ADVERTISEMENT
Go back to
Home » My Kolkata » Events » Bengal women secure bronze in national rugby tournament

Rugby Tournament

Bengal women secure bronze in national rugby tournament

The team bounced back with an emphatic 35-5 win to finish third at the Senior Women’s National Rugby Sevens Championship

Vedant Karia | Published 15.06.23, 03:10 PM
The team of 12 earned the bronze medal after competing in seven strenuous games across two days

The team of 12 earned the bronze medal after competing in seven strenuous games across two days

Bengal Rugby-Football Union

Rima Oraon started playing rugby in 2013. Ten years later, she is the captain of the Bengal women’s rugby team that bagged bronze at the Senior Women’s National Rugby Sevens Championship.

Rugby has been slowly, but steadily gaining mileage in West Bengal in the past decade, with more and more organisations taking the onus to bring the sport to the grassroots. These efforts yielded results and the team qualified for the nationals.

ADVERTISEMENT

The selection process began in May, when the Government of West Bengal held a six-week camp where the women spent their mornings practising at the maidan. A team of 12 was finally chosen for the 7-a-side format of the game. “A few of our girls trained and played even while their college exams were on, which was an exemplary show of their commitment to the sport,” said coach Mokhtar Alam.

The women were largely from Kolkata, Hooghly, and the rugby-obsessed village of Saraswatipur. They travelled to Pune for the tournament, where hundreds of the country’s best rugby players from 26 states competed for the prestigious trophy and a spot in the nationals.

After six strenuous games over two days, the women from Bengal were in a sticky spot. Having suffered a 26-5 loss to Odisha in the semifinal, they were tied against the formidable Kerala side for a chance at the bronze. All eyes were on the Bengal women, who rose to the occasion, beating Kerala 35-5 to clinch the bronze medal. “It was a very hard and tiring format where the girls were continuously on the field, but they all came together to make it happen. I’m very proud of their effort and achievement,” said Paul Walsh, founder of Jungle Crows, and one of the mentors of the players.

Captain Rima is one of the girls mentored by Walsh. When she started playing the sport, she would have never imagined that she would one day captain the state to a major trophy. “The tournament was challenging and we played the group stage really well. Unfortunately, we made a few mistakes in the semifinals. While it's natural to be harsh on ourselves, we are proud to have won the bronze and qualified for the Nationals.”

Alam agrees, and is looking to take the positives from this performance into the Nationals in Goa, which is slated for October-November. “We took some new girls for this tournament and they performed really well, so the future of Bengal rugby looks promising. We want to at least secure a top-2 spot in the Nationals now,” he said.

The women spent over a month at a training camp at the Maidan before being selected for the tournament

The women spent over a month at a training camp at the Maidan before being selected for the tournament

For Rima, the goal is to go beyond just the podium, and hopefully give the sport back to many others like her. “Paul sir brought rugby to our village 10 years ago, and since then, nine girls from here have played for India. We won’t just stop with this win. With our performance, we want to give a bigger boost to the rugby culture in Bengal with the help of the government,” she said.

The authorities have taken note of this growth, and things are definitely looking up for the players. “Our girls displayed great skill and tactics in the tournament. They have taken this podium finish as a stepping stone to future glory,” said Lav Jhingan, president of the Bengal Rugby-Football Union.

The efforts seem to be already paying off, with the Bengal’s women’s rugby team securing a silver at the first Janjatiya Khel Mahotsav, a competition exclusively held for players from tribal communities in Bhubaneswar over the past week.

Last updated on 15.06.23, 03:10 PM
Share:
ADVERTISEMENT

More from My Kolkata