Exaggerations aside, Rugby at UNMC is undoubtedly thriving! UNMC Men’s Rugby Team secured 3rd place in the recently concluded Asia Pacific University Rugby tournament whilst the Women’s Rugby Team were crowned champions of the IPT touch rugby tournament. It is arguably at an all-time high for Rugby at UNMC. The teams kept performing outstandingly well at tournaments while attendance is high for both the male and female games.
They are known as the Knights (Men’s Team) and the Royals (Women’s Team).
It is time to check out on why these brave but still gentle souls do what they must for the love of the sport: playing Rugby.
I know rugby players, they run hard and they tackle hard, but then they go off the field and they can be quite gentle – Ralph Fiennes
Muhammad Taquiddin (President of the Club)
‘Iddin’ as he is called, is a second year student in Civil Engineering. Iddin is no new comer to the game as he has been on the field ever since his teenage years (Yes, you guessed it right – since thirteen). He is a highly experienced ruggerite who was chosen to play for his home state and afterwards the Malaysian Under-16 national team. Iddin fondly remembers the time he travelled to Hong Kong alongside the national team and defeated the home team on their soil, in a rugby trip organized by the Malaysian Rugby Union.
Iddin mentioned that he plays rugby due to the strong feeling of enthusiasm and passion that he has for the sport. Moreover, he states that Rugby at UNMC has helped him get to know diverse people from various nationalities. Furthermore, he also enjoys the aspect of knowledge-sharing at the Rugby Club where team members share their knowledge of the game which indeed has been a key component in the team’s success in the recent past.
As a rugby saying goes: “All the talent in the world won’t take you anywhere without your teammates”. Taquiddin who is currently in his 2nd year wishes to pursue a career as a developer which is part of what he studies at present – Civil Engineering. However, it won’t stop him from engaging in Rugby as he indicated that he would continue to play rugby due to the very nature and benefit Rugby brings to his life. He is grateful for the characteristics of teamwork and trusting one another which Rugby has embedded in his life, apart from being a great platform to make a good network of friends.
Muhammad Fariz bin Mohd Shahrom (Captain – Nottingham Knights)
Rugby has taught me a lot about life; that hard work, resilience, getting back up, the jubilation when you score that try. You feel quite special being on a rugby team, the camaraderie, the family you become a part of. These are the reasons why I keep wanting to pick up the ball and keep playing Rugby.
Unlike Taquiddin, Fariz started playing Rugby a year before he became a teenager. He started off his career playing for his school, the Saad Foundation College. Afterwards he played for several teams and clubs such as KYS Rammers, KYSER Monsters and Royal Selangor Rugby Club. Fariz says that his parents were initially not in favour of him engaging in the sport due to its rough nature. Ironically though, Fariz later found out that his father was a rugby player during his schooling days too. That was when he found a reason to convince his parents to allow him to continue playing rugby.
To be honest, Fariz is a huge asset to the club simply because he does what he does quite brilliantly on the field. Similar to Iddin, he represented his state team in the Malaysian Rugby Championship (KRM). Fariz also travelled to Singapore to participate in the Barclays Cup where his state team competed against teams from Hong Kong, France, and Dubai. Fariz considers himself fortunate to be part of the club. He served as the club’s secretary during his foundation year, club president during his first year, and this season’s captain. He believes that his achievements on the field will decorate his CV for job applications. Furthermore, as a Year 2 International Relations student, he is delighted at the prospect of getting a posting as a diplomat in the future which will allow him to experience the rugby culture overseas.
Rodzshazlin Rodzane (Captain – Nottingham Royals)
Shazlin or rather called Shibby as she calls herself, is a final year International Relations student.
I started Rugby at UNMC as an extra co-curricular activity as I was also looking for a sport to venture in. I do not have any prior experience in Rugby. Nottingham is the first time ever I started playing rugby or even heard of touch rugby. I have no prior knowledge before, I was basically clueless. Before rugby I did cheerleading and I had an accident in which I had to quit cheer. So I decided to join Rugby, in a way it was a risk to my injuries….but joining rugby is the best decision I’ve ever made in my university life!
She remembers how her male friends encouraged her to join the rugby club as they wanted to start a rugby team for girls. She mentioned that she initially did not expect to like the game. Apparently, she hated the aspect of running, but somehow mysteriously fell in love with touch rugby although the fundamentals of it is speed and stamina as she recognises it. Shazlin says she overcame her hate of running by actually trying to improve and make herself master the art of speed and stamina. It is quite amazing how she overcame and turned one of the things she didn’t like, into one of the things she now enjoys.
Shazlin is proud of her teammates. She finds the unity and friendliness between the girls as a key underlying cause of the success that the team had recently, which was essential for them in clinching the title championship at the IPT Touch Rugby tournament.
With regards to what the future holds for our Royals Captain, she mentioned that she is quite interested in becoming a diplomat too, just like our Knights Captain. However, Shazlin said that she’s not quite sure just yet. In her own words:
One thing for sure, my rugby career will not end in Nottingham. I would still play even after I graduate or even when I start a family.
Tim is a British mobility student, currently in the 2nd year of Environmental Biology. He was two steps ahead of Iddin and one step ahead of Fariz in first picking up a rugby ball, as he started at the age of 11.
Tim enjoys keeping fit ever since he was a kid, so adding a physical side to being fit is what appealed him about the prospect of playing Rugby. Attending training thrice a week helps him maintain his fitness and physical health which he believes is important alongside (and for) his studies.
Tim has played rugby regularly throughout his schooling career. He started off playing as a scrum-half and later settled into the position of full-back at age 14. Tim is a team player (no pun intended), as he believes communication between players and officials is a key to success in this sport. Keeping to his words, any member of the rugby club can testify to the fact that Tim is the one who brilliantly communicates and encourages others to communicate on the field. Well, just in case you’re wondering, ‘communication’ in executing tactics and passes among players can be vital.
Tim is unsure of whether he should continue playing rugby post-university as he predicts that the time factor might hold him back from playing rugby and engaging in a different career in the future.
Zatus Sofwa Abdul Rahman
Zatus is currently pursing the course of International Communication Studies with French. She is in the midst of her third and final year. Just like her captain Shazlin, Zatus has not played Rugby prior to joining UNMC. Zatus joined the club last year as a direct result of Fariz (then President of the club) persuading her to join the girls team. She mentioned that she was reluctant to join as the number of females in the club was significantly low in the previous year. However, she is happy that the girls team have come to great heights this year.
I asked Zatus as to what motivated her to play rugby at UNMC:
I played for fun in the beginning for the sake of doing some kind of sports as the only exercise I did back then was going to the gym. I missed having to do sports as in high school, I was a MSSD volleyball player [district level]. It was for fun and I enjoyed it.
Zatus is delighted at the prospect that the girls team had gotten the opportunity to participate in touch rugby tournaments. The first tournament she participated was a mix touch rugby tournament in ISKL. Although the team lost that day, she mentioned that this particular tournament has taught her a lot:
The experienced I gained has taught me that as long as you do something with all your heart, the outcome comes second and the first thing you will feel is satisfaction.
She went on to give some inspiring accounts of her rugby career thus far. I can’t help but quote her words as it is, as it show the values that a sport can instil in a person which can be life-changing and inspiriting. She said:
Sports can really give you good life lessons. Rugby really taught me about teamwork and giving support. In rugby, communication is really important, words that we always say are “I’ve got you”, “I’m your half”, “I’ll cover you”, “You have me on your right/left”. It is all about supporting and trusting your teammates. A rugby player is nothing without her teammates.
Krishan is a popular lad in the club. He is currently 19 years old and started playing rugby in school at the age of 17, but didn’t really stick to it as he was more involved in cricket. He wanted to try a different sport rather than the ones he has already tried when he joined UNMC last year, just for the thrill of it. However, he admitted that he had to pick himself where he initially left off by playing Rugby, again. This time with the Nottingham Knights.
“I joined the club because of my love for the game as well as my family’s love for the game,” said Krishan, whose grandfather played for the Royal Malaysian Police back in the days. He said that he has no regrets joining the club as he has enjoyed the ride thus far with the club and its members.
One thing he has learnt from Rugby is the importance of discipline and teamwork. He mentioned that winning is just a mindset. It may sound like a textbook answer but this is what makes a team stand out from the rest, according to him.
I believe that with a winning mentality, I would not only be able to win on the field, but also grow in my career path. It may look like an overly physical game but the very essence of a great rugby player starts with a great mindset, a winning mindset. To win on and off the field is my goal, regardless of how long it takes, wherever it may be or how many setbacks I may face. In the end, I will win.
Club President Taquideen has high hopes of the club for the future. He hopes that the club would organise a touch rugby tournament for both genders and a Rugby 10’s tournament right here at UNMC next semester. Rugby has certainly prospered at UNMC recently, and with the future looking all puppies and sunshine, the Rugby Club at UNMC would like to extend a welcome to rugby enthusiasts out there to come and explore this great game!
Link to additional photos: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SM.unmc/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1200054526755504
By Insaf Bakeer Markar
Photographs by Hariz Danial