The General Manager, Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF), Azeez Ladipo, on Tuesday said lack of funds had hindered the growth of the sport in Nigeria.
Ladipo said this in an interview with our reporter in Lagos, adding that Rugby was widely accepted by youths but required more funding by government and corporate world to attain global ranking.
Ladipo, a former national team captain, is saddled with the responsibility of strategic planning, policy implementation, collaboration with the technical department for the developing rugby in schools, both for male and female.
He said this implied training and education, increasing participation of teams in the league and contributing to the general high-performance strategy of rugby players across the country.
Ladipo told our reporter that although having come out of a ban by the world governing body in 2022, there were lots achievements, especially in 2023.
“We are coming from a two-year ban from 2020 to 2022, and we have been involved in a major competition in Mauritius.
“There we did well playing against tough opponents from the continent, and placed eight at the end. This really boosted our morale.
“However, in a world series qualifiers held in September, we failed in the hands of South Africa who are a top ranked nation in rugby,” said Ladipo.
According to him, rugby is not really where it is supposed to be in Nigeria. “However, it is well accepted by the youth because it inculcates values like discipline, teamwork, ability to learn from others and dedication to the team by players.
“It is not a one man show like football where we have a superstar dictating the pace of the game, but a combination of everyone putting their efforts and strength,” Ladipo said.
He said coming out the ban by the world’s governing body, Nigeria was ranked number 22 in Africa, but despite that the country was able to reach the quarterfinals at a recent competition in Mauritius.
He said being eight best team in Africa was commendable, “however, we still have a lot to do, especially to develop our elite league for men and women.
“When you look at South Africa dominating at the world level you will agree with me that rugby is an African sport.
“But if only we can have the right fundings from government and the corporate world, Nigeria would definitely rise to challenge the big teams at the world championships.
“For this to happen the right structure has to be put in place to develop our league and also embracing Nigerian players who were born in Europe and in the U.S.”