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Nel predicts Nigeria’s greatness in world rugby

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World Rugby Service Manager, Steph Nel believes every young Nigerian has the potential to be great in rugby if given the right direction

Nel, who is on a three-day working visit to Nigeria to ascertain the level of rugby development in the country, as well as interact with the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF) to chart a new course for the growth of the sport, told journalists at the Rugby House, Surulere, Lagos, said the game would be more attractive and interesting to watch if more competitions were organised from the grassroots to the national level.

The World Rugby representative also commended the current NRFF board led by Kelechukwu Mbagwu for promoting the game in Nigeria despite the financial challenges they face due to lack of sponsors.

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Nel said more youths would be attracted to the game when they see the already established stars in the sport get accolades and recognition.

“After being in Lagos for some days, I have observed that many young Nigerians have the genetic and physical stature to play rugby.

“I am here on a fact finding mission and to see the level the sports has grown so far in all the regions in Nigeria. I have also visited the stadium to see the facilities in place.

“Our job at the world body is to seek for ways to develop the game in Africa. Nigeria is currently ranked 16th in African rugby, but the country can be among the top in Africa if more competitions were organised to keep exposing the players.

“World rugby offers financial grants to African federations to sustain the sports in their various countries, but this is not enough. More sponsors need to assist to promote the game and this can only be achieved through having accurate kick off time for every game and also place high premium in organising a well publicised competition.

“I will be in Nigeria for three days, will also visit Ghana, Senegal and Kenya. All this is to see how rugby can get more awareness in Africa. More youths need to be attracted to play rugby by organising competitions in schools and every strata of the society,”he said.

In his reaction, NRFF President, Kelechukwu Mbagwu commended Nel for appreciating the board for developing rugby in Nigeria, as well as its pledge to support the West African Rugby Series scheduled for Lagos later this year.

In the World Rugby representatives’ delegation was the Development Officer, Rugby Africa, Charles Yapo.

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