Rugby passion in Pakistan brought me here: Coombs

Newly-appointed Welshman predicts bright future.

Fawad Hussain April 10, 2013
Newly-appointed Welshman predicts bright future.

KARACHI: Pakistan sports is not just limited to cricket, hockey or squash and budding youngsters can make a mark in rugby, said the country’s newly-appointed head coach Roger Coombs.

Coombs, a level 3 certified coach, arrived in Lahore last week to start his one-year stint with the Pakistan Rugby Union (PRU). The main task for the Welshman is to work with players at the grass-root level besides training national teams for international competitions.

Before taking up the Pakistan job, the 66-year-old was involved with teams in different parts of the world including teams in the US, Italy, Nigeria and the Caribbean besides clubs in the English Premier League. The veteran also served as head coach of the Bahamas for the World Cup Qualifiers.

In an interview with The Express Tribune, Coombs said he decided to take up the Pakistan job after being intrigued by the passion among the players.

“I met the Pakistan team in Dubai and their eagerness to learn has made me come here,” said the coach. “What I witnessed there was a unique passion about the game. I spoke to other coaches who worked in Pakistan before and they gave me a positive response.”

Coombs is the fourth foreign coach to serve the country as Pakistan have also hired MR Rambo Leung (Hong Kong), Mlke Pirrit (New Zealand) and Justin Fitzpatriq (Ireland).

The Welshman has already supervised various training camps since his arrival, expressing his satisfaction with the current talent.

“Rugby is being played in Pakistan since a long time. It’s good to see that now it is being played at the school and university level. The youngsters are talented and showing a lot of interest which is a good sign.

“Definitely, it’s a long way to go for Pakistan to match with the top teams of the world but I see a possibility of them getting there eventually.”

‘No security concerns’

Coombs arrived at a time when foreign players and coaches have refused to visit the country amid security concerns but the Welshman said he was ‘comfortable here’.

“I feel comfortable here and there are no security concerns.  The previous coaches also gave me a go-ahead as they also had a good time here. In fact, I found people very friendly and hospitable here.” Coombs, who is currently working in Lahore, said he will soon visit Islamabad and Karachi besides other cities to conduct a talent-hunt and coaching assignment.

He said he will also start working with women players but his first target will be to get the best out of the Pakistan team in the Rugby 5’s event to be held in Dubai next week.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2013.


X | 8 years ago | Reply

I've been involved with sports in Pakistan for a long time - primarily having represented Pakistan in International swimming - and was only recently introduced to rugby at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. Being surprised at the sheer passion with which rugby was followed at LUMS, I took up the sport. It is thoroughly enjoyable and bears similarities to traditional sports such as Kabaddi. I believe that if given proper support, rugby does have the potential to thrive in Pakistan. The appointment of Mr. Coombs demonstrates the commitment which the PRU has to promote the sport in Pakistan. The launch of the Super League by the PRU further underlines this point. However, the PRU does need to take concrete steps to wipe out allegations of referees and Union officials playing politics and picking favourites in highly charged matches. If the PRU does manage to handle things well, there is no reason why rugby will not prosper in Pakistan.

Zakir Ahmed | 8 years ago | Reply

When Pakistan can be good at kabaddi then definately it has the potential in rugby too. But I am afraid of politics in this sport too

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