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Helsinki Rugby Club Helsinki Rugby Club
by Helsinki Rugby Club
2007-05-19 10:30:21
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Reintroduced to Finland in 1999, Rugby is facing a fantastic progression these days. It is the fastest growing team sport in Finland. Almost every year a new club is created. This sport is not only played in Helsinki but in greater Finland. Teams are blooming everywhere.

Photo: Liisa TeräsvuoriThe most important are of course in Helsinki, which yields two clubs. But there is also Tampere who won the championship last year, Jyväskylä, Oulu and Turku. These clubs play in the 1st division. A development division was created last year for the new clubs to level up and hopefully play in first division some day. The newest clubs are Rauma, Vaasa, Lahti and Rovaniemi. The two clubs of the capital city also enter a second team in the development league.

Another very interesting fact: This sport is not played only by men, three women's teams have been competing for the last three years to win the Finnish cup.

Today Helsinki Rugby Club (HRC) is the most populated club. About 90 players are training. A lot of foreigners are playing as well as Finns. 15 nationalities are represented. Mostly Europeans and Scandinavians, of course, but also several Kiwis, Aussies and Americans.

Photo: Liisa TeräsvuoriOn Saturday 28th April a big openday was held in Myllypuro in Helsinki. The day started quite early (for a Saturday) with the training of the under 20’s Finnish National Team. They are preparing for the 26th of May when they will play against an English team of Junior’s touring in Finland. The game will be played before another game of the European Cup where Finland will try to defeat Slovenia.

Later on that day from 13:00 to 15:30 the Junior team trained with guys of the HRC.

Photo: Liisa TeräsvuoriAt 16:00 the openday started properly. The new comers were loaned shorts, socks and shirts so that they really looked like rugby players.

Workshops had been setup in order to introduce the different concepts of this exciting game.
First and foremost to master this surprising oval ball! Being able to pass the ball to somebody else with relative precision. Not too high, but not in the socks! Running with the ball. Understanding the underlying concepts of rugby. Protecting the ball, passing the ball backwards and passing the ball while running.

Photo: Liisa TeräsvuoriThen a second workshop started. A good one: the lineouts! Everybody may have seen some day these giants going up into the skies to catch the ball floating in the air. In order to go so high, jumpers need the help of the lifters. They grab the jumper by the shorts and lift him as high as they can in order to be higher than the opponents. All the new comers have had the right to this exciting sensation. Some even said they saw the Olympic Stadium from up there!

The third workshop was mauls and rucks. To make it simple, this happens when you see a pile of players somewhere on the pitch! The fourth workshop allowed the new comers to become familiar with the impact of their weight when they run at full speed. Thanks to these big pads made of soft rubber the new comers discovered the fun of charging at an opponent very hard without any danger. Rugby is a contact sport and even a combat sport but we wanted to take no risk at all during this day. These rubber shields were perfect to have fun for everybody (yeh… someone has to be behind the shield…)

Eventually to close this long day a game of ‘touch’ rugby was held. The purpose of ‘touch’ rugby is to touch the ball carrier with two hands in order to stop the game. In a real game, the opponent should tackle the ball carrier. But then again the purpose of the day was not to see our new comers going back home with bruises!

Photo: Liisa TeräsvuoriThis game was fun and allowed to put into practice some of the phases introduced during the day and to play rugby for real!

About thirty players took part to this openday, again very cosmopolite. Americans, English, Germans and Finns: this shows again the very open spirit of the lovely sport. The sponsors of HRC were also present to show their support for the club

For more information on rugby in Finland and to find a club close to your place, please visit the website of the Finnish Federation of Rugby .

If you live in Helsinki go to the Helsinki Rugby Club website or contact Stephen Whittaker: Stephen@helsinkirugby.org

Photos by Liisa Teräsvuori

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Simon Elliott2007-05-15 10:11:35
Excellent report and some accurate comments made! Shame there were not more pictures of the fantastic back division...

James Cooper2007-05-15 18:55:58
Simon, All you lads ever do is drop the ball after the forwards have worked so hard for it!!

Marc-o2007-05-19 18:59:21
Don't listen to them... backs love forwards... ;)

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