Aga Hussain: Access to playing spaces, more fixtures key to growth of Indian rugby

Congratulating the Indian women’s team that won its first ever international tie against Singapore in the Asian Rugby Women’s Championship, the Asia Rugby president said the sudden attention can come in handy to highlight key logistical issues.

Aga Hussain

Asia Rugby President Aga Hussain calls for a revamp of infrastructure and better access to it in India. (File photo)   -  Getty Images

India’s maiden international win, thanks to its 21-19 victory over Singapore in the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship, will be pivotal in bringing issues plaguing the sport into the spotlight, according to Asia Rugby President Aga Hussain.

“We are always going to fall short of funds when dealing with sport in India, but with rugby the issues are basic,” says the former Indian captain.

“What we really lack in Indian rugby is fields to play in. You need spaces where people can come out and play. We had the Commonwealth games and we made over seven brilliant playing fields in Delhi which have since gone dormant. Why can’t people be given access to use these spaces,” he adds.

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India women pulled off a spirited victory with Sumitra Nayak’s penalty in the death clinching the girls the game. This was India’s second major tournament participation and the girls head back home with a bronze medal in the bag.

“I personally expected India to beat Philippines as well. It was ranked lower than Singapore but India barely managed to win that game,” he explained.

“That game goes to prove that there is no replacement for match practice. Your preparation may be perfect but you need to play more and against quality opposition to know what works and what doesn’t,” he added.

Talking about gender considerations in the development of the game in countries like India, he remained optimistic about the growth of women’s rugby.

“Rugby, unlike other sports, has the scope for women to dominate the focus of the game, in terms of how the game is structured too. In the men’s category, the only Asian team that has found good success has been Japan, on that account, the onus and the scope for women is more,” he added.

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Hussain lauded Rugby India’s bottom-to-top approach of structuring the game in the country. “The focus has always been on the grass roots. Rugby India has a mature attitude to the sport and the focus has never been to push the sport down anyone’s throat. Successes like this will help popularise the sport better.”

Asked if he was worried about the volatility of the attention coming the sport’s way in the subcontinent, he brushed off concerns. “A dip in attention will come but it’s up to the body to maintain a consistency in performance. Results speak and while passion for the sport drive the players now, perhaps better and consistent results will bring better opportunities too,” he said.

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