Rugby becoming increasingly popular in Turkey
Engin Esen - ISTANBUL
New rugby squads have been formed in Turkey in recent months, due to an increasing demand to play the game, which very little was known about up until 10 years ago, when it had even been difficult to form two rival teams.
“A few types of rugby have been played in Turkey including fifteen-a-side, thirteen-a-side, and rugby sevens,” explains Ece Tekin, captain player of the Kadıköy Daltons, which became the champion in the women’s competition at a two-day beach rugby tournament in the district of Kadıköy on Istanbul’s Anatolian side on July 1.
“Since there is a great demand for players, we usually attend the tournaments with two squads, the youth team and the A team,” she told Hürriyet Daily News.
Tekin, a marine engineer, has been playing rugby for six years. Before that, she had been playing American football at Istanbul Technical University. On the pitch, she has led the Kadıköy Ladies Rugby team, which unites with the men’s team to form Istanbul’s rugby club.
“I can only define rugby with passion,” said Ata Doruk Çeliktutan, one of the players of the Exiles, which lost the final game to the Lebanese team Lycans at the Third International Beach Rugby League Tournament in Kadıköy’s Kalamış neighborhood.
“People who could become passionately involved and who have the self-confidence should not waste time and should join,” he added.
Twenty-six teams, including nearly 300 players from 20 Turkish squads and the Red Star team from Serbia, competed and stayed in the tents erected on the seaside.
Meanwhile, Turkey has been coming to the forefront in the international rugby scene.
The Turkish national team became the second in the Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Conference in Zagreb on June 8-9.
The national team has been invited to the Rugby League World Cup tournament for the very first time, which will be held in Australia on Aug. 30, said Gürol Yıldız, head of the Turkish Rugby League Association.