Date: 01/09/18

Venue: Steinergasse 12, 1230 Wien, Austria

KO: 16:00 PM

Slavo in sandwich mode
Slavo in sandwich mode – Photos by Barbara Alexandra Lichtblau-Zakrzanska

The omens weren’t good upon arriving in Austria as the heavens opened with all their might to cacophonous thunder and a skyline illuminated by the sharpest lightening not to mention the small matter of torrential rain. With the team huddled in the changing room there was some initial doubt as to whether the match would take place, but it is rugby after all, so the game went as scheduled upon conclusion of the old timer’s fixture.

The usual compliment of players was accompanied by some first timers and bolstered by some of our Hungarian brothers and as we assembled in the huddle in our pre-game ritual there was a mixture of intent and awe which I was hopeful would be translated into powerful performances.

Big Max trying to steal the ball during the linout against Celtic Vienna
Big Max trying to steal the ball during the linout against Celtic Vienna Photos by Barbara Alexandra Lichtblau-Zakrzanska

As the game started both sides were feeling each other out, but it was noticeable that the Vienna side relished the contact element of the sport and were buoyed as much by a good tackle as they were a try. RKB put some useful phaseplay together but all too often it’s; phase 1, ruck, pass then drop and all attempts to go wide would prove ultimately futile. Celtic Vienna conversely a team that train twice a week sometimes and bolstered by local and private funding looked a well drilled team who capitalized on exceptionally weak defense. As I coach I am heartened by the positives but in defense other than a couple of players who know who they are the tackling was appalling.

Simple you miss tackles you lose matches and after the first 4/5 tries it was only then RKB got the bit between their teeth and really made the ‘pick and go’ effective and for about 15 minutes and centimeters away from the opposition try line, the fight, might and resolve that we are so used became evident, alas to no avail.

In the second half again, there were large passages of play where Giaccomo/Max/Giusseppe carried and carried, and Charlie and Jonathan/Julius tackled and tackled but we couldn’t make inroads in an unrelenting defense and credit to the Austrian opposition who converted most of their opportunities even from depth and probably felt left a few points out there also.

So, what did we learn from this? Clearly a huge mismatch and a gulf in abilities and physicality – we need to recruit more athletes and need to focus a lot more on the basics as ever. I am proud and was proud we stood toe to toe with these boys who boasted several internationals and as an experience incomparable and one we should cherish. But we shouldn’t relish losing our focus is to get better and convince new people to come and get hooked on the rugby drug so one day we can go back and play like we know we can and give them a real game. There’s no shame in losing only shame in not improving.

A big shout out to the new Slovak contingent and Gwen on the wing some of whom are coming to terms with rugby and showed great resolve considering the uphill struggle everyone faced, there’s absolutely no harm other a bruised body learning to play the game in events like these. Basics boys;

catch/tackle/pass once you do these a million times over without thinking or erring then you’re a rugby player until then put the work in!

Report by Zulf – trainer backs RK Bratislava

Photos by Barbara Alexandra Lichtblau-Zakrzanska