Just when everyone thought it was going to be a cakewalk (make that mudwalk) for defending champs Army Reds, Bombay Gymkhana slammed the brakes on what would have been a sixth successive win. The Bombay boys beat the Red men and walked away with Royal Challenge presents All India & South Asia Rugby Tournament in association with The Telegraph after 10 years!
Just like the afternoon downpour did not spare the greens, Team Gymkhana rained down on the favourites with just one mantra — win! “There was a lack of leadership on the field from the Army side,” felt Noomi Mehta, the president of the East India Rugby Football Union and the vice-president of the Indian Rugby Football Union. “Given the weather, it was a brilliant final. Bombay Gymkhana defended really well,” said club CEO Deepankar Nandi.
Taking home the coveted trophy after 10 long years, the boys in bee-striped tees were one happy bunch. “It has always been a very close game with the Army for the past few years. They were extremely predictable (today) and we knew what we were going to have to face. I am really proud of my team,” said captain Nasser Hussain (in picture above with the gleaming trophy). So, what was their celebration plan? “I think it’s going to be messy! Ten years is too long a wait. We are going to rock Calcutta tonight!” promised the captain of the national team.
This Khanna loves his rugby. Meet Pramod Khanna, [in yellow tee with the joint winners of the washed-out Plate final — Maharashtra State Police (in blue) and Delhi Hurricanes (in black)] president, Indian Rugby Football Union, and Bollywood veteran Vinod Khanna’s brother! “We witnessed one of the best rugby matches today. Between the two teams, there are about 20 players from the national squad! This was a game meant for the Army to win, but then Bombay Gymkhana stole our hearts with the Cup. The way they sustained the pressure was commendable,” he smiled.
Text: Sreyoshi Dey
Pictures by Bhubaneswarananda Halder