Old Boys Praha – Association of Czech Rugby Veterans have celebrated their 25th anniversary (a Quarter-Century of their existence!) in 2013 and on this occasion organised as 5th Old Golden Prague – International Rugby Veteran Event 2013 an exceptional event, the biggest in the history of the Czech Rugby: 12th European Golden Oldies Festival 2013 in June 13-17, 2013.
I. History of EGOR Festivals
European Grand Old Rugby (hereinafter stated as “EGOR”) is an independent Association of European Oldies Rugby Teams and Clubs established during the Split Festival in 2002. In December 2002, EGOR was accepted as the Official European Governing Body for Oldies Rugby, by FIRA / AER, now Rugby Europe.
However, the first ever meeting of European Rugby Oldies took place already 10 years before that on June 5-8, 1992 in s´-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands). EGOR was there just as a regional part of Air New Zealand Golden Oldies Rugby which had organised World Golden Oldies Rugby Festivals since 1979.
After s´-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) in 1992, Heidelberg (Germany) in May 1994, Verona (Italy) in 1996, Aberdeen (Scotland) in September 1998, Moscow (Russia) in 2000, Split (Croatia) in May 30 – June 1, 2002, Benidorm (Spain) in May 6 – 9, 2004, Zürich (Switzerland) in June 22 – 25, 2006, Madeira (Portugal) in June 19 – 23, 2008, Caernarfon (Wales) in June 2010 and finally Trieste (for the second time in Italy) in June 14 – 19, 2012, Prague in the Czech Republic was another venue – Venue Number 12, which hosted the EGOR Festival.
It was the first time that the European Festival had taken place in Central Europe and we are proud that it was in Prague, Czech Republic.
The following table shows the history of European Golden Oldies at glance:
|1||1992||s -Hertogenbosh||The Netherlands||18||8||290|
|9||2008||Funchal – Madeira||Portugal||41||15||1500|
II. Process of Preparation
The official announcement about Prague as the hosting city of EGORF 2013 was declared during the Closing Banquet of EGORF 2012 in Trieste, Italy which was one of the biggest European Festivals in EGOR History. Since 2011, the initial Organising Committee had started their work and originally it consisted of only a few members as follows: Andrej Hronec (Chairman), Jiří Livers (President OBP), Vladislav Petras (Honorary President OBP) and Viktor Hlaváč (partner for hotels and transport). First tasks included booking preliminary accommodation capacities, negotiations concerning pitches and ground facilities, negotiations on possible bonuses and discounts for the participants of the Festival with first main partners, etc.
In February 2013 the EGOR Delegation lead by Dave McDonald – EGOR President and Matthias Schenker – Secretary General and Werner Czerny – Member of Executive Committee came to Prague to check the status of preparations of EGORF 2013. The Delegation was warmly welcomed in the Prague City Hall and met with representatives of the main partners of the Festival like Prague Convention Bureau, Czech Tourism, Estec Accommodation Agency, Czech Airlines, Czech Rugby Union etc.
At that time a lot of work had already been done: about 2500 beds in 30 hotels of various price levels have been arranged to be available for participants of EGORF 2013; a complex of 3 pitches and facilities of RC Říčany near to Prague contracted for the Festival; various bonuses arranged with cooperation with main partners like interesting discounts for flights with Czech Airlines, free tickets for public transport in Prague, 1 beer for 1 EUR action of Pardubice Brewery during all Festival days, free tickets to the Ambassador Night Club, various trips and an optional programme for reasonable prices for a day-off, etc. etc. The main partners were presented to EGOR Delegation, especially Prague Municipality, Estec – Hotel Management Comp., Czech Rugby Union, Rugby Club Říčany, Prague Convention Bureau, Czech Airlines, Czech Tourism, Czech Convention Bureau, etc.
When the Festival started, about 1000 persons came with 30 teams from 13 different countries from the whole Europe. One overseas team came from Israel and for the 1st time a team from Gibraltar took part in EGOR Festival!
Organisation of games was made in 2 Age Categories: in Golden Category for teams with players of 35-50 years old and Platinum Category for players 50 + years old. 20 teams from 9 countries played the Golden Category, 10 teams from 8 countries played the Platinum Category.
Final List of teams:
|Golden Category||Country||Team Manager|
|Cissou Boys Montpellier||France||Jean-François Louvet|
|Elders of Zion||Israel||Ed Freedman|
|Fossy Bears Bern||Switzerland||Beat Schneider|
|Gibraltar Bay Buccaneers||Gibraltar||Paul Foster|
|Golden Oldies St. Peterburg||Russia||Igor Kravets|
|I Cangrandi Verona||Italy||Massimo Zanon|
|La Seleçao||France||Davy Prault|
|Legio Roma||Italy||Franco Lancellotti|
|Les Aix Entriques||France||Franck Negri|
|Les Bisonquinze Besançon||France||Francis Boucher|
|Les Musquets de la Leze||France||Stephane Lapierre|
|Moravian-Silesian Eagles||Czech Republic||Vladimír Smička|
|Old Boys Praha||Czech Republic||Vladimír Kodytek|
|Old Boys Říčany||Czech Republic||Tomáš Kohout|
|Old Boys Vyškov||Czech Republic||Antonín Kocourek|
|Old Rugby Civitavecchia||Italy||Memmo Nastasi|
|OPLA Bera Bera Donostia San Sebastian||Spain||Juan Nieva Telleria|
|St. Bernadettes Old Boys||England||Bob Hacker|
|Spring Cows Zurich||Switzerland||Ivan Sobotka|
|Urogalli Tandoi Udine||Italy||Sergio Bracci|
|Platinum Category||Country||Team Manager|
|All Greens||Russia||Vladimir Dorofeev|
|Brandenburg Adler||Germany||Jan-Marcus Lehmann|
|Cissou Boys Montpellier||France||Jean-François Louvet|
|Frankfurter Bembelschwenker||Germany||Rolf Keppler|
|Ragbi 59 Split||Croatia||Zoran Derado|
|Prague Platinum Turtles||Czech Republic||Martin Veselý|
|Rheinland Methusalems||Germany||Franz-Josef Kersting|
|Swiss Gnomes Zurich||Switzerland||Ivan Sobotka|
|Vintage Vikings||Sweden||Stefan Landgren|
|Y GOGS Caernarfon||Wales||Brian Roberts|
Totally 13 different countries were represented by their own teams in the Festival: Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Israel, Italy, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales.
The Festival started with the arrival of participants before June 13, 2013 and then on Thursday June 13, 2013 by Festival Welcome Party at Obecní dům (Municipality House) in the centre of Prague where all participants could meet for the first time. After initial drinks and food, welcome speeches were made by the Organising Committee, who introduced all participating teams and opened officially the Festival, so the party could start. Traditional Rock´n´Roll Band played all well-known hits and finally the late night surprise show was performed by lady artistes of Ambassador Night Club…
On Friday June 14, 2013 Day 1 of Gamesstarted. All matches were played within one location on 3 pitches in Říčany – a small town near to Prague. Totally 29 games played on during Day 1 from which 8 within the Platinum Category and 21 within the Golden Category. All games played in a friendly atmosphere where the results were not important.
EGOR Annual Meeting chaired by the President EGOR Dave McDonald took place in the RC Říčany club house during the lunch break. Among other important items of the official agenda, San Sebastian was confirmed as a venue of the next EGORF 2015.
On Saturday June 15, 2013, the participants had a day off during which they could choose from the offer of trips and optional programme.
On Sunday June 16, 2013, the Festival had Day 2 of Games on the programme with remaining portion of 30 games from which 8 in Platinum category and 22 in Goilden Category, so totally 59 games from which 16 games within the Platinum Category and the rest of 43 games in Golden Category were played during both Days of Games… Sunny weather, very good conditions of all pitches, good level of all games played with Oldies spirit and last but not least, also reasonable prices of catering services – all this was positively commented by participants. The medical assistance was ready during both days but no serious injuries were necessary to solve.
For the first time in the history of Old Golden Prague Events, the 5th edition had no final winner because according to the philosophy of Golden Oldies Rugby, all teams participating in the Festival won regardless of the real result of the respective game…
On Sunday June 16, 2013 in the evening, the Festival Closing Party took place at Pavillon E of Výstaviště Praha Holešovice (Prague-Holešovice Exhibition Area). Final ceremonies included various awards: each team received a glass trophy and an official team photo. As according to the Golden Oldies principles, all teams won, the only ranking declared was made among the eldest players of the festival who were awarded by commemorative medals and a glass Festival trophy.
5 eldest players of the EGORF 2013 were:
- Michel Plana, France – Cissou Boys Montpellier, 5.3.1934, 79y, centre;
- Jurij Deineko, Russia – Moscow All Greens, 1.4.1938, 75y, flanker;
- Bob Dean, Switzerland – Swiss Gnomes, 12.4.1938, 75y, lock;
- Slávek Petras, Czech Republic – Old Boys Praha, 7.8.1939, 74y, fullback;
- Siniša Tartaglia, Croatia – Ragbi 59 Split, 20.1.1940, 73y, flyhalf
President EGOR Dave McDonald then made a closing speech during which he thanked the Organising Committee for their work and hospitality and wished good luck to the organiser of the next festival in San Sebastian in 2015. At the end of the official part Andrej Hronec as Chairman of the Organising Committee of EGORF 2013 passed a new trophy – EGORF Rotary Cup for the organiser of the next EGORF 2015 to a representative of San Sebastian, Spain who made a brief presentation of the next festival.
The girls hard rock group The Apples started the non-formal part of the evening with support of the dancing group of Edita Broukalová´s Cheerleaders from which the majority of the participants worked also as team guides for some teams during the festival. Unlimited food and drinks were availbale during the evening which culminated in a great dancing party.
The last night of the Festival was not the last night in Prague for some teams who stayed in Prague 1 or 2 days more before their final departure home, all saving nice souvenirs and looking forward to the next 2015 Festival in San Sebastian!
IV. Closing Remarks
The Organising Committee were starting their works with the motto: „EGORF 2013 in Prague – mission possible!“, and after all that they could finally say: „Mission accomplished“!
At the end, the Organising Committee has grown from a rather limited number of persons to the following final crew: Andrej Hronec (Chairman), Viktor Hlaváč and Petra Dušková (hotels, transport), Martin Turek (Finance Manager), Vladislav Petras (President OBP, various organisational matters), Daniela Slušová (Head of Team Guides), Martin Veselý (Accounts Supervisor, parties), Alexej Dohnal (beer organisation), Jiří Livers (ex-President OBP, games organisation, referees), Vladimír Kodytek (Captain, referees, official pictures collection management), Luděk Kudláček (merchandises, souvenirs), Martin Charvát (media), Jaroslav Vinický (official video production), Ladislav Pošík and Ladislav Říha (partnerships), Patrick Paťha (partnerships, cheerleaders),Juraj Razga (teams organization), Tomáš Jadrníček, Antonín Vosátka, Jiří Beníšek, Karel Zeiner, Petr Jaroš, Roman Trča (all volunteers), and it is necessary to mention also other 22 people as Team Guides (Tereza Buřilová, Kateřina Půbalová, Lenka Pospíšilová, Savina Finardi, Tereza Broukalová, Marta Svobodová, Michaela Černá, Monika Zeinerová, Pamela Křečková, Pavel Pytela, Aneta Hroncová, Jana Šlechtová, Klára Muranová, Anička Řečková, Alena Smržová, Lucie Halamová, Timea Borsová, Radka Čížková, Marie Motyčková, Roman Huzych, Jana Nováková, Kateřina Černá), mainly girls from a Cheerleader Group. It was typical for friendly atmosphere of the Festival, that some of these girls were even invited by their respective teams to play with them and although they mostly played rugby for the first time in their life, it was commented that some of them played rather well!
Final thanks belong to all partners of the Festival, especially to Estec Hotel Management Comp., Rugby Club Říčany, Prague Convention Bureau, Pardubice Brewery, PartyStanyHned.cz – Party Management Comp., Czech Airlines, Czech Tourism, Czech Convention Bureau. Prague Municipality, Czech Rugby Union, etc.
The event. was finally highly appreciated by the Czech Rugby Union. EGORF 2013 was awarded as the Event of the Year 2013 during the Annual Meeting of the Czech Rugby Union in February 2014.
Andrej Hronec, On Dec. 29, 2014