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Anton Nevalainen competing at the Tampere 7s tournament in September.Helsinki Rugby Club looks to attract new players with free courses in November.

As the embers of the latest Rugby World Cup begin to cool and the superlatives regarding New Zealand’s triumph start to dry up, it is becoming clear that this most intricate and physical of sports has a real feel-good factor surrounding it. The world cup has also provided people with the perfect opportunity to drag up the usual stories regarding Finland’s lowly world ranking position, but the truth of the matter is that rugby in this country is thriving.

Helsinki Rugby Club has now been in existence for 13 years and continues to go from strength to strength, among both natives and foreigners. The club has two men’s teams competing in the national division, a women’s team that is a force to be reckoned with and a junior side that continues to groom the country’s international stars of the future.

In order to ensure the continued popularity and to get as many people involved as possible, HRC will be running rugby courses for beginners throughout November. They are designed, as the name implies, to teach people the basics of the game and introduce skills. Tony Brick, the chairman of HRC, is very proud of the concept and believes once people get involved they will become hooked. “The course is held over six days in total and no registration is needed; there is no need to attend all the sessions, and people will be looked after even if they join late. We will be focusing on the basics of the game, keeping in mind that most people coming probably haven’t had any rugby experience beforehand. So, there will be ball handling, basic attacking and defence drills and we will go over the basics of tackling and other physical parts of rugby, but there won’t be any full-on contact to begin with.”

The game of rugby is well-suited to Finns, as it combines the nation’s love of physical sport with a high degree of skill. With two clubs in the greater Helsinki area, the game is certainly flourishing – HRC alone has over 120 members – and it would appear it has a healthy future. Courses like these can only help to boost the prominence of rugby, and perhaps, sometime in the near future, will help to lift the national team to the lofty heights of 92nd place in the rankings and beyond.

CRAIG HOUSTON
HELSINKI TIMES
Photo: TONY BRICK