Nelson Mandela’s love for rugby was turned into a major Hollywood movie in ‘Invictus.’ While that kind of love and passion will take time to be replicated in India, the HSBC Five Nations Tournament is here to make a start in the right direction.
With teams from China, Philippines, Thailand and hosts India participating, the Capital will see some classic rumbling at the newly constructed Rugby Stadium at Delhi University.
That India and China will face off in the opener and the matches will be keenly fought under floodlights is expected to bring in sports enthusiasts.
The tournament has teams from World Division 2.
While the eventual winners will be promoted to the top league and win a place in the World Cup to be held in New Zealand next year, the team that finishes bottom will be relegated to Division 3. The stakes, as expected, are high.
The Indian team will be led by 30-year-old Nasser Hussain, who said his team is upbeat and raring to go.
“We have prepared well. The team has recently returned from a conditioning camp in New Zealand which gave us vital exposure and experience. We will play to the fullest of our potential,” he said.
The hosts have a strong team with a well-balanced composition according to Hussain.
“We have the best players from all over the country. There is a great blend of exuberance and experience in the team which is excellent for this sport.”
Hussain however did clarify that the players are residents of the country and not foreigners of Indian origin.
“There were proposals to induct some foreigners but it was shot down because it wouldn’t have been fair to aspiring rugby athletes in the country,” said the player who represents Bombay Gymkhana Club in the domestic circuit.