A copy of The Rugby Journal came through my letterbox this week. It is always a treat. In a world where sports journalism can feel like a frenetic scroll through clickbait and listicles, the magazine prides itself as the “home of big rugby reads”, providing a platform for thoughtful in-depth articles illustrated with beautiful photography.
From grassroots to the elite game, The Rugby Journal focuses on the strength of the human story and its cultural context. It has also treated women’s rugby with equal respect long before the rest of the oval ball media caught up – a striking portrait of Jaz Joyce graces the cover of the current edition.
And for me there was an even more compelling reason to read this particular edition – it contains a tale of European rugby that is very close to home. This is the headline: “Stories of resistance attacks against the Nazis, Soviet show trials and the hell of wartime Poland filled their heads. They didn’t need to understand every word spoken by their Welsh coach. This was the team talk to end all team talks. Germany never stood a chance.”
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That Welsh coach is my nephew Christian Hitt. And the feature, written by rugby commentator and journalist Jack Zorab, tells the remarkable story of how Chris and his backroom staff of former Scarlets and Wales full-back Morgan Stoddart and Cross Keys coach Gwesyn Price-Jones, have propelled Poland into world rugby’s second tier at the end of their first season in charge.
Entry was secured last weekend with the bonus point win they needed against Lithuania to gain promotion to the Rugby Europe Championship – the tournament below the Six Nations where the likes of World Cup-qualifying Georgia and Spain reside.
But the pivotal match in Poland’s campaign came in November against their fiercest rival Germany – a 21-16 victory that saw an intense second half fightback from the home team. My two brothers were there to see it in Gdynia while the rest of the family streamed it live back home.
We took huge pride in Chris’s achievement. He has liv
…. to be continued
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