If you were to ask a Czech friend what rugby is, he or she would most likely turn around and stare at you in the face with a blank expression. Yet, it didn’t prevent an internationally loved sport, most commonly referred to as a ‘hooligans sport played by gentlemen,’ from being inducted into the AAU’s long list of clubs.
The idea was brought about by three students, who come from countries that classify rugby as a religion. Iliya Fedorov, the club’s assistant coach, lived in South Africa for a few years and discovered the sport after moving from the States. Benjamin Rodenburg and Raevenn Breen, the club secretary and head coach respectively, come from the Fiji Islands.
Initially, neither of the club’s coaches thought that starting a rugby club in the Czech Republic, a country where football and hockey are to die for, was a good idea. Their hopes turned into reality after curious students and Western-European expats were dying to get their hands on an oval ball.
There are over 400,000 expats living in the Czech Republic, a small percentage of whom know of or have played the sport in the past.
The club wanted to target the Erasmus students and the expats community to get them together to play a sport they are familiar with, but a handful of Czechs are known to have a love for the sport as well. Four Rugby Union clubs are based in the city of Prague and six in Brno, the ‘birthplace’ of Czech Rugby.
“It was great to see that a lot of students had an interest in getting this club started,” Head Coach Raevenn Breen said. “We had our first session on the October 14 and ran the club members through the basic rules of rugby union.”
One of the main aims of the coaching staff is to have the team ready within the next three months for domestic competitions organized by the Czech Rugby Union – a member of the World Rugby Organization.
“Our coaching staff are going to be taking the running of this club very seriously since rugby is a physically demanding sport,” said assistant coach Benjamin Rodenburg. “We have received assistance from the Student Council in terms of a club budget and the club’s executives are also going to be donating some money towards training equipment and facilities.”
AAU’s first ever rugby club has a membership of 35 players and have to date had two club meets at TJ Sokol Královské Vinohrady in Riegerovy Sady. The club is open to people who are first-timers all the way up to semi-professional players between the ages of 18 – 25.
Training sessions are held twice a week on Friday and Sunday from 15:30 – 17:00. You can find out more info on the club’s Facebook Page.
Photo courtesy of Rugby Club