21 Jul 2014

The fourth annual CZRLA International 9s Tournament, held in Pardubice, has been won by the Skane Roosters ensuring that the competition has had a different victor from a different nation each time. The Swedish club, who beat Hungarian side Elephants XIII in the final, follow in the footsteps of Lebanon’s American University, the British Amateur Rugby League Association Youth and Belgrade Select in claiming the trophy.

Both finalists went through the pool stages unbeaten while host club Pardubice Jets defeated Mikulov-HB to take out the third place play-off. Budapest Select drew with Usti nad Labem in the fifth place play-off and the gallant Lodz Magpies, from Poland, went down to the Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels in the final play-off game.

This year’s tournament was notable for several firsts, including a clash in the group stage between two clubs who have forged an alliance with Australian powerhouse club and current World Club Champions, Sydney Roosters – Skane and the Czech Republic’s Mikulov - who both now carry their colours. In addition, inaugural women’s rugby league matches were staged in the Czech Republic between local side Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels and a Budapest Ladies Select, the Hungarians coming out winners on aggregate.

It was also the first time that Poland’s only rugby league club, Lodz Magpies, have played outside of their country and, although they did not manage to an historic first win, they did break the club’s try-scoring drought, running in several during the course of the day and showing great spirit and enthusiasm.

Skane Roosters player/manager Paul Briggs was ecstatic about the victory, declaring: “Going through the tournament undefeated in the 35 degree heat was incredibly tough but also so rewarding for our young Swedish players. It was an awesome experience for the team on and off the field.” Two of his tyros, Carl Lindblom and Christopher Vannnerberg, were named joint ‘Players of the Tournament’ in the men’s division.

Hungary’s Elephants XIII supremo Zsolt Lukacs praised the performances of all three Hungarian teams, saying: “We are all very happy about the games and the results. It was great development again.”

That was particularly evident in the women’s game where the skill level on show between the two rookie teams was best typified by a dazzling flick pass from Budapest’s Francesca Kiss, which set-up the decisive try in the second game. Her all-round performances led to her being awarded the ‘Player of the Tournament’ for the women’s section.

Pardubice Jets head coach, CZRLA Board member and tournament organiser Darek Blatak summed up the ethos stating: ‘All our hard work was rewarded with a very good day for rugby league with teams from four countries participating and all of the matches being played in great spirit.”

CZRLA 2014 International 9s Results:
Pardubice Jets 14 – 12 Usti nad Labem
Elephants 36 – 6 Lodz Magpies
Skane Roosters 18 – 0 Budapest RL  
Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels 0 – 8 Mikulov Roosters / Orli Havlickuv Brod

Budapest Ladies 16 - 16 Vrchlabi Ladies

Pardubice Jets  4 – 6 Elephants  
Usti nad Labem 32 – 10 Lodz Magpies
Skane Roosters 16 – 12 Mikulov Roosters / Orli Havlickuv Brod
Budapest RL 8 – 4 Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels

Budapest Ladies 32 v 16 Vrchlabi Ladies

Pardubice Jets 26 – 0 Lodz Magpies
Usti nad Labem 6 – 22 Elephants  
Skane Roosters 28 – 4 Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels
Budapest RL 8 - 24 Mikulov Roosters / Orli Havlickuv Brod

Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels 14 – 4 Lodz Magpies
Budapest RL 16 – 16 Usti nad Labem
Pardubice Jets 24 – 6 Mikulov Roosters / Orli Havlickuv Brod
Skane Roosters 18 – 0 Elephants XIII