Poland has become a popular destination for touring rugby clubs of all ages and levels and touring off-season teams in rugby 15s, 10s,7s and beach rugby. The surrounding European countries flock to Poland all year round to participate in arranged friendlies or take part in the various tournaments. Every year the attendances at these events is forever increasing as Poland’s rugby scene gains more interest and a higher profile thanks to a concerted effort of all the Ekstraliga, Poland’s premiership clubs drive to appeal to a wider audience which in turn is attracting the more well-known rugby countries such as the UK, France and Italy to put Poland’s community tournaments on their end of season team tour options list. To make your tour organisation easier there are specialised companies providing all kinds of services to assist you on and off the field of play.
One of the fastest rising tournaments in popularity is the Krakow Rugby Festival which is held on every 3rd weekend in June. The KRF as the organisers refer to it collaborate with local Ekstraliga team Juvenia Krakow RFC who provide their stadium and facilities and the KRF organisers providing on and off field services and entertainment. The annual KRF tournament has teams from all over the world passing a weekend of exhibition men’s rugby 10s with the women playing in the 7s format and travelling referee groups are invited to participate. Apart from the rugby qualifiers on the Saturday and all finals on the Sunday there is the Friday night meet & greet party and the Grand Gala Dinner when the tournament finishes. Keeping in fine form with rugby tradition an organiser who is also Juvenia’s Ambassador for International relations told me that most important feature of unlimited beer and cider during the whole weekend at the parties and playing field. Also the KRF run visits for teams wishing to visit the Auschwitz/Birkenau Memorial and other Krakow nearby sightseeing tours. If you do stay on that extra couple of days then it is recommended to try out the many activities the KRF organisers can offer you during the day time such as white water rafting at the Krakow Olympic circuit or and evening river cruise dinner or party on the Vistula River. However, if the tournament does not suit your calendar dates then you can always visit Krakow and play a friendly with a same level host team with BBQ ‘n Beer post-match.
Krakow 7s, U.19 Tournament
The Krakow Sevens is a fantastic relatively new tournament catering for the juniors with girls U.19s and boys U.19s and U.16s competitions taking place at Juvenia Krakow’s ground from September 4th until the 5th. The opening party dinner in the ground’s restaurant followed by the group qualifying stage on the Saturday then all finals on Sunday with an after party including live music. After a successful inaugural 2019 tournament which saw young enthusiastic rugby players from Denmark, Ukraine, Austria, Sweden and Poland battle it out for the U19s Champion’s title. Hot favourites for to retain the boys U.19 winners cup are in fact the home team of Juvenia Krakow Juniors who also got to the final of the prestigious Dubai 7s Junior Tournament earlier in the year and the Juvenia Girls team will be looking to hold on the Krakow Sevens Girls Champions Cup.
Warsaw Rugby Festival
The Warsaw yearly 10s for men and 7s for women were originally two separate tournaments, they were the Lad’s Warsaw 10’s and Ladies 7’s Grand Prix and now managed by Warsaw Frogs RFC and Co RFC who combine all their experience and talents to stage this long running tournament in Poland’s capital city takes place in the latter part of the month of May. The merger has proved to be a success and like the KRF in Krakow exhibition rugby, fun partying and rugby traditions are key and paramount to satisfying the international competitors who challenge themselves to last the pace of the weekend both on and off the field. Warsaw Frogs RFC also arrange friendlies with travelling teams on tour.
Sopot Beach Rugby
Now in its 8th year as Poland’s most sought out rugby in the sand tournament on the Baltic Sea featuring teams of all abilities. This games only last for a maximum of 5 minutes each half but it requires plenty of replacements as running on sand will drain your energy and stamina in seconds. The rules are simplified to keep the game constant and no breaks except at half-time. Beach rugby is a new challenge for rugbyists and the social aspects are highlighted with sun, sea and fresh air plus copious amounts of the amber liquid to revive you. Sopot’s 2 day tournament runs continuously from early morning to late afternoon and finishes with a beach party for all participating teams, Sopot is also part of the Tri-City area which includes Gdansk and Gdynia should you wish to take in the sights. If you as a team tour organiser have never visited Poland on tour or even as a group of rugby playing friends then put these tournaments on the tour destination list. Those of you that have will want to come back again as Poland’s rugby scene and hospitality is second to none. Every year we see the noble sport of rugby becoming increasingly popular with televised games at both club and international levels plus the experiences that the tournaments offer from playing against teams from different countries can only be regarded as a positive incentive that rugby in Poland going in the right direction. Let’s not forget that while your main objective is to play rugby take time out to enjoy each location that has its own unique charm and atmosphere for visitors from Krakow’s historical Royal city and buzzing nightlife, Warsaw’s stoic architecture and urban zone life and Sopot being the trendiest place to be seen in summer all have one thing in common that great worldwide understanding and respect for the values of rugby, the spirit of rugby.