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ERFU vice-president: We want to make Egypt a destination for Rugby
The Egyptian Rugby Football Union [ERFU] is a proud host of the first Arab Rugby 7s tournament to be held at El-Gouna, Egypt. Morocco, UAE and Saudi Arabia will be participating alongside Egypt in the tournament which is set to kick off on Friday at El Gouna Stadium.
Rugby 7s has become a rising sport in Egypt as it has been added to the 2016 Olympics in Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil. This will be the first appearance of the game on the Olympic stage since 1924. KingFut sat with ERFU vice president Hassan Khaled to talk about the Arab tournament and the sport in Egypt.
“Many might’ve not been aware that Rugby was actually practiced in Egypt regularly since 2007, where there were monthly matches between Alexandria and Cairo teams. In 2010, The first Rugby league, between four teams was created,” Hassan told KingFut.
“In 2010 we tried our best to create an Egyptian Rugby Football Union, but due to arising instability in Egypt, leading to the 2011 revolution, no sports minister had the political power or the will to sign off on such an action,” Hassan claimed.
“Lately we had much better luck with current Youth and Sports Minister Khaled Abdel-Aziz, and he gave us the green light to establish a Rugby Union, pending official paperwork to be concluded which we expect to be done later this month.
“We are not only looking at Rugby just in Africa but now we’re trying to tighten our connections with Arab countries such as UAE, KSA, Qatar, Bahrain, Syria and Lebanon,” Hassan revealed of his high hopes for the game in Egypt.
“Two years ago the Egyptian Rugby Football Union and the Emirati Rugby Association agreed on a deal to create the first Arab Rugby Union.
“Regarding the funding, we receive sponsorships. They might not be in cash as we’re still considered an amateur association so we may receive flight tickets, equipment and such. I don’t think the ministry of youth and sports will provide us with funding but on the other hand what they may do is provide us with good pitches to train of for example. Good changing rooms and such. We don’t need monetary support but we want more of a managerial/consultative role.
“Our recruitment process is different; we have people on our team who used to play Rugby abroad for example, or other sports like Basketball, Boxing, Football and Handball. For the younger kids, we go to their schools when they are at around 10-11, and we teach them how to play rugby.
“We teach them the rugby game without any contact between each other at first as they’re still young. We have already started working with around 10 schools already for the past two years. When the kid reaches 18, we pick them out to join our senior squad so that we don’t lose him. He continues to play in his university if they have Rugby team there, or we help the find a club ‘geographically’ close to where they live to make it easier,” Hassan continued.
Hassan then went on to reveal that there are around 150 girls playing Rugby regularly in Egypt, something many were not aware of. He remains adamant the process of recruitment was not a tough one.
“The girls wanted to join themselves. Convincing the parents was not tough. We have girls playing Judo, Taekwondo, and Handball, all contact sports yet we don’t look at them as if they’re aliens. Rugby for girls is only 7s in Egypt, which is a different game than the 15s with less contact anyway,” Hassan revealed.
Regarding Egypt’s participations in Rugby tournaments in the MENA region, the ERA second-man said: “We participated in several tournaments and did quite well. We scooped 2nd place both in the North African Rugby tournament and the Dubai International tournament.
On the difference between Rubgy 7s and 15s, Hassan made sure to make this issue clear. “At the moment it’s easier to have a Rugby 7s tournament over the 15s due to the shortage of time for preparation, stay, traveling, match time. Rugby 7s is also much better for the player to get technically better. We help develop the player to be ready for Rugby 15s by playing Rugby 7s,” he clarified.
Regarding the current tournament held in Egypt, Khaled confirmed that it was originally to be held in Lebanon but due to the political instability in the country at the moment, Egypt were offered the chance to host the tournament due to their perfect geographical positioning for all the participating countries.
“We want to make Egypt a destination for Rugby,” Hassan concluded.