The Odisha government on Tuesday signed an agreement with the Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU) to sponsor the Indian national rugby teams till 2023 and facilitate high-performance training and conditioning of the players.
The sponsorship will be extended towards training, conditioning and incentivising the Indian national rugby teams, both men and women, participating in international rugby events, officials said.
The agreement was signed by Director Sports, Odisha, R Vineel Krishna and President, IRFU, Maneck Unwala, on behalf of the two parties, in the presence of Odisha Sports and Youth Services Minister Tusharkanti Behera, Secretary Sports, Vishal K Dev, CEO, IRFU, Naseer Hussain, actor, director and former Rugby International player, Rahul Bose, and other dignitaries.
“This is a significant partnership for us. In recent years, we have seen a steady rise of Rugby in terms of popularity and participation, particularly the participation of young players due to the commendable efforts of Rugby India,” the Sports minister said.
This partnership between the Odisha government and Rugby India will not only help develop the sport of rugby further in the state and India, but also support and strengthen the high-performance training of Indian National Rugby Teams, he said.
Behera said this association is a natural fit since our core objective aligns perfectly with promotion of the sport, which is already gaining grounds in several states.
“We hope this initiative will help nurture young talent, create a pathway from grassroots to elite and produce more players who can bring laurels to the country,” he said.
Rugby India President, Maneck Unwala thanked the Government of Odisha for the continued support. “On behalf of Rugby India, I am pleased to welcome them as Associate Sponsors of the Indian National Rugby teams. I am confident that the shared core values and vision of Odisha and Rugby India will ensure that this partnership thrives and is beneficial for our rugby athletes,” he said.
The state government is dedicatedly working towards their vision of ‘Sports, a priority for Odisha’, by developing the state as a hub for major sporting events and creating international standard high-performance training centres in multiple sports for the country, he said.
Rahul Bose said “This is a historic day for Indian Rugby. Thanks to this sponsorship from the Government of Odisha, national rugby players (women and men) will, for the first time ever, be paid for their services to the Indian rugby teams. This marks a first, solid step towards making rugby a professional sport in the country.”
The Sport and Youth Services department of Odisha has been one of the most proactive, diligent and excellence- focused state sports departments in India, he said, adding “today we celebrate the long-standing partnership we have with Odisha as we pave the way for a bright future for our athletes.”
This association with Rugby India is expected to further build the brand image of Odisha which has emerged as an important cog in the national sporting ecosystem in recent years. The partnership is based on the Odisha governments mission to develop, promote and expand the sports ecosystem beyond Hockey and Football.
After sponsoring the National Hockey teams in 2018 for a period of five years, and later supporting the ISL team – Odisha FC, state of Odisha has set another benchmark by sponsoring the National Rugby Teams, said an official.