The Rugby World Cup is on and the fever for the sport is frenetic. Hosts New Zealand are favourites to win the tournament along with territorial neighbours Australia. The Springboks cannot be counted out either, for who can forget their dramatic fairy tale success story of 1995! England seem to be the dark horses in this World Cup. Followers of the sport of rugby know all about the top teams in the world, but how well do we know about India’s very own rugby team.
India are ranked 75th in the world, and our small neighbours, Sri Lanka are ranked 45th. 30 places above us in the world rankings lie Australia, one of the favourites for the tournament. The Indian team is coached by Norman Laker and Henry Marnitz, who happen to be South Africans. The team is led by Nasser Hussain. One of the best players to have played for India is Emil Vartazarian. The half American, half Iranian player was part of the national team for 8 years until 2006.
Interestingly, Rahul Bose, the Bollywood actor, was part of the first Indian national rugby team that took part in an international event: The Asian Rugby Football Union Championship. He has played both scrum half and right-winger positions. India’s best upcoming talent is Amit Lochab, who is muscular, well-built and impressed heavily in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
The road to international rugby has not been a smooth one for the Indian team. In 2005, they started their attempt to qualify for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, but a 22-36 loss to Kazakhstan sent them out of the running for that tournament. They also disappointed with an 8-8 tie in Guam, but still finished second in their group of four teams thanks to beating Malaysia 48-12.
In 2011 May-June Asian 5 nations tournament, the Indian national team was relegated to division three after a loss to Iran in a relegation match. The Indian Rugby-Football Union has to do its homework well and bring in a lot of improvements if they want to see India in 2015 World Cup.
Edited by Zico