If you follow rugby, one of the many things you must have realized is that – speed and power is the most important physical quality you need to succeed in rugby. Life is no different either.
It\'s a big, big world we live in and being a short person in it can be a struggle. But not for, 18-year-old rugby player, Sumitra Nayak, who has fared many hardships growing up and had to experience in different things now entering a new chapter of her life with the help of rugby, a sport that changed her life quite well.
Sumitra, now studying at the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, Bhubaneswar says that “My life is nothing without Rugby.”
Sumitra also captained India’s U-18 Rugby Team in 2016 – an achievement which she’s very proud of and when asked about what’s her future goal, she says, “I want to coach the up and coming talent in rugby.”
Following are the excerpts from the interview:
What position do you play?
I play as scrum-half, it’s the position where I am comfortable playing with and bit tough as well. Scrum-half is all about communication as it requires alertness and the ability to make quick decisions.
What training drill do you dread the most?
My training drills include mostly a ton of running and sprints; it’s all super fun and rewarding, especially if you’ve got a great group of teammates around you.
Which player has been your most difficult opponent?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a single player. But being a girl of small stature, I struggled against the far bigger girls from China and Japan. They are physically well built, powerful, strong and enduring.
Which team do you look forward to playing the most and why?
I would say Japan – they are well-drilled side and extremely hard to play against as well. They are faster and stronger. We often times play many teams but I think playing against Japan is one of the best ways to be challenged.
If you could attend any sporting event in the world, what would it be?
Rugby World Cup!
There isn\'t a rugby player in the world who would knock back the chance to witness one of the greatest Rugby sporting events. It’s something different to experience it lives.
When did you last score a try?
The last time I scored was against Kazakhstan at the Asia Rugby U-18 Championship, Dubai in December 2017.
The most embarrassing moment on a rugby field?
I find it very embarrassing when I get injured during matches.
Growing up who was your all-time favourite rugby player?
I respect and look up to all my senior players, but growing up watching players like Bhagya
has always been impressive, I really admire all three of them.
cause of her strength.
cause of her skills.
cause of her speed.
One word to describe you?
Have you ever tried performing Haka with your teammates?
No, I have not tried it, but I like the idea.
Who would you say is your main role model in sports?
Perry Baker is my favourite athlete; he’s a beast and other-worldly force to reckon with, always worth the price of admission to see him play.
What problems or struggles have you had to overcome?
I have fared many hardships growing up and had to experience different things. But if I look at myself, I simply cannot ignore the impact that rugby has had on my life. It has been a point of direction, made me goal oriented. I owe a lot to rugby. I had a lot of experience in different things that had shaped me into the person I am today.
What has been your greatest achievement in your rugby playing career?
My greatest achievement was captaining India’s U-18 Rugby Team in 2016. It is a dream for every child to just play for the country and captaining the team gave me a whole new experience and also helped to take responsibility and understand the game much more. The responsibility worked beautifully for me.
Are there enough opportunities available for women who are interested in taking up rugby or for those interested in continuing with it after College?
Yes, there are plenty of opportunities - from playing for the clubs, districts, state teams and hopefully one day representing India. The interest among young ladies to participate in rugby is growing, but sadly there still isn’t enough support out there for these aspiring rugby players.
Did you have any concerns about body image and confidence when playing a contact sport, have those concerns changed?
No, I have not. Rugby is truly a sport for all. It caters to all shapes and sizes. There is a position on the field specific to each body type.
What is the most memorable match in which you have played and what is memorable?
Against the USA at the Paris World Games in 2017. They were a very strong team but we played well with a lot of heart to win the match
Personally, how much has rugby helped you progress?
A lot, Rugby has made me into the person I am today. Confidence, good communication, a good problem solver and a leader.
Your plans with and without rugby?
With Rugby, I would like to travel the world and play teams from across the globe. My life is nothing without Rugby.
Your short and long-term goals
Short-term - To gain more knowledge and become a better player.
Long term - I want to coach the up and coming talent.
The perk of being an athlete
Self-confidence. I don’t consider myself weaker than anyone.