Ainol Says Women can play Rugby!

An interesting article Ainol Razman found in Al-Jazeera online:

Rugby and women may not seem an ideal combination in Islamic Iran, but females are enthusiastically taking up the rough sport amid official encouragement for them to participate in physical activities.
Women in Iran proudly see themselves as the most liberated in the Middle East, but are still expected to combine their careers and leisure activities with traditional expectations of childbearing, cooking and cleaning. All women must cover their heads and bodily contours in Iran, with the rugby field being no exception.
Players wearing the ‘maghnaeh’, a garment that fully covers the head, shoulders and neck, along with a loose blue waistcoat, a long-sleeved dark T-shirt and loose tracksuit trousers run from rucks to mauls all over the field.
It is not the most appropriate uniform for playing rugby, but the players don’t seem to mind, especially when the game allows them to let off steam in a way that is unimaginable elsewhere in their lives.
“I am extraordinarily interested in rugby and it does not matter what I wear. It is not uncomfortable,” said 16-year-old Sahar Azizi, a high school student.
Elham Shahsavari, a 24-year-old Iranian woman, believes she has found a sport perfect for her, and is a member of the Tehran women’s rugby team.
“In early 2006, Gorgan University advised me to play rugby because of my physical power,” said the well-built Shahsavari, who overcame objections from her family who worried about her travelling to training in a Tehran suburb.
“Rugby Union was just my thing.”
A quarter of a century ago, in the early years of the 1979 Islamic revolution when competitive sports for women were strongly discouraged, it would have been unthinkable for Iranian women to play a sport as physical as rugby.
However much has changed since then, even if women playing sport in Iran still have a long way to go before they are truly competitive at an international level.
In the 1990s, encouragement from Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of then-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, helped women to take up sport again.
Initially women mainly participated in stationary sports such as archery and shooting but now compete in a wider range of physical activities including strength-based disciplines like rowing, martial arts and rugby.
Alireza Iraj, Tehran women’s rugby coach, admitted that the team’s Islamic dress would make it impossible for them to play against sides from Western nations as “the long sleeves and loose clothes gives the opponents an easy chance to grab them.”
“They have to play with Muslim countries who have similar clothes,” he said.
As a man coaching a female team, 37-year-old Iraj knows he has to stay in line with one of Iran’s Islamic rules which states that members of the opposite sex cannot touch each other unless they are married couples or immediate members of a family.
When advising the team on how to tackle, Iraj keeps a decent distance away from the women and then instructs one of the players to demonstrate how to grab an opponent rather than carrying out the move himself.
“This is not a violent sport for women at all, despite what people think. We need to discharge our energy,” said Zahra Nouri, team captain.
Pouran Taherabadi, the mother of one of the players, was happy to see the level of physical activity, saying it would make it easier for her to deal with her energetic daughter at home.
“It is good for us that she has the chance here to discharge her energy,” she said.
“I have nothing against it.”
The Tehran women’s rugby team was set up in 2003 and a year after it won the national championship.
Other women’s rugby teams in the country are from Golestan, Kerman, Kermanshah, Semnan, North Khorasan, Shiraz and Isfahan.
So Ladies …. if you are interested playing the game, we’ve already started one. Please contact the union ( for more details.

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We believe in Us

“Boy .. did you guys play cricket or rugby?”

“It must be hard on the boys ..”

“We shouldn’t be in this group, Laos Cambodia and Indonesia is where we should be …”

It’s a week to this day when we were beaten by Guam … our biggest losing margin in an International test match (so we thought) but 3 days later, we were thrashed by the Volcanoes by a bigger margin.

What went wrong?

We need to work on the 4Ms in rugby:-

  1. Method,
  2. Material,
  3. Manpower &
  4. measurement

To have all these Ms we need the most important M of all – MONEY!

The boys did the best within their capabilities. I feel for them when I saw a couple of them shed their tears after the games. It is not their fault. What they are lack of are these 5Ms.


After the great BRFU Season, the management team has narrowed down 40 of the best players in the league. Sadly only 18 turned up during the first training session, and a lot of them has turned the offer down based on their other commitments. This is very crucial for any National Team, we need a large pool of players to choose from. We need players who are willing to forgo everything … and having the pride of representing his nation. To represent the nation is a privilege and not their rights. We need players to compete within the training camp to be the best. Only with this .. we can have a strong national team as they will be a healthy competition within the training camp, everyone will give 150% effort to be chosen.


When we were in Guam, we were given training equipments that most of our players used for the very first time. Some of the boys didn’t even know how to put on the contact suit. We need these materials for us to prepare our boys physically and psychologically. We need the boys to receive big hits by their peers, and we need their peers to give them the big hits without injuring them. When they are use to receive all these hits, they body and mind will be prepared for it, hence they won’t be any more fear when you get the big hits from their opponents. Rugby is all about contact.

We also need Machines to bulk the boys up. The boys need to have more muscle in order to compete internationally. We do have the height and the weight, what we need is for them to tone up a wee bit. (or bulk up for the others … you know who you are.)


Coaches need to go for trainings too, the coaches need to improve their method of coaching. For 25 years of playing (minus 10 years here and there) I’ve learned the same method over and over again, until I met Mr. Willie Hetaraka who was in Guam coaching the Guam National Side. His coaching method was based on the law of the game. It is something new to all of us, and with this knowledge we can improve our strategy of the game. We need to work on our Strength and improve our Weaknesses. We need to know where we went wrong, only with mistakes we learn to be better.


How do you measure yourselves in this game? Through experience. The more you play the more rugby knowledge you’ll get.

We also need specialize measurement for each players in the team. For example:-

  1. heavy and Mobile front row forwards
  2. Tall and mobile 2nd rowers
  3. Fast and aggressive back row forwards
  4. agile, fast and cunning scrumhalf
  5. precision, fast and agile fly half
  6. fast and robust midfield backs
  7. very fast wings and fullbacks

How do we measure this, let the coaches set the target!

Best the MOST important M for us to achieve all these is MONEY. The Union has spend a lot of moolahs trying to develop the game in the country. We need Cash to send our players abroad to play more international TEST matches. Only by playing more, the players can gain more experience and know where they are lack in.

To send a team for a weekend test match abroad, we will need at least BND20K. But the question is always chicken or egg first when it comes to the sponsors. Prove to us that you can win, we will give you the grant, but for us, without the grant, we can go further than where we are.

We have a very young team now. 7 of the players have not reached the age of 20 yet whilst the rest of them are below 23. Three of them are between 23-25 and 2 of them are below 30. Only Granpa Hansie and Uncle Qadir are well above their 30’s. I believe in this team. I see their camaraderie and I am proud to say, THIS is the team of the future for the next 5 years. With the right Method, more Manpower having enough materials and ready to be measured with some money … I believe the current team will make Brunei Proud of their achievements. Only Time will tell.

So for the potential sponsors out there, who believe in us, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Let’s do this for BRUNEI!


We would like to thank Stephan Gratham, Janice Sablan, Guam Marriott Resort and the rest of Guam RU for their hospitality, Jay Savage of Philippines RU and Sean Moore of ARFU for their assistance, Willie Hetaraka for the pointers, Jarrad of IRB, Team Guam and Team Philippines for the hard knock lesson, Brunei’s Youth and Sports Department … and last but not least … the rest of you who believe in us.