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‘Building strong rugby culture will put Nigeria at par with South Africa’

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Former South African rugby national team captain, Jean De Villiers believes Nigeria become one of the top rugby nations of the world like South Africa if the country built a viable rugby culture.

Speaking in Lagos on Tuesday at a programme organised by  DHL in celebration of 50 years in business, which was also used to showcase their support for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, Villiers said rugby could only develop in the country when basic infrastructure like quality pitches and a well sponsored league were put in place to give players the enabling environment to develop their skills.

He said South Africa was able to  take rugby to an enviable height due to the fact that the government and corporate organisations invested a lot of time and resources to make the sports attractive to young players.

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Villiers, who is a former Rugby World Cup winner and DHL ambassador worldwide, noted that Nigeria could also be the best in the sport if sports administrators developed it in schools and grassroots like football.

He stressed that building the culture of sports in children from their formative stage was the major process of making rugby more popular and attractive to the kids.

He also called on Nigerian rugby players to remain steadfast and continue to play the game, adding that watching  quality rugby games on television could help the players improve on their skills .

“I am delighted to visit Nigeria for the first time. It gives me joy that the country is interested in rugby. Meeting with Nigerians, who play in South Africa, I discovered that the country have talents in the sports that are fast and strong.

“However, building a sustainable rugby culture in Nigeria will not be successful in the next five years… if the country want to be among the best in the world, the revamping process has to take 15 or 20  years.

“South Africa has succeeded to build a solid rugby culture in all the streets and that is why you see the country contesting among the best in the world.

“For Nigeria to get to the top in rugby, there must be a partnership programme that will enable Nigerian coaches and players come to South Africa to learn more modern techniques of the game,” he said.

He tipped South Africa to qualify for the 2019 rugby World cup semi-final.


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