Sovint surt més barat viatjar des de Catalunya a algunes ciutats al nord dels Pirineus, que no pas traslladar-se des del nostre país a d'altres indrets de la península. Des d'El Prat, com des de Girona-Costa Brava o Reus, surten vols de baix cost que permeten, amb certes condicions (compra amb antelació, arribada a aeroports no principals, ...) anar i tornar entre, per exemple, Barcelona i Berlin per 60 euros. Aquesta realitat té ara una aplicació més enllà del pur oci o dels viatges de negoci: l'esport de competició.
Un equip de rugbi català, de nom Poblenou-Enginyers, ha deixat la lliga espanyola d'aquest esport i s'ha apuntat a una lliga anglesa, la Greene King Super Premier League. El motiu? l'estalvi econòmic: Barcelona-Stansted pot sortir molt més barat (fins a 1,00€ per trajecte) que qualsevol trasllat entre la capital catalana i ciutats espanyoles. Per això, ja fa prop de tres anys que els enginyosos enginyers del Poblenou van decidir marxar, i des d'aleshores han sortit victoriosos de força encontres, segons explica el Telegraph, i han estat objecte de comentari a la premsa d'aquell país.
Em sembla aquest un cas fabulós per dos motius: és un exemple d'enginy posat al servei de la butxaca i, des d'un punt de vista europeísta i més profund, tot un model del que ha de ser l'Europa del futur, una Europa sense fronteres de cap tipus, una zona on centenars de milions de persones se sentin lliures i tinguin el màxim de facilitats per moure-s'hi i establir-se allà on els vingui de gust. I, no cal dir-ho, on tots tinguin exactament els mateixos drets i els mateixos deures (cosa que per ara és lluny de passar, com explicava per exemple a "Europa coixa").
Imaginative solutions at a European scale
Below you can read a piece of news the Telegraph recently published. It is an amazing example of what Europe should become: a huge territory where its inhabitants are free to settle where they want to, where they all have the same rights and duties. This is today not exactly so (I talked about it in a recent post, titled "Lame Europe"), and the present unevenness should be corrected.
A Spanish rugby union team is flying over 20,000 miles a year to play in an English league because it is cheaper than competing on home soil (by Paul Stokes)
Poblenou-Enginyers: They became the first foreign club to be admitted to an English league when it joined the amateur Greene King Super Premier League. Poblenou-Enginyers are taking advantage of dirt cheap international air fares and the strong Euro to cut the cost of away games.
The club was founded in 1989 by students from various sides in the Polytechnic University of Catalunya and other Catalonian teams. They became the first foreign club to be admitted to an English league when it joined the amateur Greene King Super Premier League, in Hertfordshire, in September 2006. Since then they have won the championship in successive seasons and are currently vying to end up top of the league for the third time in a row. Their performances have also had a welcome financial spin-off with return air fares from Barcelona to Stansted costing each player just one Euro (88p) plus taxes. The Euro's strength against the pound has also made the £99 cost per head for a hotel, food, drink and airport transfers more attractive to the 22-strong squad.
Were they still playing against Spanish sides, a weekend away could cost up to £1,000 because there are no cut-price domestic flights and the high price of other transport, food and accommodation. Enginyers play nine away fixtures and a minimum of two cup games every season, which means they travel to the UK at least 11 times a year, covering a total of 20,922 air miles. The benefit for their English counterparts is that they get an annual trip to Spain to play Enginyers on their home pitch beside the beach at the Mar Bella Sports Complex. Phil Patterson-Smith, 73, a British ex-pat and Enginyers committee member, said: "There are no budget airlines in Spain and it was too expensive to fly around the country for quality matches.
"Our manager thought with low cost flights it might well be cheaper to play abroad. It's been wonderful and we are doing very well - much to everyone's surprise."
Subscription costs to play in a Spanish league could cost up to £10,000 compared to the £5 registration fee for the Green King Super Premier. At the same time a return flight from Barcelona to Malaga today would work out at 1,265 Euros (£1,118.74).
One of the star players, Adrian Wegrzyn, 34, a salesman, said: "It's very different and fun. In England there is a very strong tradition of rugby unlike in Spain. All the guys love making the weekend trips to England but now we are in our third season it is getting harder to get the okay from our wives and girlfriends and families."
The team normally makes the flight to Stansted on a Saturday morning, plays in the afternoon, and enjoys a post-match evening in the region before flying back to Barcelona the next morning.
Sam Davidson, 20, a fly half and British ex-pat now living in Barcelona, uses the away games to fly back and visit his family in Braintree, Essex. He said: "I think the guys from Barcelona love playing over here because they prefer English girls to Spanish ones - especially the Essex girls."