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India learn lessons from rugby veterans

other Updated: Oct 11, 2010 23:41 IST
Tomojit Basu
Tomojit Basu
Hindustan Times
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The sight of the nearly packed rafters at the Delhi University Stadium was heartening to say the least. India were taking the stage at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) for the first time since the event had been introduced at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games and it certainly merited a show of support.

Taking on the likes of Wales, South Africa and Tonga was always going to be an uphill task, but the hosts put up a brave front against veteran opposition.

"We'll take away a lot of experience from these Games as we've gone up against the best sides in the world and haven't come out looking bad. We gave them a fight and we can be proud of that," said India captain and hooker, Nasser Hussain.

Wales crushed India 56-7 in the 16-minute tie, the sole try coming from the captain who also spent time in the sin-bin a short while later, while the conversion came from the big boot of the centre, Rohan Sethna.

Against the Springboks, the young side were humbled 0-59 with winger Sibusiso Sithole scoring three tries in a matter of minutes.

The Indians looked more confident as they stepped on to the pitch to play their final match against Tonga. The tackles flew in with lethal precision, their drives forward through the open-side after scrums with a few resolute Garryowen kicks, characterized their optimism.

Prop Amit 'Happy' Lochab scored a try which Sethna failed to convert at a point where Tonga was leading 17-5. Sethna himself scored a try a little later, ploughing through the Tongan backs but the effort was ruled void for a forward pass. Tonga eventually won 38-5.

"We went up against three hundred years of rugby today and where we lacked was the technical know-how. You can't learn everything with just four years of training. But the experience was great and hopefully we'll be able to work on the shortfalls before the Asian Games in November," said Prop Hrishikesh Pendse.