Rugby catching on among youths in Nepal overcoming hurdles and challenges thrown by popular sports

A player from Nepal (in blue jersey) vies for the ball during a match. (Photo: Nepal Rugby Association)

Prasun Sangroula

  • Read Time 5 min.

Kathmandu: Football, cricket and volleyball are the games mostly popular in the country. Craze for these games is such that players of many other games who have performed exceptionally in the national and international event are still unheard and unspoken of. 

Among such players that have been overshadowed by the popular sports are the Rugby players. 

The Nepal Rugby Association (NRA) was established on January 29, 1992 and certified by the National Sports Council in 1995.  The sports team whose Association was formed 29 years ago has achieved various milestones till date.  

The national 7s men’s teams played their debut on the world stage in 2015 at the ‘ Pre-Olympic Qualifier Tournament’ in Chennai.  

Later in 2016, both men and women teams participated in the ‘Asia Rugby Development Sevens’ in Chennai.  And similarly, in 2017 the 7s men team participated in Asia Rugby Men’s Trophy in Qatar. Likewise, in 2018 the men’s team went to Singapore and the women’s team visited Brunei.   

Both men’s and women’s teams have been frequently participating in various  international tournaments. But despite their exceptional performances neither the game  nor its players have been able to steal the limelight. 

Photo: NRA

Binod Tamang, Coach for the National Rugby Team, says there are a couple of reasons behind this. He said, “People in Nepal have a wrong perception towards Rugby, they take it as a risky game and think it is only for strong, daring and adventurous people which is totally wrong. 

Similarly, lack of publicity due to financial issues is also another reason for the dismal fan-following,” He further added that in the past year, the game is getting some popularity among youths which is a positive sign for the game.  


Technically the team has taken a giant step of late. Till 2016, there were hardly any people who knew about the game.  Overall in South Asia, both men’s and women’s teams are in a good position, we are in the third rank following Sri-lanka and India. Comparatively the women’s team is more competitive and strong, informed Tamang. 

On the other hand, the Nepali Rugby team is thriving organizationally. Nepal Rugby Association is a full member of  Asia Rugby and an associate member of World Rugby.

“There are many countries who introduced Rugby earlier than Nepal, but haven’t got the associative membership of  World Rugby,” added  Tamang. Likewise, NRA has formed a number of regional and district associations throughout the country. Rugby is slowly drawing the attention of the youths.   

Similarly, the government in coordination with NRA is working in constructing  a standard Rugby stadium in Changunarayan and 20 percent of the work has already been done. At present the team practises in Jawalakhel ground which is not a proper field for Rugby. 

Photo: NRA

“To promote Rugby and tourism in Nepal, we are organizing Himalayan Rugby Festival in the upcoming November in the mountain region and numbers of players from foreign soil are coming to Nepal to participate in it, Tamang informed. Rugby has a greater potentiality to promote tourism. Likewise, the association also has a domestic project known as ‘50k project’ whose goal is to register 50 thousand Rugby players within 2 years from across the country, 20 percent of its work has already been completed.   


Of late the number of youths showing interest in playing rugby is increasing.

Alisha Thapa, captain of Women’s Rugby Team, says, “ Rugby is still very new for most of the people in our country, but at present many have realized that there are many challenges as well opportunities in it.   Every year at least once we get a chance to tour foreign countries to participate in international tournaments, opportunities like this inspires the players”. 

Photo: NRA

 In the beginning, the national team had players from other sports backgrounds but now from the last four years, it has only the players who are fully committed to Rugby.  

We are even grooming the players as junior coaches, referees and match officials. At present, many rugby players are working as coaches in various schools, informed Tamang.   With the motive to promote Rugby in schools,  the association has formed Nepal School Rugby Commission. Under the commission, Rugby has been introduced in about 100 schools across the country.  

Captain for Nepal’s men’s Ruby team Krishna Thapa Chettri believes the quality training and facility will encourage the players to play well. Thus they can achieve victory even in bigger tournaments.


About the opportunities in Rugby, Tamang says “Compared to other sports, Rugby has a higher opportunity. If you show a little more dedication and struggle in this sport,  there are more chances of being selected in the national team”. 

 Likewise, “If we look at global statistics, Rugby has been one of the most popular sports to generate high revenue. Akin to football, Rugby also has various leagues which provide an opportunity to the players to explore,” said Tamang, adding, Nepali players have already started reaching international clubs. 

Nabin Giri, former captain of the National Rugby Team, is now playing for Tokyo Crusader Rugby Football Club- ‘A’ division Rugby club based in Japan.

Globally, Rugby players also get a chance to be involved in various projects that work for the betterment and promotion of Rugby. Likewise, there are also some projects in Rugby that help enhance life skills and promote gender equality, players can even have earnings from those projects, Tamang informed.  

 In 2019, the world cup trophy tour was held in Nepal where two players from Nepal went to the opening ceremony of World  Cup Rugby in Japan as a guest player and got a chance to watch the entire tournament.   

Prior to Covid, there used to be a couple of tournaments annually, but now the association is planning to organize tournaments in big numbers. Till June-July if everything goes well, every province will organize district level tournaments. After that, the association will also organize a national-level tournament this year, according to Tamang.. 

Photo: NRA

Similarly, Nepal at present needs a  lot of technical people in Rugby so in this case if anyone does well in this part there is a higher probability to grab the opportunity.  The most important part of any sector is sustainability and Rugby has capacity to ensure it. As this sport is growing,  the scope for the coaches is also more, which means there will be good earning opportunities also.  

Moreover, for rugby players, various scholarships are also available. Annually,  we are offered scholarships and fellowships from various nations for the players who are good and interested in education but due to lack of deserving candidates it goes unused, Tamang lamented. 


The main mission of the national team at present is to win Asia Rugby Championship of both categories. And another goal is to at least win a medal at SAAF games. 

We are doing our best to achieve our goal, and hope we will attain all our missions, Tamang shared.