PLAN is underway to build a modern rugby ground at the Tanzania People Defence Force (TPDF) Lugalo Club in Dar es Salaam.
The 'Daily News' has learnt that leaders of the TPDF club are working tirelessly, looking for space around the area, where an international standard rugby venue will be constructed. A club's committee member, Samuel Hagu, confirmed the news saying: "It's true that we are planning to construct a rugby ground, it's just a matter of allocating a suitable space, so that we cannot interfere with the current programme.
"The idea came from Tanzania Rugby Union (TRU), they want to build the ground through different sponsors, our role is to allocate the space and seek the blessings of the army leaders," he said. He added that TRU intension is to build ground that will meet international standard but will remain as club property.
"They made no secret about their wish and we cannot wait for the mission to be achieved. The idea is valuable for us as a sport institution. We're ready to work with them," he said. Hagu, who is also golf captain at Lugalo, said that apart from the current golf course, the club has plans to expand the usage of the venue.
"I can assure you that although we have only golf course, plans are to ensure the club grows to become a big sports complex in Africa, on which will be able to accommodate different sports grounds." Among their plans is to build tennis and basketball courts, as well as squash, swimming pool and handball grounds.
"It came as a surprise to us as we never thought about building a rugby ground before but we're all looking forward to it." Tanzania has limited rugby grounds and that has impacted on the number of clubs practicing the sport. The only active clubs are Arusha Rhinos, Dodoma and the Dar Leopards.
The Dar Leopard used to train at the Dar es Salaam Gymkhana Club before shifting to International School of Tanganyika (IST) in recent years. Rugby union in Tanzania is a minor but growing sport. The governing body is the Tanzania Rugby Union, which is an associate member of the IRB.
Originally the Tanzanian Rugby Football Union was incorporated into the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) in 1956. This tended to be dominated by Kenya, but Tanzania got its own union in the 1970s. Tanzanian rugby was for a long while subsumed under "East Africa", which tended to be dominated by Kenya.
The game is established in the former Tanganyika, but not Zanzibar, despite attempts to help get the game established there. For many years rugby in East Africa was dominated by whites and expatriates, In Kenya and Uganda the game was readily taken up by the indigenous black community in the ealy 1970's though in Tanzania black players still make up a minority of the sport's participants there are several initiatives to change this.
Tanzania is a founder member of the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR), which was launched officially in January 1986, in Tunis, Tunisia. Rugby officials from Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Kenya, the Seychelles and Madagascar also attended.