With India women’s match with Singapore on Saturday an historic moment for the country, many eyes will be on their match at Queenstown Stadium.
For India, the match will be their first-ever women’s international in fifteens and therefore a huge moment for rugby in the country.
Ahead of the match, Asia Rugby spoke to Rehmuddin Shaikh, the assistant coach to the team, ahead of their match.
Q: How are you preparing for the upcoming tournament?
A: The girls were put through the paces in a month-long selection camp which was held in Mumbai. 45 girls who attended camp were cut down to the final 26. These girls were shortlisted at the first ever Inter Zonal Rugby XVs championship that was held earlier this year. The unions focus over the last 2 years was to develop a strong Womens XVs side and we are thankful to Asia Rugby for giving us such an excellent platform to compete internationally.
Q: What are you expecting to achieve in the upcoming tournament
A: To be honest, we do not know what to expect going into this competition. This being the debut tournament for all 3 countries (India/Singapore/Philippines), it is tough to assess where we stand. The true test will be when team India take on heavyweights Singapore on Saturday in what promises to be a thrilling match up.*Fingers Crossed*.
Q: What would it mean to win the upcoming tournament?
A: A win would no doubt be a massive achievement and a true testament to the growth of the game within India. A win will not only send a loud and clear message about women empowerment through Rugby but would also leave a lasting impression on society while breaking the traditional orthodox approach and mentality of women in sport, especially Rugby.
Q: How is rugby growing in your country?
A: Rugby is growing rapidly across India. Having been included in the National school calendar & the University calendar, it has helped increase our footprint across the country. With regards to the Women’s XVs format, the sport has grown leaps and bounds.
From not having any XVs teams for the women as recent as 2 years ago to having over 25 teams playing competitively today,the sport has come a long way. I am excited to see what the coming years have in store for Rugby in India and i can assure you that the only direction its moving in, is upward!
Q: What does rugby mean to you?
A: I have been asked this question before and i honestly have no concrete answer. It is hard to picture a life without rugby. The sport has given me more than i could have asked for. It has shaped me into the person i am today. It has provided me with immense pleasure. It has given me the best of friends and has shown me the world (Quite Literally)