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INDIA RUGBY FOOTBALL UNION (IRFU)

May Newsletter 2008

Congratulations to the Central Rugby Union who have recently staged a very successful regional 7s Tournament with teams from Puri, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Jharkhand, KISS, Uttar Pradesh, Kalinga and Chatisgarh taking part.

It was great to see the interest shown from the State Government Officials and the verbal commitment given by them to assist with the development of the game in Orissa.

Jharkhand, the eventual winners were lifted by the inclusion of several Army players home for the holidays and the final was a very close affair with Bhubaneswar going down just 7-5 in a hotly contested final.

Id like to make special mention of the Indian Rugby Football Unions major Sponsors Kappa Clothing and Kingfisher. Without their continued support the efforts of our paid and volunteer workforce would be made extremely difficult

Some sad news on the KAPPA front however, IRFUs relationship with Kappa will finish at the end of June. IRFU would like to take this opportunity to thank Kappa for their support of the last couple of years.

There is always a silver lining to everything we do and discussions are well progressed with an International Rugby specific brand that will suit the IRFUs needs well and also raises the opportunity for a Rugby specific clothing supplier to form closer links with the regions and clubs throughout India

As we are talking sponsorship, whilst IRFU is talking to several potential sponsors in a variety of partnership and business areas it is vital that all regions are continuously working to gain local sponsorship for regional tournaments, teams and travel

To all our stakeholders, please support our sponsors brands out there in the marketplace!

IRFU Website

www.indiarugby.co.in

At last we have action. It has taken a while, however the developers have finally woken from their slumber and given us access to at least update the news and teams areas of the site

So that being said the website is now being updated on a regular basis with the latest news and other relevant information about rugby in India

If you have news from your region or club email to greg.davey@irfu.org

IRB Visit to India

The IRB Development General Manager Bruce Cook visited India from IRB HQ Dublin during April along with the IRB Asia Rugby Development Manager Jarrad Gallagher.

We had very good press coverage regarding their visit and they departed after their snapshot tour with a lot more knowledge of Indian Rugby and the challenges it faces

They spent time with the IRFU Board members as a group and individually and met with the Development Manager Greg Davey and Coach Usaia Biumaiwai.

All in all a very successful visit with early approval of what the IRFU is trying to achieve

All India under 20 Tournament

The good response for the Under 20 tournament continues with team still expressing interest.

The tournament will be held in Mumbai Thursday 17th Sunday 20th June. Teams to arrive Wednesday 16th June

We are on target to have a minimum of 14 teams participate although indications are there could be as many as 18 teams. This will mean the tournament will be the largest of its type ever to be held in India!

Planning has begun and there are Demonstration Womens Rugby and All India National Selection vs. Army Selection matches planned over the duration of the tournament as well as coaching, player and referee workshops.

We will be inviting all schools whove recently been involved in Rugby tournaments in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai to come along and watch the tournament and participate in skills workshops conducted by our top national team members who would have just returned from the Asian 5 Nations Tournament in Thailand.

Rugby Players Travelling Overseas to play

Just as with teams players travelling overseas to play rugby must get a clearance from the IRFU to do so a just as clubs and/or teams must

The IRFU have just approved 2 players to travel to New Zealand to play Premier club rugby which is huge for Indian Rugby at a time when we must be marketing ourselves to the greater world. Indian players travelling overseas to play is huge news for us so we need to know

The Tiger Cubs

The Tiger Cubs will represent India and Asia at the forthcoming under 13 rugby festival in the UK. The Cubs have been brought together from three different rugby centres to represent India. The squad of 18 boys is made up from 6 Manipur youngsters, 6 Orissa youngsters and 6 Kolkata youngsters.

Each of the centres is part of the Kolkata based rugby club the Jungle Crows development programme. The Jungle Crows were formed in 2004 to provide a new rugby club option to the players of Kolkata and develop more players. The club has tasted international success with the KISS Jungle Crows who won the Nations Cup in London in 2007. Based on this success the Crows were invited to prepare a team to represent India at the Bishops Stortford Festival.

All of the boys in the team come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Orissa boys come from KISS (Kalinga Institute for Social Sciences). A school set up for the education of tribal children. The Manipur boys face daily difficulties just to make their training sessions. The Kolkata boys are former street children from the NGO Ashalayam Don Bosco. The boys will all come together from Thursday 24 April to participate in a training camp on the Kolkata Maidan. This will be the first foreign tour by an under 13 rugby team from India. The tour represents a giant step forward in the sport, which will be a highlight of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The Jungle Crows are supported in their work by a number of corporates who see the positive contribution rugby can make to young people. In particular CDE, JCB, Le Coq Sportif, London School of Commerce and BOC make the work of the Crows possible.

RDO Conference

Preparation is well underway for the Rugby Development Officer conference in Mumbai

Starting the 16th May till 18th May

Many topics will be covered over the 3 days with the outcome hopefully some better understanding about the IRFU, upskilled RDOs with the ability to better train our coaches and referees and understand their position requirements and processes required to ensure the continued development of our great game in their regions

These guys will certainly go away from the conference with more training and resources than they have had access to previously

Player Registration

With the move to a more professional footing for Rugby in India one of the issues that has faced us is getting an accurate player and coach database

So we have created a new player /coach registration form that has been sent to all regions for completion by ALL players and coaches in each of the regions.

These will be returned to IRFU no later than July15th for imputing into our new database.

The gathering and accuracy of this database is the Regional Development Managers responsibility in each region. For those regions without an RDM at this time the responsibility is with the senior Rugby development Officer.

This database will then allow us to keep track of player movements between club and region, we will be able to use the information to form part of the upcoming player insurance information we need to supply to our insurers, it will allow us to help promote the game and our sponsors via our sponsors back to the players and coaches and lastly it will assist in ensuring that player will not be able to swap clubs at National tournament time ie playing for a Div 3 team and then playing for a Div 1 team in the same year

All clubs should have by now received from their respective RDOs your registration forms If not contact greg.davey@irfu.org

National Team Update

The National teams greater training squad has been announced by Coach and his wise selectors (Go to the IRFU website to view squad)

An exciting times 3 or 4 overseas players in the squad whilst several other overseas players were unavailable for numerous reasons.

As mentioned earlier the squad goes into camp on the 18th May for 3 weeks prior to departing for Bangkok and the A5N Div 2 tournament.

An International Rugby TV programme will be filming and interviewing members of the team and staff on the 19th May for a Grassroots International rugby documentary in Europe and Britain.

Whilst on that topic the New Zealand Publication Rugby News is also running an article on Indian Rugby in the near future and if your flying Jet Airlines in the next month or so there is an article on rugby in their inflight magazine coming up soon

This is the start of a big year for the Indian National 15s and 7s team as it is the first time we have played in div 2 of the A5N and also the beginning of the long build up to the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

The Pune Rugby Experience by Surhad Khare (PDRFA)

As there might be a number of people out there who might not have a clue about us or our background, a brief intromy brother Swapneel and I were born and brought up in Southern Africa, born in Zambia and bred in Swaziland, where we were introduced to primarily Football, but also to Rugby, at primary and school level by some excellent Brit and South African teachers and coaches. Our father, a Police Pathologist, passed away in Swaziland, whereupon Mum took the decision of coming back to the Motherland. Swapneel formed KFANDRA (Khares Football and Rugby Academy) in 2001 and I took on the mantle of Head Rugby Coach. After a rocky start (we trained for six months on a mountainside!) we were forced from ground to ground before landing up at our current base at Law college for the past two years. We have boys and girls, from the ages of 5 onwards, joining the Academy for coaching, obviously primarily for football, but we soon inculcate in them a love for Rugby as well. From barely being able to field a seven a side team for the first few years, we were able to start competing in the 15s from 2005 and have an enthusiastic girls/womens team as well as some promising kids at the u-11, u-13 and u-15 levels. In 2006 we formed PDRFA (Pune District Rugby Football Association) the body through which we aim to push Rugby forward and the next steps on the ladder have to be inter-school and inter-college Rugby and most importantly finding and acquiring a proper ground.

When Greg Davey asked me to write an article on Pune Rugby in the next newsletter I jumped at the opportunity with both hands (as any self respecting lock should). However as I sit down to put finger tip to keyboard I begin to realize the difficulty of the task before me and wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew (as a few hungry props have done over the years to their opponents ears!!!)

To most people the words Pune Rugby must seem like an oxy-moron (a fitting description I know, of that deranged tight-head in your team but not used in that context here) as it did to many involved with Delhi Rugby, who, after our debut match against Manipur which had everything including a mass brawl at the end (which saw some over enthusiastic locals sportingly joining in as well) told our players We thought you lot from Pune would be a bunch of pansy I.T. Wyties but you chaps are quite tough !!! (not quite the literal translationbut this IS a family newsletter you understand!!!).

It is probably easier to get a pride of Lions in the Serengeti interested in converting to herbivorism for a day rather than it is to get a Pune-ite interested in Rugby. For a typical Pune-ite sport means cricket and if you are a bit on the hard side you play football or hockey. Needless to say we have had quite a few characters who have joined for one session and never been seen after. From the bloke who saw a rucking drill in progress, screamed Yeh toh bahut riksy game hai!!! (Very Risky game this is!!!) and ran away, to the bloke I spent a full 30 mins explaining the art of passing and then a further 15 mins on body position in contact and who then came hurtling into the shield-bearer (me), screaming like a banshee, before slipping one foot away from me, landing on my feet and dislocating his shoulder!!! We havent seen him sinceAs for the lads who ask about when they are going to wear helmets like the rugby they show on espnwellthe less said the better. However, hats off to the lads we DO have now, who love their Rugby and the contact, but ai ai ai its been hard work.

Comparatively, getting girls interested in rugby has been a doddle. The ratio of girls who have come to KFANDRA for football and fallen in love with Rugby has been far higher than the boys. Of course its always good fun to see the expression on a mothers face when you tell her that her daughter has all the qualities of becoming a very good hooker!!! Parents are of course a little wary about their daughters being involved in such a rough sport. However after they see the joy on their daughters faces during a session all their apprehensions and doubts are soon cleared away. I first realized that girls really are the stronger sex when, during one practice 9 a side game played during the monsoon, one of the girls had her nose walloped in a ruck and came out crying with blood all over the place. The crying I naturally thought was because of the pain and the worry about how her facial features might be after this, but she was crying because she wanted to carry on playing and she knew she would have to stop now!!!

So far the real problem has been to keep them motivated due to lack of competition but with Mumbai and Kashmir taking up the Girls Rugby cudgels in a strong way hopefully that will improve soon. I have to mention here a moment that had a huge impact on the girls when they played an exhibition match at Bombay Gym in 2006. They were already over the moon at being able to play on such a surface and in front of so many IRFU and WIRFU officials as well as in front of so many good players (not ours, Bombay Gyms !!!), but when Chait and the rest of the Gym players formed a tunnel, on the spur of the moment, for the girls to file through, it had a massive impact on all of them. To have these top players, many of them India Internationals, appreciating their efforts in this way is something I wont forget and neither will they. Such gestures are what makes Rugby Union special.

As important as it is to get the kids to love the game it is just as important to win over the parents. Once parents see a few drills and see the delight their kids show when playing contact or tag or touch, they are won over. When parents realize that rugby is about skill, intelligence, communication and NOT just strength and speed they know they are onto a good thing. We have had so many parents telling us, after watching a few drills like truck and trailer etc, that they never realized that Rugby involved so much thinking and that they found it stimulating just watching.

As I had mentioned earlier in the intro, what we really need now to take things forward is regular use of a good quality playing surface. As Greg will testify, the Law College ground where the kids play is not in any way a good quality surface and the red soil 60 by 60 metre surface at the University where we hold the Mens and Girls/Women sessions is great during the monsoon but not otherwise. This is all still a far cry from when we started in 2001, on the side of a mountain, where one memorable try involved a player smashing into two parked cars after tripping over a boulder and offloading to a team-mate as he lay sprawled on the bonnet!!!

Unfortunately this is not an easy problem to solve and the few quality surfaces available are usually booked by Corporate cricketers or available only at exorbitant rates. IRFU and WIRFU are doing their best to help us in this regard and perhaps once the Army bases and Police in Pune get involved in Rugby that problem will be solved, if not for regular practice but at least for practice matches.

For us, as important as the sport itself is the ethos of Rugby Union. It is the one factor that puts Rugby Union on a pedestal far above any other sport. I am proud of the fact that that wherever we are known in Indian rugby circles it is as much for our emphasis on sportsmanship as for our forward dominated play. Yes we want to see our wonderful sport spreading to all parts of our country but it should never be done so at the expense of the ethos of the game.

Having been involved in football for quite a number of years and having seen first hand the working of such sports bodies in India whether it be on field or administrative, the one thing that gives me great heart with regard to the future of Rugby Union in India is the quality of people involved in our sport. I would have loved to name each and every one of you but realize that a) the list would go on and on and b) Greg would never ask me to contribute again!!! Whether it be Coaches or players, administrators, referees or just supporters of the game, I have met the sort of good honest people I know are unique to our sport and because of whom our sport has such a great chance of flourishing.

I would like to finish off by thanking all those of you who have helped us and Pune Rugby over the years. Again I will not go into names but from the simplest gesture of support, the compliments and the praise, the criticism ( ErSurhud, there IS more to the game than just rucking you know) to much needed financial aid, to all of you in India and abroad, you know who you are and we thank you. Cheers!!!

Coming in Julys Newsletter Not just Snow Rugby thats taking off in Kashmir,

Many thanks till next time

Greg Davey

IRFU Development Manager

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