I managed to acquire a new role yesterday as the chief coach, adviser and pundit to the nascent Bangladesh Rugby Association. A couple of days ago they advertised in a newspaper that the inaugural matches were being launched. Despite five months here I still naively thought that these would be properly organised teams playing real rugby. How wrong I was.
I turned up at the venue to see the Paltan maiden, a bit of dirt occasionally interrupted with grass, and decorated with glass, litter and stray dogs. However, someone had diligently marked out white lines and flags, with rickety posts in place and what must be the only four post protectors on the subcontinent.
I managed to find some of the organisers, one of whom kept asking me of the rules (and later turned out to be the referee!), and after spending 15 minutes stressing that ‘no I was not a professional player and I had not played at the world cup’ to numerous attendees, I saw the teams arrive. To a man they were all five foot six, with a frame more associated with a half-starved jockey than a rugby player. The four teams all had kit however, so there is a little bit of money around this.
The matches started and were incredibly funny. Firstly, the referee blew up for anything resembling a tackle, immediately awarding a penalty. Sometimes scrums would take place, usually for the cameras, with no real reason and certainly not for knock-ons which seem to be within the rules in
I then turned from audience to TV pundit, and was asked first by Channel One (the main private channel) what I though of the game, and the possibilities of rugby in
However, I may now have secured a coaching role as the referee wants help to know the rules, and the teams all need a lot of work. They seemed quite keen to have this so I will see if I can work out a way of doing it. But unfortunately there will still not be much chance of a game in the near future.