Rugby union in Poland

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Rugby union in Poland
Ekstraliga rugby, final 2009-2010, Budowlani vs. Lechia, 2010-06-19, aut 03.jpg
Budowlani Łódź playing Lechia Gdańsk in the Ekstraliga rugby final in 2010.
Governing body Polski Związek Rugby
National team(s) Poland
Nickname(s)Biało-czerwoni (The White and Reds)
First played1922
Registered players6,779 [1]
National competitions
Club competitions
Audience records
Season Ekstraliga
I liga Rugby
II liga Rugby

Rugby union in Poland is a minor, but growing sport and currently, the Polish men`s national team are ranked 34th in the world as of 31 October 2020. [2]


Governing body

Polish Rugby Union (Polski Związek Rugby) [3] was founded in 1957, and joined the International Rugby Football Board in 1988. [4] The official supplier of equipment to the PRU is the Polish company Gonga.

An earlier Polish Rugby Union was set up in the early 1920s, but was disbanded in 1928. [5]


In 1921, Louis Amblard, a Frenchman, set up the very first Polish rugby club called White Eagles (Białe Orły). [5] The first match was in 1922, [5] and the first club international in 1924 against a Romanian side. [5]

The game became established in the Warsaw Military Academy in the early 1930s. [4]

The tragic events of World War II and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact meant that the growth of Polish rugby was retarded until the 1950s. [4] During World War II, there were occasional games between allied POWs in German camps in Poland. [6] For example, a game was held between a Scottish and a Welsh XV, in ten inches of snow. [6] No conversions were allowed, as the ball would have gone over the camp fence, and the game was twenty minutes each way. [6] Players wore army boots, trousers, prison shirts and balaclavas. [6]

Polish rugby arguably achieved its greatest success in the late 1970s when the national team beat Italy, Spain and the USSR, and also held Romania to a 37–21 win in 1977. [4]

"Much to everyone's surprise, Eastern Bloc countries are among the game's vigorous participants, seemingly oblivious to rugby's capitalist class-ridden origins. Russia emerged from behind the Iron Curtain and came under international scrutiny when they played France in Toulouse in November 1978. Romania, Poland and Czechoslovakia are members of the Federation Internationale de Rugby Amateur, the governing body for those countries not in the IB." [7]

In 1983, Poland failed to play Italy in the FIRA Championships, and told FIRA that two of their players had died. [8] It is not known where the other died, but one had died near Bucharest. [8]

The Cold War frequently intruded – for example in the 1984 FIRA Championships, in the game against France, Poland demanded the removal of the French players Didier Camberabero, Henri Sanz and the Brive RFC centre Yves Fouget, because as members of the French armed forces, they were considered to be a security risk. [8]

Because of high Polish emigration, particularly to France, and English speaking nations, the Polish team actually has a fairly large pool of potential players. In addition, a number of Poles returning from jobs in the British Isles and France, have carried the game back with them.

There are currently three divisions in Poland. The second division was relaunched in 2009 using some of the major teams providing 2nd XVs, along with some newly formed sides. The top division has 8 teams while the second division has 6 teams. [9] Prior to that in 2008/2009 there were 10 teams in the top division and only 4 in the second. [10] This led to some very uneven contests between the top teams and those at the bottom of the league. There is now also a regional league played in the centre of Poland (around Lodz and Warsaw) in which some smaller clubs have entered teams and second teams from some of the top clubs nationally compete.

Polish rugby development, however, has tended to concentrate on rugby sevens as a means of introducing the sport to people. [11] The PRU organises regular one day sevens tournaments over the spring/summer with teams travelling from all over the country. There are teams forming all over the country, but there is a shortage of quality coaching and basic equipment. Despite this rugby is making good headway.

Rugby tens also has some popularity in Poland. [12]

National team

Italy vs Poland, 2008 European Rugby Sevens European Sevens 2008, Italy vs Poland.jpg
Italy vs Poland, 2008 European Rugby Sevens

Poland's international debut was in 1958 against East Germany, and they won the match, 9–8. [5]

They compete in the second division competition Rugby Europe Trophy, where the winner is promoted to the Premier Division Rugby Europe Championship. In 2018, Poland competed against Portugal, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Maldova.

In 2018, the Polish XV Men's team was ranked 35 in the world. [13] They also compete in the VII's Europe Grand Prix 7s Series. [14]

Women's Polish Rugby compete in the Women's 7s GPS, where they play other European countries, such as Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy, France, Russia and Germany [15]

Notable players

In the 1990s, there were at least fifty Poles playing in the French first and second divisions. [4] Notable amongst these was Grzegorz Kacala, the 114-kilogram (18.0 st) open side flanker, who helped Brive win the 1996 European Cup. [4]

Mariusz Pudzianowski, better known as a Polish strongman, is one of the most famous Polish rugby players. He played with Budowlani Lodz but retired after one season. [16] [17]

Men's rugby

XV Rugby

Seven's Rugby

Teams. [21]

Women's rugby

Although Poland's women have not yet played test match rugby, they have been playing international sevens rugby since 2005. (Current playing record).

Seven's Rugby

Teams. [22]

Youth and children's rugby

Poland rugby has a youth tournament for different age groups.

XV and Seven's Rugby

Teams [23]

Skill standard

Czestochowa rugby team, and mascot Rugby Club Czestochowa sos.jpeg
Częstochowa rugby team, and mascot

The standard of domestic rugby is relatively low in Poland. Most national players play in lower division teams in France (even in second/third teams) while some national players play in the domestic league. The main teams are based in the three main conurbations of Tricity, in Warsaw and Łódź (the latter, being current national champions). In Poland, because rugby union is viewed as a "power sport", flamboyance is not encouraged. The lack of foreign coaches stifles development, which is reflected by the national team's performances in the European Nations Cup against nations with less financial muscle and a smaller player pool such as the Czech Republic and the Ukraine, as well as matches against Kazakhstan, and Morocco.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Andorra national rugby union team

The Andorra national rugby union team, nicknamed Els Isards represent Andorra in international rugby union competitions. They play most of their home games in Andorra la Vella, the country's capital, though have had some matches in Foix, which is in France.

Luxembourg national rugby union team

The Luxembourg national rugby union team is a minor team, and is ranked as a third tier nation. The team participates in the annual Rugby Europe Championship Conference 2 North 2017–18 Rugby Europe Conference. Since 1996 Luxembourg also competes in the sevens circuits in Europe Luxembourg national rugby sevens team.

Russia national rugby union team

The Russia national rugby union team, nicknamed Medvedi, represents Russia in men's international rugby union international competitions. The team is administered by the Rugby Union of Russia (RUR). The RUR is considered the official successor union of the Soviet Union by World Rugby and the combined CIS team which played in the early 1990s. Since 1992, the team has played as Russia. Its first test match as Russia was against the Barbarians in Moscow in June 1992 and the country's first test against an official Test nation was against Belgium later that same year.

Poland national rugby union team

The Poland national rugby union team represents Poland in men's international rugby union competitions. Nicknamed The White and Reds (Biało-czerwoni), is considered one of the stronger tier 3 teams in European rugby and currently compete in the second division of the Rugby Europe International Championships in the Rugby Europe Trophy, a competition which is just below the Rugby Europe Championship where the top 6 countries in Europe compete. They are yet to participate in any Rugby World Cup and often play in white with red shorts as well as in red with white shorts.

Lithuania national rugby union team

The Lithuania national rugby union team represents Lithuania in men's international rugby union competitions. Nicknamed The Knights (Vytis), is considered one of the relatively stronger tier 3 teams in European rugby and currently compete in the second division of the Rugby Europe International Championships in the Rugby Europe Trophy, a competition which is just below the Rugby Europe Championship where the top 6 countries in Europe compete. They are yet to participate in any Rugby World Cup and play in black with a pattern involving the colours red, yellow and green.

The Mauritius national rugby union team represents Mauritius in international rugby union. Mauritius is a member of the International Rugby Board (IRB), but the national team is ranked as third tier, and Mauritius have yet to compete in either the Africa Cup or Rugby World Cup.

Rugby union in Malaysia

Rugby union in Malaysia is a sport with a long history, and a significant participation. There are 41,050 registered players, and the country is currently ranked 47th. There are sixteen unions, associations and councils affiliated to the Malaysian Rugby Union, more than 300 clubs, and 600 schools which teach the game. Malaysian rugby's most notable contribution to the game at large is the invention of rugby tens.

The European Under-18 Rugby Union Championship is an annual rugby union championship for Under-18 national teams, held since 2004. The championship is organised by rugby's European governing body, the FIRA – Association of European Rugby (FIRA-AER).

The Ekstraklasa, named PKO Ekstraklasa since the 2019–20 season due to its sponsorship by PKO Bank Polski, is the top Polish professional league for men's association football teams.

Germany women's national rugby sevens team is a minor national sevens side.

Craig Felston Rugby player

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Rugby Europe

Rugby Europe is the administrative body for rugby union in Europe. It was formed in 1999 to promote, develop, organise and administer the game of rugby in Europe under the authority of World Rugby. However, it is not responsible for the organisation of the Six Nations Championship or the competitions run by European Professional Club Rugby.

Polish Rugby Union, abbreviated to PZR, is the only legal Polish representative of Polish rugby union and rugby sevens for both men and women's rugby and all age groups.

Rugby union in Montenegro

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The 2016–17 Rugby Europe Trophy is the second-level rugby union competition below the premier Championship. It is the inaugural Trophy competition under its new format, that will see Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and Ukraine compete for the title, and a place in the Championship-Trophy Promotion play-off.

The 2019–20 Rugby Europe International Championships is the European Championship for tier 2 and tier 3 rugby union nations. The 2019–20 season is the third of its new format and structure, where all Levels play on a one-year cycle, replacing the old format of a two-year cycle, with the teams playing each other both home and away.

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  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN   1-86200-013-1) p72
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 July 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. 1 2 3 4 Cotton, p20
  7. Hopkins, John (ed) Rugby (1979 ISBN   0-304-30299-6), p8
  8. 1 2 3 Cotton, p29
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 March 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) retrieved, 7 November 2009
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) retrieved, 7 November 2009
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) retrieved, 7 November 2009
  12. retrieved, 7 November 2009