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Ruggers ready for Asian bastion

india Updated: Nov 15, 2010 22:55 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

The novelty factor has whittled down with every international outing. And this weekend, as women's rugby celebrates its debut in the Asian Games, it also marks the toughest challenge yet for the Indian women.

Having made their international debut less than two years ago, amid much curiosity, the rugby girls became pioneers of sorts, making their name in a game openly perceived as masculine. But when they leave for Guangzhou on Tuesday, it will not be just for these frills.

The women, grouped with Singapore, Japan and Kazakhstan, have been put through a tough training regimen for the last five months at the Balewadi Complex in Pune. Indian rugby also brought in former Fiji international Elenoa Kunatuba to prepare them for the tournament.

"It is a huge tournament for women's rugby," says Kanatuba. "Since rugby sevens has been selected for the (2016 Rio de Janeiro) Olympics this is the right time to start preparing the core group. These girls will need another year or two to start getting big results...

Although confident of winning against Singapore and Japan, the team-members say Kazakhstan will be tough.

"We reach only about their shoulder height," says captain Surabhi Date, 19. "I think that's the disadvantage for us, but we are hoping to compensate for it with our speed. Tackling is also one of our strengths."

All-time high
Seasoned campaigner Nasser Hussain will lead the men's team, which has been grouped with China, Sri Lanka and Korea Republic.

"In the last 12 months we have caused a few upsets and we reached an all time high ranking (75). Also exposure at CWG has helped us and we should be able to give tough competition," Hussain said.