Indonesian Rugby players, supporters and sponsors were in a celebratory mood as the Indonesia National Sports Committee (KONI) officially recognised Rugby Union as a National Sport during an Inauguration Ceremony held in Jakarta on Wednesday August 28. KONI Chairman Tono Suratman led the ceremony, which was attended by members of KONI and PRUI, including current and former players from the Indonesian National Rugby Team, the Rhinos, that also included Co-Founder and recently honoured PRUI Life Member, Stephen Barber.
Persatuan Rugby Union Indonesia (PRUI), whose vision is “to bring rugby and its core values to the forefront of Indonesian sport for the benefit of all” was founded on May 10, 2004 by a group of seven volunteers and since then has seen significant growth at all levels of the game, including junior and senior sides, coaches and match officials.
“I see this event as PRUI’s coming of age”, said Steven Haurissa, who will be reporting to KONI as PRUI’s Head of International Cooperation and currently leads a Sub-Committee on International Affairs within the Union.
“We, now, will not only have to be accountable to our mates and the association but, also to our fellow countrymen”.
“We will always be ready in facing anything that comes our way and we will do our utmost to develop this game all around our nation”.
“Let’s see how rugby does in Indonesia now we have a management that has never previously existed”, Tono said, who pointed out that rugby was not totally new to Indonesia — it was played decades ago by members of the military plus by expatriates back in the early 1900’s and in more recent times since the early 1970’s.
PRUI became a permanent member of KONI on February 21, 2013 and Wednesday’s ceremony officiated Rugby’s Membership.
Rugby’s global profile has grown since 2009, when the International Olympic Committee announced that Rugby Sevens would join Olympic competition in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The Rhinos more than held its own in the 2013 HSBC Asian 5 Nations Division III Tournament, defeating China 37-13 to take third place on June 7.
The win was the Rhinos’ 10th from 18 tests since its first match against Cambodia on June 27, 2006.
PRUI’s members are heavily tied in with the national side. Akmal Nasser and Yudha Ramon, General Manager and Chairman of PRUI, respectively, both played for the Rhinos before hanging up their boots and trading the pitch for the office.
“The last ever match we played was won in the last 2 minutes after a nail-biter against Pakistan in the 2011 HSBC Asian 5 Nations Division III Tournament played in Jakarta”, Akmal said.
“Now our national duties are basically in the administration of the sport but rest assured the passion and commitment is still the same as we had when we were in the field.”
PRUI still has a lot of work to do in a country where the Rugby’s impact is limited.
“With KONI’s full endorsement of rugby being accepted as a fully fledged National Sport, it is now so much easier … for the PRUI to develop the sport with the support of our national sporting body right behind us to ensure cooperation of other organizations, whether private or public”, Akmal added.
“For example, PRUI, like any other National Sport, should and must have its own ‘home ground’ that it can be proud of. However, such a venture is … far fetched for PRUI to go it alone”.
Recognition by KONI marks an important step for the PRUI as it seeks to become a Full Member of the International Rugby Board (IRB) in November this year.
PRUI has been an Associate Member of the IRB since 2008.
Indonesia has started its potential Olympic tilt by establishing a National Under 20 Team sponsored by HSBC, which will compete in Asian Rugby’s biggest Under 20’s Rugby Competition, the Johor Rugby Carnival, to be played in Johor Bahru, Malaysia on September 14-15.
The U20’s side known as the Harimau Muda (Young Tigers) will be up against China, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Hong Kong, Thailand and hosts Malaysia.
KONI recognition also means PRUI will be able to select and train both Men’s and Women’s Teams for the South East Asia Games (SEAG) in Singapore in 2015, further enhancing the profile of the sport at home and abroad.
The Jakarta Globe is a PRUI Media Partner.