This Day (Lagos)

25 December 2012

Nigeria: Racing RFC Victorious in Hsbc Emirates Dubai 7s Rugby

Lagos-based Racing RFC has won the 2012 International Open Competition of the Dubai 7s Rugby Tournament.

Racing defeated Cowries RFC also of Lagos 24-0 to lift the plate trophy.

In tandem with 12-year tradition, The Veterans (over 35-year-old) was the third team that represented Nigeria at the Dubai 7s.

Racing's The Vets defended the title they won in the 2011 edition by beating Brussels' Barbarians 24-5 to lift the plate trophy in the international vets competition.

The success of the Racing team in Dubai was attributed to the corporate support from PathCare Nigeria and other companies such as: Media Reach OMD, Trojan Estate, First Hydrocarbon Nigeria, Scib Insurance Brokers, Delaney Petroleum, 141 Worldwide, and Seascape Marine Services.

Speaking on the success of the Nigerian side, Mr Akinwumi Akintola, who played for The Vets, explained that Nigerians have the bodily build and agility for rugby.

He recalled that Nigerians have featured for the English national team's 7s and 15s teams, with Harriman even captaining the winning English team at the maiden IRB 7s World Cup in 1993.

He however lamented that the sport still needs to grow as a culture in Nigeria.

"We need to play rugby at the school level so that it would become a culture," Mr Akintola said. "It is not just a game of size and physical strength, it is a dynamic sports requiring mental strength, playing strategies, and discipline. Nigerians have to start embracing the sport," he quipped.

There is however hope on the horizon as Promasidor Nigeria Ltd. has committed itself over the next two years to help develop rugby in schools in Lagos State.

Rugby is now being taught and played in over 40 schools under the Cowbell Flavoured Milk iTry Programme initiated by the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (N.R.F.F) and Promasidor.

The coaches in this programme, Mr Akintola explained, are being paid to teach rugby at different schools on a weekly basis.

"Inter-school competitions will then enable the skills to be harnessed and hopefully, become future Olympic stars. Rugby 7s is going to feature at the 2016 Rio Olympics Games," he disclosed.

Racing RFC was formed in 1997 and in the 2000 started participating in the Dubai 7s as way of introducing the players to international competitions.

In 2009 Racing supported the efforts of the N.R.F.F and took the national 7s team - The Black Stallions, to the Dubai 7s and they narrowly lost in the International Invitational Competition to the Russian developmental team.

The members of the Racing RFC team that won the 2012 Plate trophy in Dubai include: Aliyu Shelleng (Capt), Joe Mbu, Jay Udo Udoma, CJ Osazuwa, Craig Olubode, Emmanuel Ayewe, David Oyekanmi, Dele Fakorede, Yahaya Samson, Enajeroh Eseoghene, Sam Lawrence and Orene Ai'i.

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