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All Fired Up But Nowhere To Play

Published by Guardian on Sat, 03 Mar 2012

WIPE away the fine layer of harmatan dust collecting on the pictures hanging in the bar at the rugby club in Kaduna and you'll see moustachioed defenders of the old British Empire. All ram rod stiff backs and even stiffer upper lips. Battle hardened soldiers most of them, I imagine, out in the tropics to defend King and Country. The pioneers of rugby in Naija o.Okay, they probably didn't speak much pidgin back then and most of their names are long forgotten but the tokunbo game they brought across with them lives on.The thing bi say, the frustrations of being a rugby player in Nigeria are huge. There are 16 clubs in the country and a handful of schools playing the game, but all the enthusiasm that a player can muster for training gets blown away like the harmatan if you can't get a game. Club fixtures are few and far between. School games even more so. Fields and posts are virtually non existent, even the most basic requirement, the ball, is a rare commodity. Na wa o!Yet on the plateau in Jos, the back streets of Kano and Warri or the low tide sands of Tarkwa Bay where ever you take a rugby ball fun breaks out. They may not know the rules or the positions but they are happy just to get the ball in their hands, to run... and to find out where they can play.Dr Richard Ajayi, President of the NRFF, speaks of building, ' a pipeline from primary school, through secondary schools, to university, clubs and states and on to the national team,' and with the national 15 and 7 man rugby teams playing international tournaments in Botswana and Morrocco this year, there is plenty to play for. But what is so desperately needed are structures to grow the base of players from primary school level to club to national stardom. Coaching the coaches is priority number one.But where to start' It's like the elephant in the fridge, you eat it one bite at a time.NRFF National Development Coordinator, Martin Crawford, believes there are two main issues; the first is to continue to support and develop relationships with the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) and International Rugby Board (IRB) and who have the capacity to assist in rugby's development and the second is to work with government towards a democratically elected unified rugby body representing all clubs and unions.STORMER'S and BLUE BULLSClubs need to reach out to schools and communities around them just as government and business need to reach out too. The NRFF has had discussions with the Stellenbosch Rugby Academy, the seedbed of Western Province and the Stormers in South Africa, as well as with the mighty Blue Bulls from Pretoria who have both expressed interest in helping the NRFF run coaching courses. Like everything though these things take funding. The word is that Let's Play, the Multichoice/ DSTV initiaive, may partner with the Bulls in development programmes soon.GETTING RUGBY READYAnyone though can learn more about the game, how to ensure player safety and even get a certificate from the IRB on line. Rugby Ready is an IRB certificated training course using videos and questionairres which gives you the basic instruction to begin getting involved in and playing rugby. Check it out at www.irbrugbyready.comBig And Strong Or Small And Fast' Rugby Is For YouONE of the great things about rugby is that there are so many different skills needed in a team. No matter what your shape and size there's a position that you can play. From the Neanderthal-like giants in the forwards, whose role is to use their size and strength to gain possession of the ball, to fast and elusive backs who grab the ball from the forwards and grab the glory with their cunning running to cross the try line and score. If you can catch, run and pass a ball you can play rugby.A rugby team has 15 positions split into two groups, forwards and backs. Each position wears a specific number and has specific responsibilities. The forwards form up in three rows, the 'front row' (numbers 1-3), the 'second row' (4 & 5), and the 'Back row' (6-8)' 1 and 3 are the props' 2 is the hooker' 4 and 5 are locks' 6 and 7 are flankers' 8,believe or not is the eighthman.Behind them are the halves and backs.' 9 is the scrumhalf' 10 is the flyhalf' 11 and 14 are the wings' 12 and 13 are inside and outside centers' 15 is the fullback08033843683archtheadman@gmail.com
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