In Slovakia, the Rugby Federation XV, or also called Rugby Union, is rotten from within by corruption, petty mafia, and a lack of ambition.
Indeed, in 2017, following the suicide of the general manager of the Slovak Rugby Union, two Czech people took power of the Slovak Rugby Union. What bothers us, as Slovaks or residents of Slovakia, is that number 1 and number 2 do not live in the country, play or manage a club in Slovakia. All important decisions are made abroad, with people sitting behind their screens, and far from the realities of Slovakian rugby.
We could mention various actions going against the development of rugby in Slovakia. However, to summarize these last 5 years of suffering, we will stick to factual and measurable elements.
Abused of the public funds
First of all, the Slovak state government money is in the hands of two people living outside of Slovakia, that is 30,000 eur. Previously, the largest private sponsor of Slovak rugby was RESPECT insurance paying 20,000 eur. Our Bratislava rugby club has never received equipment since 2017, when the two Czech managers took power.
When we analyze the expenses, we see that another club benefited from several thousand euros in aid for transport costs. While our players pay the costs out of pocket.
Regarding expenses, we can mention a significant amount of restaurant, hotel and transport costs. Which is obvious when the management is based abroad. By nature, there will always be additional costs, which a local manager would not pass on to the federation. Yet another aberration.
In connection with the teaching of rugby, refereeing, rugby academy, no investment has been made for years. The referees not being paid, all members involved have left rugby and are no longer active. Obviously, no renewal either with future referees. Therefore, anyone wishing to organize a rugby match must rely on their own resources to find a referee. In the same way, there was no rugby academy and therefore no possibility of creating training sessions. We must hope for the experience and dedication of volunteers, rugby players with seniority abroad.
In terms of advertising, same story. No aid is given to promote rugby. Attracting people is difficult, not impossible but difficult. Club managers face this challenge alone.
Management of the national XV team facing the development of local rugby.
This messy XV federation spams rugby managers to send club players, without benefit in exchange. With improbable situations, for example when we have official rugby 7s or rugby XV matches with a very small workforce, we receive the order to provide players. Knowing that no help is provided for recruitment, training, equipment and land, and marketing. A kind of forced tax to give to the lord, it’s like being in the middle ages.
As far as the national XV team is concerned, it’s just a Zavatta circus. The majority of players are Czech, due to the former Czechoslovakia. Therefore, it is enough to draw in Czechia mercenaries to stamp a Slovak authorization.
Knowing that investment and experience is given mainly to foreigners, Slovaks do not benefit from this. At each competition, local players based in slovakia watch European competitions from a distance. So the level of rugby in Slovakia is not increasing, on the contrary, as well as everyone’s motivation.
A messy schedule without ambition
There has always been a two-headed serpet with on one side a Czech manager leading the national team and working alone in his corner. While on the other, club managers trying to survive, to organize games and a Slovak championship.
However, several times the Slovak domestic championship was dormant for several weeks or even months in the middle of the sports season.
Indeed, favoring preparation matches for the national team, the clubs were deprived of 50% of their workforce more or less depending on the contribution. As a result, we looked to Vienna and Brno, Sopron to find friendlies to complete our schedule, as well as rugby tour matches with foreign teams. Thanks to this, the last years we were able to get the most home and away matches, for adults and children.
The most embarrassing in this story is the lack of recognition and sporting strategy to grow rugby in Slovakia. Club players can make the national team grow, but not the other way around. Now in 2022, we find ourselves at an impasse where both quantity and quality are lacking with no reversible effect. We are facing a sports black hole with no solution.
In addition, 2017, 5 years already, we were constantly in a hurry to provide players for the national team (with a masquerade in Popovice rugby 7s grassroot rugby), while many clubs were close to bankruptcy. Today, several rugby union clubs have closed their doors: Kosice, Bardejob, Trnava.
Creation of new clubs in Slovakia, lack of support
To quote the creation and fall of three clubs in Slovakia: Mikulas, Sala, Nitra. These clubs are the fruit of the friendship between the players and the desire to make rugby grow. However, good motivation is not enough. No financial, equipment, logistical, or land support has been provided to these clubs. Given that club managers are already very busy with their daily tasks, it is difficult to invest more time and money in the expansion of new clubs. Therefore these three clubs are dead.
When comparing other central European countries with coaches who are paid for the development of rugby on a full-time or part-time basis, one clearly sees a lack of willingness of Rugby XV Slovak to invest in local rugby. We are always in denial of reality with a national team made up of mercenaries and false licenses (for example, the selection of an English player residing less than a year in Slovakia).
The managers never bothered to visit and meet the new managers of the new rugby clubs. They remain perched in their ivory tower, seated on their gilded throne.
False statistics to cover the reality
In Slovakia, as in developing rugby countries, the number one sport is providing false information. Often we have been asked to provide false statistics. Knowing that we never received any help, we very quickly stopped providing false data.
What is annoying is that this false information is given to the Slovak government and to World Rugby and Rugby Europe in order to obtain public funds, which will be used to fatten a mafia minority.
Rugby matches turning to a street fight
Since we are short of referees, all the last competitions have been organized with survival referees, people who do not have the qualification to referee. With some people confusing MMA and rugby, the field turned into a brawl with low kicks, cheating, and a bad mindset. Rugby is already struggling to grow in Slovakia, with such conditions death is guaranteed.
In 2022, there is only a hint of rugby union left in Slovakia with Beach rugby 5vs5 which is ridiculous when you consider the cumulative budget since 2017, around 400,000 eur. For such an amount, what remains? not much.
In addition, many general assemblies have been held in the Czech Republic, given the reorganization of management. So even the meetings are not held in Slovakia. In addition to the cost of transport and lost time, symbolically it is strong denial of Slovak rugby.
Insults post matches and online bullying
In Slovakia, the more important is not to win. Any new contester would be bullied online or face to face. As well, we have faced couple of time during official domestic matches, some teams called players from abroad to raise their level up and totally unbalance the fixture against some beginners and rugby dev.
Internal struggles, divide and rule
Corruption has tempted many people, also within the Rugby Klub Bratislava when some members have felt the wings grow. Against a beer, a gulas, and a low-end white t-shirt, we had to face some internal cheaters disclosing private information, personal data, and negotiating contracts outside their prerogative and without respect for common sense. Fortunately today these people have been fired from the club, in order to protect the whole sports group and especially the children.
The positive point of all this sporting and free suffering, and that the Rugby Klub Bratislava has set up a new federation in 2020, and after two years we are in the process of finalizing this process for European recognition. With extraordinary, motivated, and honest people, we have not progressed so far towards projects that we did not think possible.