The four of the Baltic League and the development of local players – Livonia reveals the “cards” of the season / Diena

Vigo Valdavs, co-founder and president of “Livonia”:

We must first say thank you to our supporters, without whom we would not be in such readiness and could not move forward, thank you to the journalists who continue to cover rugby, thank you to the coaches and most of all thank you to the players, because without the players we would not be sitting here at all. The activities of the club are adapted to the sustainability of the club, because activities aimed at quick results do not give much return. We have a well-structured club structure, which has its own goals and objectives – both in the direction of young people and adults. You don’t always have to go to the field and necessarily win, but there are completely different tasks. Development often comes from these other tasks. We have started the sustainability of the club and a serious direction of development.

There is a pleasant activity in the youth segment, we have concluded a cooperation agreement with the Riga Rugby Club, which will prepare young players for our big club. Its benefits are both geographical and qualitative. After the years of covid, we have already set specific tasks and the club at all levels knows what needs to be done and what is expected of them.

To some extent, the actions of the new LRF management are pleasing. After what was before, at least the visual and organizational work looks good. But let’s count the chickens in three years.

Marta Ozola, “Livonia” board member:

There are changes in the club in the organizational and sports field. Gregors Gorohovskis continues to work in the management, manager Elīza Zemitāne is attached to the women’s and youth movement, Marcis Rullis will be the main coach for the men, he will be assisted by Nikolaj Petjunin and Vilmar Sokolov. They will help the second rugby-15 team more, but the “sevens” will be helped by Edmundas Szczawinskis. Donovan Du Randt, who himself is recovering from an injury, is helping us both in rugby-15 and sevens. A Georgian coach is still attached to rugby-15, but Neil Johnson will join in the TOP league season, who will take over the duties of the head coach at that time.

The aim is to attract more players, both young and to bring back to rugby old players and those who left for various reasons. Last season we saw that we can do a lot and realize interesting projects, but in order to exist in the long term, we must have our own base and a place for our players to grow. This year, we are competing in the Latvian championship with an interesting lineup, because the main thing will be the involvement of young players and the development of their skills. In the men’s sevens, we want to fight for first place with Miesnieki and Baldoni, who have very successfully shown themselves as strong candidates for the 7th championship title, but in the second half of the summer, we will already compete with two teams on the Baltic scale – both in the TOP league and in the Baltic championship (second-level competition). In the TOP league, the goal of the first team is four. The success of the last season imposes a certain sense of duty, but you have to face the truth – “Ažuolas”, “Vairas”, “Baltrex” do not ask for comments, Šaulias is coached by the coach of the seventh national team Zibolis, while VRA is engaged by a coach from Wales. We will try to achieve more, but the main goal is TOP 4. Also this year, we will continue the project started, where we offer players from other clubs and abroad to develop their skills with high-level specialists and compete in high-level competitions, pleasing the widest possible rugby community, so we invite those interested to apply to Gregor or in e-mail [email protected].

The women’s team has a separate coaching staff, which includes the coach of the Latvian national team, Antonio Karvalju, who has developed a development program for the entire Latvian girls’ rugby family. We took advantage of the fact that he is available for additional projects, and now he has taken charge of our girls and integrates them into the big plans. In our team, the places of experienced players continue to be occupied by ladies who until recently were “young”, playing one or two seasons. The plan is to defend second place and develop the girls’ section. Last year, we managed to attract several girls who came from floorball and basketball, who very quickly reached the necessary level to compete for second place. This year we have to strengthen, ensure a meaningful winter season and next year we have to fight for the first place.

Marcis Rullis, head coach of the “Livonia” men’s team

In the Latvian rugby-15 championship, we will have a development season. We have a list of 15-16 players who played in the main team last year, and I can choose 6-8 players from these players for the Latvian Championship. The rest will be those who didn’t get to play as much, plus the youth, because the youth don’t play rugby-15. As we have very promising players, we involve them in big rugby, which was proved by the first game, when many were pleasantly surprised. That’s why Latvia will think more about development, we also plan to play according to this plan in the “golden” game against “Miesnieki”.

In rugby-7, we have already held two tournaments in Lithuania, including youth. In the first one, they wanted better results, but in the second one could see that the fighting spirit and cohesion of the team was developing. This weekend, on Saturday, we still play the “sevens” in Šiauliai, where we will try to start with the best lineup. Then right away on Sunday the game against “Hedgehogs”, as a tense end is expected. After that, the Latvian Cup, where we want to field two men’s teams, which will play in the TOP League and the Baltic League, respectively, later in the summer.

Enzo Ignacio Beltramino, captain of the Livonia team

The team has a very good atmosphere, if we remember the successful start in the Baltic League at the end of last season. The new players come into the team and you can see that they feel good here. If we let them play freely, get into the big group, then they could “flourish”. We have done a good job with the new ones and we are in the right direction. I am pleasantly surprised to be chosen as captain. Even though I’m not local and I’m in the team for the third year, the club trusts me and the guys trust me. Therefore, I will do everything to make Livonia the best team in Latvia again.

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