Rovers continue international development
Pennine Premier League club Sharlston Rovers have welcomed Czech players, David Lahr and Jan Buben, to their playing roster.
The BARLA National Cup holders have followed last season’s pioneering hosting of two Russians by inviting the Czechs to spend a season at the Yorkshire club to help bolster their games and to more broadly assist in the continued growth of rugby league in the central European nation.
Forward Lahr, 22, founded the Czech club Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels after being introduced to the sport while studying at the University of Pardubice. The versatile Buben, 19, was a key member of the Beroun Black Panthers 2010 Czech Championship winning team.
Both were members of the Czech Republic national team’s Euro Bowl 2011 success against Hungary in July.
Sharlston, in conjunction with Unison, have helped both players to find work to fund their stay in England.
Lahr’s excitement was evident on his departure to England. “To spend a season living in England and playing rugby league with a well run and successful club like Sharlston was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse,” he said. “I only started playing league three years ago so I have a lot to learn and Northern England is the best place for that!”
Buben is equally keen to make the most of this opportunity. “I’ve played league since it started in the Czech Republic five years ago and I love the game and want to improve. I am confident of doing well in the Pennine League,” he commented.
Iain Sellers, a founder of the Czech Rugby League Association (CZRLA) in 2006, added, “We (CZRLA) cannot thank Sharlston enough for giving these two youngsters the life changing experience of living and working in a different country. Sharlston epitomise the community based club spirit that we are trying to grow in the Czech Republic through rugby league. It is obvious that spending a season playing in Yorkshire will improve the lads’ technical and physical skills on the pitch but we hope that it will also give them an appreciation of the organisational, administrative and social skills needed to run a successful organisation. Sharlston’s vision in hosting players from developing nations can only be a positive for the growth of the game in developing nations. We hope others will follow their lead.”
Ironically, in the first game after resumption of the Czech Republic’s 2011 domestic season, the two players‘ former clubs met and in a high-scoring, upset result, Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels hosting and defeating the reigning champions and previously unbeaten Beroun, 48-40, throwing open the championship race.