The Odisha government and the Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU) on Tuesday signed an agreement to sponsor the Indian national rugby teams for the next three years till 2023, and facilitate high-performance training and conditioning of the players.
Odisha Sports Director R. Vineel Krishna and IRFU President Maneck Unwala signed the agreement in the presence of state Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera at the Kalinga Stadium here.
The sponsorship will be extended towards training, conditioning and incentivising the Indian national rugby teams (men and women) participating in international events.
"This is a significant partnership for us. In recent years, we have seen a steady rise of rugby in terms of popularity and participation, particularly the participation of young players due to the commendable efforts of Rugby India. And this partnership between the Odisha government and Rugby India will not only help develop the sport of rugby further in Odisha and India, but also support and strengthen the high-performance training of Indian national rugby teams," said Behera.
Odisha, which has produced some famous names in Indian rugby, has been promoting rugby among other sporting disciplines.
"This association is a natural fit since our core objective aligns perfectly with the promotion of the sport, which is already gaining grounds in several states. We hope this initiative will help nurture young talent, create a pathway from grassroots to elite and produce more players who can bring laurels to the country," he said.
Rugby India President, Maneck Unwala, said, "We thank the government of Odisha for their continued support. On behalf of Rugby India, I am pleased to welcome them as associate sponsors of the Indian national rugby teams. I am confident that the shared core values and vision of Odisha and Rugby India will ensure that this partnership thrives and is beneficial for our rugby athletes."
After sponsoring the national hockey teams for a period of five years, and later supporting ISL team Odisha FC, the state of Odisha has set another benchmark by sponsoring the national rugby teams.