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Rugby union in Lithuania

Rugby union in Lithuania is a minor but growing sport.

Rugby union in Lithuania
Israel - Lithuania 23-5-2009-4.JPG
Lithuania playing Israel
CountryLithuania
National team(s)Lithuania
First played1961
Registered players1,650 [1]
Clubs15
National competitions
Club competitions
Lithuanian Rugby Championship

Governing BodyEdit

The Lithuanian Rugby Federation was founded in 1961 and joined the IRB in 1992 after Lithuanian had regained its independence.[2] Although the union was formed in the 1960s, it was not considered a full-fledged national union until after the breakup of the USSR.

HistoryEdit

Soviet EraEdit

Rugby union arrived in Lithuania in the 1960s. The first domestic game was played in 1961. Lithuania was never a stronghold of rugby in the USSR. The game was mainly played in Russia and Georgia. In 1949 rugby union was forbidden in the USSR during the "fight against the cosmopolitanism". The competitions were resumed in 1957, and the Soviet Championship in 1966. In 1975 the Soviet national team played their first match.[3]

Lithuania had its own national rugby team in the USSR, but it was not treated as an international side.

Post-independenceEdit

Rugby is spread across the country with Šiauliai as the sport's stronghold. There are rugby clubs in all major Lithuanian cities. Some smaller towns only have junior teams. The climate in the country hinders the development of the sport, because the ground is frozen for four months of the year. Snow rugby is played in winter.

The game has experienced some growth in the independence period particularly following the record-breaking performances by the Lithuania national rugby union team in the European Nations Cup. There is some rivalry with neighbours Latvia who were the better side in the 1990s. However, in recent years Lithuania has dominated the fixtures.

Rugby is amateur in Lithuania. The only professional player to have come out of Lithuania is Karolis Navickas who in 2012 signed for Union Bordeaux Bègles.[4]

Women's rugbyEdit

Currently there are rugby women's rugby teams in Klaipėda, Marijampolė and Vilnius. Another two are in the building. Rugby sevens is the dominant variant. Although Lithuania's women are yet to play test match rugby, they have been playing international sevens rugby since 2005. (Current playing record).

CompetitionsEdit

The main national competition is the Lithuanian Rugby Championship, currently disputed by 7 teams in the I Group.[5] They are:

  • Vairas-Supoja Šiauliai
  • Baltrex Šiauliai
  • RK Šiauliai
  • Azuolas Kaunas
  • Tauras-VRA Vilnius
  • Kursiai Klaipedia
  • Stats-Kekava (from Riga, Latvia)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2011-09-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1) p71
  3. ^ Rugby union in Russia and USSR (in Russian)
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]

External linksEdit