Rugby is still new in India which is trying hard to establish a name but the people associated with the game feels more media coverage coupled with government support would help the sport get its due recognition.
“In this cricket crazy country, most of the people don’t know about Rugby. There is no TV coverage or telecast of matches. It’s important to make people aware about the game by regular coverage from Doordarshan or private channels,” Pramod Khanna, President of Indian Rugby Football Union, told PTI.
Indian Rugby Development manager Greg Davey also agreed with Khanna, saying, “the game should be properly marketed on TV like other sports and be given prime time coverage if one wants to promote it.”
“We want better tuning from government’s side. They are paying for all the overseas tour, but in the end they say it’s your sports, you better take care of it. The mindset needs to be changed,” he said.
“Rugby is most watched and popular team sports in the world. We need to change the sporting culture here to make sports popular. We have to make people understand the game. We have to generate peoples’ interest in the sport,” he added.
IRFU officials voiced their displeasure over the fact that there is not a single dedicated ground for the sport in the country.
“For the betterment of Rugby, we need infrastructural support from the government. We want proper grounds to practice. Next year, we have Commonwealth Games here and if we want our team to be competitive, at least fulfil the basic infrastructural need,” Khanna said.
IRFU vice-president Aga Hussain said, “they (government) need to understand that we don’t want any funding, all we want is 3-4 quality grounds.”
On India’s prospect in the next year’s Commonwealth Games, Davey said, “if we get into the top 12 out of the 16 participating nation, that will be a great achievement.
“The top 10 Rugby teams of the world are from Commonwealth countries and seriously we don’t have any medal hopes.”
Meanwhile, Hussain said that off late more and more schools and universities are organising Rugby tournaments and recognising it as a major sport.
“Around 400 schools are associated with us and 17,000 players are registered with us. More than 67 Rugby clubs are participating in various tournaments. Schools and universities earlier didn’t recognise our game but now they are coming forward,” he said