Rugby union in Egypt
Rugby was first introduced into Egypt by the British, and was generally played by expatriates. However, the departure of the British from the region meant that the game went into sharp decline. Like many other North African nations, Egyptian rugby tended to look to Europe for inspiration, rather than to the rest of Africa or the Middle East. However, the Dubai Sevens has helped stir up some interest in the sport in Arabic-speaking nations. Rugby union is quite popular in neighbouring Israel, but the hostility between the two nations means that there is little sporting contact between them.
During the lead up to the Dardanelles Campaign, and Gallipoli in World War I, a number of ANZAC and British troops were stationed in Egypt. They played a number of games "in the shadow of the pyramids", and these were "games that meant as much to the players and the keen followers as ever did an international game on the Sydney Cricket Ground". The pitches were described as consisting of "sun-baked mud that rashed and cut all unwary players, or several inches deep in heavy, black mud". Tom Richards would write:
- "Playing on the Delta country, with the mighty monument of Cheops towering to a height of nearly 560 feet [170m] above our playing level, stirred everyone with a feeling of awe. It was certainly a venerable spot to play on... There was an atmosphere so full of Eastern mesmerism - the mystic veil of the East - that all young Australians conjured up wild imaginations of and played their manly game with the same vigour and dash as if they were in an amphitheatre, where any lack of determination meant 'thumbs down' which, in turn, meant death to the losers."
However, there has been an upsurge of rugby in the Middle East - particularly the Gulf, and in Africa, and this has stimulated interest in the game there. In addition, the Egyptian diaspora in English and French speaking countries has become interested in the game.
There are currently twelve Egyptian rugby clubs: the Alexandria Rugby Club, Alexandria Warriors R.F.C, AUC Wolves American University in Cairo, GUC Panthers German University in Cairo, Cairo Rugby Club, British University in Cairo (BUE), Sharm Sharks R.F.C ., The Old Alssonians, Raptors in the Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria Uni, AAST Titans in the Arab Academy for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Eagles in the Alex Aero Club and the Malaysian Alex Rugby Club.
The game is currently in a state of intense development, with an Egyptian rugby Championship established, and attempts to set up a national team.
Under 20s rugby
Egypt has seen some progress in under-twenties rugby.
The first Egypt U-20s team recently toured Lebanon, playing two test matches and winning them both (52-5 and 14-10). Managed by Shady A. Abo Shady, founder of juniors and girls rugby, and coached by Ahmed El-Soussi, the squad was made up of players from several teams in Cairo and Alexandria.
- Egyptian Rugby Football Union
- Alexandria Rugby Club
- Cairo Rugby Club
- "Islam and Rugby" on the Rugby Readers review
- http://rugbyegypt.com/ retrieved 5 July 2009
- http://wesclark.com/rrr/life_less_ordinary.html "A Life Less Ordinary" on the Rugby Readers review Retrieved 26 July 2009
- http://www.alexrugby.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&Itemid=2 Retrieved 5 July 2009
- http://wesclark.com/rrr/islamic_rugby.html "Islam and Rugby" on the Rugby Readers review Retrieved 5 July 2009