ERBIL (Kurdistan) – A rugby team in the Kurdistan Region has begun training and preparations as it gets set to compete in a tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the end of November.
The Kurdistan Irregulars Rugby Club, the only team of its kind in Kurdistan and Iraq made up of locals and foreigners, will participate in the Dubai Rugby 7’s three-day tournament from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, 2018.
The tournament is divided into several categories. Kurdistan Irregulars will play in the International Social Men’s Pool F which includes 32 teams divided into eight groups of four.
Ahead of the competition, Kurdistan 24 visited the team’s training ground in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil where players and coaches were busy running drills and practicing different tactics.
One of the coaches told Kurdistan 24 he believes the sport is “on the up” in the Kurdistan Region.
“Yea, certainly. In my limited time in Kurdistan – more recently, there is a lot of skill, a lot of determination, a lot of fitness. And a lot of the guys are really keen to play rugby,” he said.
Unlike traditional rugby, rugby sevens teams are made up of seven players instead of 15 and the match is divided into two seven-minute halves instead of the usual 40-minute ones. Rugby sevens is also considered to be more fast-paced.
Kurdistan Irregulars’ first game is against Wyvern Harlequins on Nov. 29 before they play BSAK Old Boys the day after.
The Kurdish club has competed in the Dubai 7’s in the past; most recently, in 2015 and 2016. However, their performances were not good, and they failed to progress to the final rounds of the tournament.
The team is optimistic this year and believe they have the right squad to achieve the best results.
(Additional reporting by Darbaz Ahmed)