Monday, 27 January 2020

Born and bred in New Zealand David Casey, like so many of his countrymen, is a rugby freak. He eats, sleeps and breathes rugby. The passion he has for the sport shines through with every mention of a player, a try, a stadium or “old friends” who are All Blacks. During his rugby career he played first class rugby for Taranaki a provincial New Zealand team who ironically recently just won the most coveted prize in NZ rugby the Ranfurly Sheild. So how does a semi professional rugby player end up in Cavtat training the Dubrovnik Invictus Rugby Club? When we heard that Casey had arrived in the city we just had to hear his story.

It’s a long way from New Zealand to Dubrovnik. How did you get involved with the Invictus rugby club Dubrovnik?

Let’s start right at the beginning. In 1998 I moved to Auckland and I meet the Croatian National Seven’s rugby team who were training to go to the World Cup in Hong Kong. I ended up training with them for five weeks whilst they were getting ready for that tournament. In fact that World Cup was Croatia’s greatest success in the rugby world as they almost defeated New Zealand.

So that was the beginning of my Croatian rugby story. I have to add that my mother’s father, or my grandfather, is from Croatia. He moved to New Zealand and my mother was born there. I have always said that I would love to travel at some point to Croatia and, quite strangely, through my Croatian born lawyer in New Zealand I got in contact with a team in Zagreb. So last year I arrived in Zagreb to train the RK Zagreb team. I was there for four months. However I have always wanted to live on the Adriatic so when I got the opportunity to come to Dubrovnik I grabbed it and I am glad I did.

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Casey playing against one of the greats of world rugby, Jonah Lomu, and feeling right at home in Cavtat

Where is Croatian rugby on worldwide scale? What is the level of the sport here and how would you compare it to other developing rugby nations?

The rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event on the planet. I think the ultimate man’s team sport, from a gladiator point of view, is rugby. In fact rugby is the fastest growing team sport in the world. Rugby in Croatia is just breathing; it’s in a flat line state, and needs fresh ideas and creative promotion and better organisation. One thing that could really bring life back to the sport here is to make it semi-professional. As well the media needs to be given more to work with. If the heads of the game here created some promotional events or feel-good stories then the sport would be more frequently in the media spotlight. It could be really big. The sport is still pretty much at a base level so there is only one way to go. The players are passionate and are willing to learn they just need better organisation and support behind them.

For example I would love to organise a match between the Croatian National Team and an international barbarian team in the near future. I am in a fortunate position here at Invictus in so much as we have a couple of very passionate rugby fans and leading Dubrovnik businessmen involved in the club. Without their help and knowledge it would be much harder to get the Invictus project going. A rugby club needs to be run as a business. When we can show other businesses in the region that being connected with the club is good for them, in terms of business networking and marketing, we will take another step forward.

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Casey planning to take Invictus and Croatian rugby onto the next level 

 Which league are Invictus in and what are your hopes for the future?

We are currently in the Croatian second division where there are five teams in the league. We have two teams from Zagreb in the league which will mean a bit of travelling for us.

Where would you like to see the Invictus rugby club in the future?

Firstly I would like to see us in the first Croatian division. Being the number one sevens side in Croatia and also playing in a European competition. Putting exhibition games on where we would host for example the Croatian national team and other international teams. And also getting creative with other promotional ideas to push rugby forward in the region and in the country.

Dubrovnik is a beautiful city and the rugby club can use this fact to help promote the sport to the rest of the region.

The future is bright but now is the time to act and start forcing home some of the ideas we have to bring rugby up to the level that it deserves.

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Casey playing in Austria for the RK Zagreb team 

 What has been the attitude of the players since you have been here?

Yes, all of the players have been very positive. The problem is not with the players the problems with the sport in Croatia is at a higher level. Rugby is a product and a product that is just waiting to be sold.

The British low-cost airline, EasyJet (U2 / EZY), announced its 2018 summer flight schedule. All flights are available for sale by September 2nd, 2018. EasyJet flies to 4 destinations in Croatia: Dubrovnik, Pula, Split and Zadar – reports Avioradar.

The most significant reduction in traffic is related to the closure of the base in Hamburg, which Easyjet leaves on March 24th next year and thereby removing the lines from Pula and Split to Hamburg. That means that there will be 2 flights per week less for Pula and 3 flights per week less for Split, compared to this year. All the other lines that EasyJet had this year will be in traffic during the summer of 2018.

Most lines will start flying earlier in 2018 than in 2017. There is a significant extension of the season, for example at the lines from Dubrovnik and Split to Amsterdam, which will start flying at the beginning of the summer flight schedule. The line Split - Milan (Malpensa Airport) will start 10 weeks earlier. The longest stretch will be on the Dubrovnik-Manchester line, that will begin 11 weeks earlier (May 5th) compared to 2017. On the other hand, some lines will start later, such as Dubrovnik – Belfast, which will start during the last week in June.

Pula has a stronger Pula - Bristol line with one extra flight per week, so the flights on Saturdays will be boosted by another flight every Wednesday. In Zadar, the line for London -Luton will be intensified in the pre-season and will start three weeks earlier, from May 5th, 2018.

Most lines have been announced for Split - 17 lines or 96 flights a week in the heart of the season. For Dubrovnik there are 16 lines with 55 flights per week, 4 lines for Pula with 10 flights per week, and two lines for Zadar with 5 flights per week.

A vast majority of people cannot imagine starting a day without one thing – coffee. It is no wonder that this favourite beverage has its day celebrated once a year on the 1st of October.

Coffee is one of the most popular hot beverages in the world; coffee lovers around the globe drink around 1.6 billion cups of coffee every day. There are two types of coffee – Arabica and Robusta, whilst the largest world coffee producer is Brazil, which produces almost twice as much as Vietnam and Columbia.

As far as Croats are concerned, they simply love coffee. According to some estimates, Croats drink three to four cups of coffee a day, maybe making the International Coffee day a National Holiday would be a good idea. There is even a cat cafe in Zagreb. They consider coffee as an invitation for gathering and socializing, as a break during the day or as a consolation. To most people coffee is the first thing they think of when they open their eyes in the morning.

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The International Coffee Day is an occasion that promotes and celebrates coffee as a beverage, with events now occurring in places across the world. The first official date was the 1st of October 2015, as agreed by the International Coffee Organization and was launched in Milan, Italy.

On this day, many businesses offer free or discounted cups of coffee. Some greeting card companies sell National Coffee Day greeting cards as well as free e-cards.

Dubrovnik Aquathlon was held yesterday for the second time and it was a great fun. Competition started at Beach Banje and competitors had a great challenge in front of them –swimming, followed by five kilometres of running.

As said, it all started at Banje, with a turn around in front of Hotel Excelsior, followed by Australian swing on the beach, and then a new round of 500 meters of swimming.
After the swim, the competitors ran along the stairs, took the racing equipment at Lazareti and headed for St. Jacob and back. The race ended on Ploce, behind the City, in front of the Gymnasium.

With competitors from Croatia, professionals and recreationalists from several other countries have competed.

Luka Dumancic and Zara Bakovic are the winners of the second Dubrovnik Aquatlhlon. Dumancic finished the race in 33 minutes, 42 seconds, while Bakovic needed 43 minutes and 20 seconds.




    Photos: Tonci Vlasic

October has begun and the beach in the Bay of Lapad yesterday saw swimmers and sunbathers enjoying the mild weather.

Temperatures on the first day of October reached 25 degrees and after a long hot summer the Adriatic Sea is still a warm 22 degrees. Yes, it might be a little chilly when you first step in but many swimmers proved yesterday that is glorious when you are in.

Check out our photo gallery from yesterday

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All the stars of the latest blockbuster to be filmed in Croatia, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again are slowly arriving and today it was the turn of British heartthrob Colin Firth.

The star of Kingsman, The King’s Speech and Bridget Jones tried his best to avoid all media attention as he landed at Spilt Airport, in stark contrast to Pierce Brosnan who jetted in a few days ago and was happy to joke and wave to the waiting media.

The second ABBA musical Mamma Mia is being filmed on the island of Vis and Firth (57) was whisked away from the airport to catch a speedboat to the Adriatic island. Vis acts as a Greek island in the movie after the production company decided to pull out of Greece completly. After Dubrovnik has benefited hugely from Hollywood hits such as Game of Thrones and Star Wars this muscial could soon do the same from Vis.  

Croatia will have another important direct flight connection next summer, Canada. Air Canada Rouge will start flights between Toronto and Zagreb from the 2nd of June 2018 and will operate four times a week up to the 6th of October.

According to information from the specialised website EX-YU aviation the Canadian airline plans to be the second airline to run this Toronto – Zagreb route establishing strong connections with North America.

Air Canada Rogue will offer 24 seats in business class and 258 seats in economy. This will be the first time, since 1990, that the Croatian capital has two airlines operating to Toronto. Air Transat launched flights from Toronto to Zagreb last year.

And tickets are already available online with prices starting at only 615 Euros for a return.

How do you take your dog swimming with you...easy all you need is a couple of surf boards and a waiting raft and you are away.

This pet owner in the Lapad Bay today proved that “walkies” can also be on the water. She took her “best friends” fort a nautical afternoon on the Adriatic Sea, a delightful way to spend the first day of October in Dubrovnik.

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Our resident "Style Guru" has been scanning the streets of Dubrovnik this week for the latest and greatest in fashion.

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On this day, the 1st of October, 26 years ago soldiers of the Yugoslav National Army supported by reservists attacked Dubrovnik at six in the morning and marked the first attack on the city in the Homeland War. On the 1st of October 1991 the attacks started from the land, sea and air, and the aggression left Dubrovnik without power and water for the first day.

In order to create a complete blockade of information the television and radio antenna on the Srd Mountain overlooking the city was destroyed by air attacks. The telephone connections to the city were also seriously damaged.

Dubrovnik was left without electricity, water and connections with the world for the next three months. In total the Yugoslav National Army sent between 1,000 and 13,000 soldiers to the Dubrovnik region as well as support from aircraft, navy ships and heavy artillery.

Up against this relatively large Yugoslav force were around 750 poorly armed soldiers and volunteers from the Dubrovnik region who held a front of over 200 kilometres. They heroically defended Dubrovnik and defeated the Yugoslav Army and preserved the city and its inhabitants.

This day will be remembered in the darker pages of Dubrovnik’s history.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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