India wins silver at Asia Rugby U18 Girls Sevens Championship in Uzbekistan
Tashkent, September 20, 2021
India won silver at the Asia Rugby U18 Girls Rugby Sevens Championship 2021 held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, going down 17-21 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a well-contested final on Sunday.
Nandini top-scored for India with seven points while Aditi Kumari and Tarulata Nair contributed five points each in the final.
Both teams scored three ties each. For UAE, Carmela Morralla scored nine points while Hannah Lear added seven, and Lara Botha contributed five.
India had reached the final by beating Kazakhstan 24-7 in the semi-final with Sapna Kumari top-scoring with 10 points including two tries. Tarulata Naik scored nine points while Arti Kumari added five points.
In the two-day tournament that had five teams -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, UAE, India, and hosts Uzbekistan -- and played in an all-play-all round-robin format, India started with a 10-12 loss to Kazakhstan on Saturday. The girls came back strongly to blank Kyrgyzstan 63-0, with Vaishnavi Dattatray Patil scoring 15 points from three tries, and then beat hosts Uzbekistan 20-5.
On Sunday, they lost to UAE 12-29 to finish third in the league and qualify for the semi-finals.
Five countries from Asia -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), India and hosts Uzbekistan -- vied for top honours at the championship.
The Indian National U18 Girls Rugby team is supported by Societe Generale (financial partners & official bank), Government of Odisha and Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology- KIIT (high performance partners), BLK (match kit partner), Fast & Up (nutrition partner), BLADE India and Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance (ABTP) as associate partner.
Rahul Bose - actor, director, philanthropist and a board member of Rugby India, said, “This is a great moment for Indian Rugby. Both teams (UAE and India) scored three tries in the final. No disgrace losing like that. For our U18 girls team to perform as well as they did is all the more remarkable because they were 15 years old when the pandemic struck. They have never played a national tournament, leave alone an international championship. For them to come so far is a testament to their skill, grit and fire to make their country proud. Our thanks to the coaching and support staff. Only rugby players know how important they are in this sport. This is a new day for Indian Rugby. We go onward and upward from here!”
Vikram Ahuja, President, Rugby India said, “Heartiest congratulations to our U18 Girls team, their performance has been sensational - they displayed courage, skill and mental toughness far beyond their years. This is the first step in a series of measures that Rugby India has taken and will continue to undertake to build all our teams into internationally competitive opponents. Our deepest thanks to the coaches, support staff and all our sponsors and partners for their commitment and kind support towards enabling the team to achieve this milestone.”
The team was trained by coaches from South Africa, Hendrik "Naas" Botha (South Africa rugby legend and four times World Rugby player of the year), Ludwiche Van Deventer (Rugby Sevens specialist), along with Indian Women’s Rugby Team captain Vahbiz Bharucha (mentor and official physiotherapist for the Under 18 Girls rugby team).