10th April 2012 - this morning we had our hopes of a competitive fixture dashed when the team from Lebanon's American University of Beirut cancelled after having been unable to recover from their devastating 106-0 loss to Serbia's indomitable champions Dorcol RLFC.
Since Dorcol recently demolished us 106-6, we figured this one was ours 6-0 for sure ;)
Dorcol sent six of their players to hospital and completely demolished and demoralised them, just as they've done to every other club team not from France or the UK since around 2009.
Judging by reports, we would probably also have beaten the AUB team comfortably, though probably with less bloodshed.
In my opinion, there probably isn't a rugby league team in the northern hemisphere (beyond the UK & France... and maybe Russia) that could take on the might of Dorcol at this moment.
Red Star and the other teams in Dorcol's league (let's face it, it is ‘their' league from top to bottom) are in the best position to close the gap...
This all comes on the back of an excellent Red Star team ‘jolly' in Budapest: - six hours on the bus from Belgrade Friday evening, hostel in the city centre, Saturday afternoon friendly (but really friendly) game with a bunch of union-convert expats and Irish hurlers (with a smattering of young Hungarian talent that was nice to see) - 72-8 to us; hot grub and beer, night on the razzle, back to Belgrade on the Sunday.
We had a great time and the bonding experience certainly made the trip worthwhile, but competing against teams that are 40-80 points beneath us does not prepare us for the intensity of the dreaded Dorcol (cue Star Wars Imperial March).
In all honesty, the only solution is probably for us to play Dorcol more often...maybe 6 times a year, but that would entail one of two things to happen: 1.) for us to start physically kicking ten bells out of each other at training and systematising our foul play and provocative urban tribalism, or for Dorcol to stop doing those things.
Dorcol has a key role to play and a responsibility as the benchmark rugby league club in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. The Rugby League European Federation has a duty of care to ensure that Dorcol continues setting a benchmark for the sport in this region, but Dorcol's players and coaches simply have to clean up their game! Tackles slip high, that's fair enough; ball carriers fall into shoulders, its true; ankles and knees get twisted all the time, though usually by accident; stray fists accidentally hit jaws from time to time, but this has gone beyond a joke.
"rugby league's blend of brutality, skill and endurance is what makes it great".
Big hits are fine and we want them in the game; intimidating the opponent psychologically is also part and parcel of the game, within reason, but systematised foul play and excessive, often seemingly uncontrolled violence is not the way forward for our game. And besides, the Dorcol boys don't even need it! They're fitter, stronger, better trained, game-plan conscious, passionate, aggressive, loyal, have the referees in their pockets... why do they also need to be a gang of fouling madmen on the field? - even though they're almost all great guys off the field.