EVEN though Qatar had fielded a squad at the Sevens tournament of 2006 Doha Asian Games, rugby remained inactive in the country for so many years. The sport was mostly played by members of clubs and expatriate communities, with the Doha Rugby and Football Club taking the lead role in promoting it.
However, things started moving fast after the Qatar Rugby Federation (QRF) was formed last year. It first hosted the inaugural sevens league and followed it up with Asia Championship Division 3 in Doha.
With rugby becoming popular, many, like American football player Rakan Mutawaa, were attracted to it. Four other Qataris — Abdulaziz Al Dossari, Abdul Karem Al Mohannadi, Mubarak Al Malik and Talal Abdullah Mujalli — had also played different sports at some point of time.
Al Dossari played volleyball, Al Mohannadi was in the national handball as well as volleyball teams, Mujalli dabbled in basketball and Al Malik practised handball.
Al Dossari and Al Mohannadi were part of the national team that played at the Doha Asiad while Mujalli missed out due to a minor injury.
“A friend introduced us to this game,” says Mujalli, who led Camels 2 at the Qatar Rugby Sevens League. “They needed some players. There were 44 of us, chosen from among other sports, and then after training, they chose the Sevens team for Asian Games. The rest returned to their original sports.”
With the QRF trying to boost the sport’s profile, these players can definitely encourage youngsters.