Asia Rugby President on growing rugby in Vietnam
The newly elected Asia Rugby President, Qais Al Dhalai, from the United Arab Emirates, recently visited Vietnam to discuss the growth of rugby. Currently, Vietnam does not have a rugby federation or union, and the sport has been driven by expatriate rugby clubs (Hanoi Dragons and Saigon Geckos), and the ChildFund Pass It Back program.
With Vietnam and Cambodia set to host the next two SEA Games, Asia Rugby will be keen to grow the participation of the eligible nations for the next two international events as rugby 7s is one of the events.
Rugby in Vietnam
Although we have not seen the manifesto which Qais Al Dhalai delivered to secure his electoral win last month, one of his key drivers is the “commitment to grow the game all over Asia” said the Asia Rugby website.
During his trip to Vietnam, the President met with the Vietnam National Olympic Committee Secretary-General Mr. Manh Van Tran and to talk about the future of Rugby in Vietnam. From the Vietnamese perspective, Mr. Manh Van Tran said they agreed to “the concept to develop the sport in Vietnam with the support and help from Asian Rugby Federation and to support to establish National Federation in the coming time.”
Social Rugby Clubs in Vietnam
Vietnam has two strong social, mainly expatriate rugby clubs in the Hanoi Dragons and Saigon Geckos. The clubs have men’s, women’s and veterans teams as well as mixed touch rugby. Saigon Geckos also started youth development and Hanoi Dragons have been assisting with the ChildFund Pass It Back program since it started in Vietnam a few years ago.
A new Vietnamese all-girl rugby club was formed in 2019, the Kim Boi Wildcats.
Rugby tournaments in Vietnam
There are a number of rugby tournaments already in Vietnam so Asia Rugby any new Rugby Federation in the country would do well to work with the existing clubs and tournaments, and importantly, develop local rugby talent.
The Hanoi Tens Rugby tournament takes place in January and in 2019 the first women’s rugby team to compete from Vietnam, the Kim Boi Wildcats, took part; a success story of the Pass It Back Program. The girl’s team also recently competed in the Singapore Life Girls’ Rugby TRC Cup and their U12 girls won the Plate. It is the first time an all Vietnamese rugby team had competed abroad.
A hugely popular rugby tournament, the Saigon Tens also takes place around September every year with international teams participating.
The Indochine Cup includes both the Hanoi Dragons and Saigon Geckos clubs and Saigon will host the rotating tournament in 2020 in HCMC. In addition, the Geckos have their own internal rugby league. A number of other touch and rugby tournaments are also hosted by the rugby clubs in Vietnam.
Southeast Asia Rugby 7s and SEA Games
One of the reasons for the timing of the recent AR President’s visit was the SEA Games, which just wrapped up in the Philippines, and which Vietnam will host next in 2021 followed by Cambodia in 2023.
According to the AR report, the discussions between the AR President and the Vietnam Olympic Committee included agreeing setting up a “National Governing Body for rugby in Vietnam and help in the inclusion of Rugby at the South East Asian Games 2021.”
Mr. Qais Al Dhalai said, “I believe that today’s meeting with Mr Tran was a huge success and big step into unlocking various doors which will help flourish rugby in Asia… the establishing of Vietnam Rugby Federation and collate every effort for the inclusion of Rugby in multi-sport event across Asia and in particular SEA Games 2021 and 2023.”
- SEA Games 2021: Hanoi, Vietnam 21 November – 2 December 2021.
- SEA Games 2023: Cambodia, Dates TBC 2023.
Of the 11 participating nations at the 2019 Southeast Asia Games, only 6 were represented playing rugby 7s in the Philippines:
All six of these nations have rugby Unions or Federations. But of the other 5 nations, only two – Cambodia and Brunei- have a rugby federation, but neither of these countries sent rugby teams to the SEA Games for sevens rugby in 2019:
- Cambodia (has a Rugby Federation)
- Brunei (has a Rugby Federation)
- Timor Leste (no Rugby Federation)
- Myanmar (no Rugby Federation)
- Vietnam (no Rugby Federation)
Cambodia Rugby has also been facing several problems in recent years and is still not part of Asia Rugby since being expelled in 2016. Brunei and Cambodia did compete at the SEA Games in 2017.
Myanmar also has some expat rugby clubs and touch rugby in the form of the Yangon Dragons and a Yangon Japanese Rugby Club and a rugby development program, the Little Dragons.
Timor Leste has no rugby federation but the ChildFund Pass It Back Program started operating there recently to introduce rugby development.
Although it sounds like some positive talks were held, Asia Rugby President, Qais Al Dhalai, has his work cut out for him, and more will need to be done in the region to bring the relevant parties to the table to really grow and develop the game of rugby and remove any obstacles as well.
Read more about Asian rugby
- The best rugby tournaments this December.
- Read our thoughts on the new Asia Rugby Exco challenges.
- 2020 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and the Singapore Sevens 2020.
- The winners of the Asia Rugby U19 Boys Championship 2019.
- Find out about the best national team Asian rugby 7s events here.