 mile cycle from London to Lodz. For more information on Poland Rugby League, the project or sponsorship opportunities please contact James Szymik at [email protected].

James and Robbie would like to thank their sponsors Raging Bull for supplying their cycling kit and Stena Line for sponsoring the ferry crossing.