Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bangladesh's Chief Rugby Advisor

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 Bangladesh. Whilst this was all going on I was continuously questioned by different journalists – why are you here, what do you think of the ground, what is the best type of pitch to play on, are these players good, which world cup did you play in – and so on. One of them was asking about the Haka, saying he had seen half of it but got too scared and turned the TV off! Bengalis are a sensitive lot.

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 Bangladesh. I then worked my way down the touchline offering Austin Healey-style soundbites to all the crews. I know some people saw my interview on Channel One last night. This morning’s Bangla daily has a quote with the story, saying ‘a non-professional rugby player from England’ and that I think ‘clay or grass that is at one inch high is the best surface’. I am pretty certain that I said clay was not ideal and that I had no idea what length the best grass should be.

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.


Mikey said...

ah buddy you should definitely do it--it will you much fame and fortunate and you could become a celebrity coach, like the BRAC bank guy!!!!!

ashfaqul said...

I want to play Rugby but I don't know how to play and how to join. But when I see the Rugby in television I became snooze. So I want to be the part of Rugby.So please fill my dream and hurry. I am a student of BUBT (Bangladesh university of Business and Technology)and I am studying B.B.A. Thank you . Please know me at-

Shaihan said...

OMG. I'm 17, Bengali living in Australia and I play flanker for Sydney Boys High 3rd XV.

I'm goin to bangladesh at the end ofthis year after graduation. Is there a match schedule or something??? I wanna go and watch some of the matches.

Bangladesh Rugby Association said...

Thank you for your kind contribution to circulate Bangladesh Rugby news through your webpage. Pls. continue this to promote the new sport rugby all over in Bangladesh. I hope your contribution shall be made Rugby as a popular sport in Bangladesh.

To promote the game in Bangladesh our Association takes huge programs to develop our Coaches and Players. Our next program is Foamex Foam 1st College Rugby Tournament-2007 from 13 Sep. 2007 in Dhaka Rugby Filed (Paltan Maidan). 9 College teams will be participated in the tournament.

If necessary don’t be hesitate to contact in the bellow address:

Md. Mousum Ali
General Secretary
Bangladesh Rugby Association
3rd Floor, Bangabandhu National Stadium
Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Mob: 01711-648631


Md. Mousum Ali
General Secretary

Donny said...

Excellent! I was looking for a good summary of the status of rugby in
Bangladesh, and you spelled it out pretty clearly. Def got a good laugh out of your comments. I'm here in Bangladesh now and can clearly picture the images you wrote about, definitely what I would imagine as Bangladesh's first attempt at a sport. Or perhaps what you expect to see on TV on a comedy program about an unexperienced group of players holding their first organized game of a new sport.
I didn't have the same luck with rowing when I came here. The Bangladesh Rowing Federation's office, which I went to in my first month here, said there is no rowing in Bangladesh, even though there was in the past. That was a very sad day for me.

Tahmid said...

Oh wow...I did not know rugby existed in bangladesh. So I decided to google it for fun wondering if I ever returned to Bangladesh, if there was a possibility of playing some pick up. So where would I go if i wanted to play or even watch?