The IRFU was established in May 2004 by a small group of founding volunteers to target the development of Rugby for Indonesian Nationals. Prior to the establishment of the IRFU, Rugby had been played in Indonesia for over 30 years, however it was for most of that time a sport dominated by expatriates and the formation of the IRFU set about to change that trend. Since May 2004, there has been a large growth in the National participation levels from junior through to senior players, coaches and match officials.

The IRFU is fully funded by generous sponsors and supporters, and it receives no financial assistance from the Indonesian Government or other sporting bodies. All monies raised by the IRFU go towards the development of Rugby for Indonesians.

The establishment of the Indonesian National 15’s Team, known as the “Rhinos” in 2006, has been one of the great success stories of the IRFU and Indonesia has proven that it can compete on the international stage. The IRFU has completed four years of international competition as a National team, having played 10 full international Test Matches over that period against Cambodia (3), Lao (3), Brunei (2), Guam and Iran. Indonesian National Team players have had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia, Brunei and the Philippines, as well as play at home, as the IRFU hosted an international tournament known as the HSBC A5N Regional Tournament in 2008. Indonesia currently has a proud record of 7 wins from 10 Tests.

The IRFU expanded its Rugby Development program in May 2007 by employing a Rugby Development Officer (RDO), whose role was to manage the continued development of Rugby within Indonesia. The first RDO, David Nye was employed through the Australian Government’s “Volunteering for International Development” (VIDA) program. In March 2009, he was replaced by Sam Refshauge, who was supplied by another Australian Government program called “Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development” (AYAD), an AusAID Initiative which supports skilled young Australians who want to live, work and make a difference in the Asia Pacific region.

Rugby within Indonesia has rapidly expanded since May 2004, during which time there has been a marked growth in Indonesian player numbers and also the expansion of new and existing Rugby Clubs throughout Indonesia. Currently there are 16 Rugby Clubs active within the Indonesian archipelago.

In August 2007, the IRFU introduced Rugby into Indonesian Schools and Universities in Jakarta region and also in Bali. David Nye approached Schools and Universities to gauge interest and also to raise Rugby awareness within the various student communities. At this time Rugby was only played at the Jakarta International School (JIS) and the British International School (BIS). In early 2009, the IRFU hosted the first ever Schools Rugby Tournament in which 4 schools participated – JIS, BIS, Sekolah Pelita Harapan and Darunnajah Pondok Pesantren. Interest in Rugby by schools really started to take hold in mid-2009, such that the recent 2010 IRFU Indonesian Schools Rugby 7’s Tournament featured 11 schools participating, an almost threefold increase on 2009.

The IRFU was granted Associate Membership of the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) in September 2004 and then Full Membership in November 2005 following progress made by the Union to develop Rugby. In the years that followed the IRFU gained repute amongst fellow ARFU nations and since 2008 the Union has had a representative, Bill Ryan on the ARFU Executive Council. The successful transition to a sport dominated by Indonesian participation coupled with a willingness to compete in international competition resulted in the IRFU gaining Associate Membership of the International Rugby Board (IRB) in May 2008, which was a huge step forwards for Indonesian Rugby. In late November 2009, Indonesia was invited along with 116 other Rugby nations to send a representative to the IRB’s 9th General Assembly in Dublin, Ireland. IRFU Chairman, Stephen Barber attended this Assembly on behalf of the Union.


Since 2004, the IRFU has developed and managed Rugby in Indonesia, which seen a transformation from an expatriate domain for the 30 years prior to a sport dominated by Indonesian players, including many school age male and female players who previously had had no exposure to Rugby.

The flagship of any national sporting organisation is its National Team and following the establishment of the Rhinos in 2006 it was clearly evident to the IRFU Board of Directors that the long term development and sustainability of Rugby in Indonesia and the international success of the Rhinos required the implementation of the “Rugby Goes to School” program in August 2007 to ensure the grassroots development of the sport. Coupled with schools development is the emergence of new Rugby clubs and the expansion of existing clubs throughout Indonesia, so as to allow players to continue playing and being involved with the sport throughout their lives.

Rugby within Indonesia

Prior to the establishment of the IRFU in May 2004, several Rugby clubs existed in Indonesia catering only for senior players. The number of Rugby clubs has increased dramatically since the IRFU’s foundation, as has the participation of Indonesian players, coaches and match officials.

Currently, there are 16 Senior Rugby Teams within Indonesia.

  • Jakarta Bantengs (Jakarta) – 92% Indonesian, 8% expatriate
  • ISCI Komodos (Banten) – 100% expatriate
  • JJRG Samurai (Banten) – 100% Japanese expatriate
  • Jago Dulu (Jakarta) – 100% expatriate
  • Bandung Rams (West Java) – 80% Indonesian, 20% PNG expatriate
  • Bandung Ewes (West Java) – 75% Indonesian, 25% expatriate
  • Sengata Hornbills (East Kalimantan) – 90% Indonesian, 10% expatriate
  • Balikpapan Bears (East Kalimantan) – 80% Indonesian, 20% expatriate
  • Gosowong (North Maluku) – 100% Indonesian
  • Mantano Miners (SE Sulawesi) – 90% Indonesian, 10% expatriate
  • Banti Menagas (Papua) – 100% Indonesian
  • Kotekas (Papua) – 100% Indonesian
  • Sumbawa Nagas (West Nusa Tenggara)– 100% expatriate
  • Sumbawa Development (West Nusa Tenggara) – 100% Indonesian
  • Bali Stiff Chillis (Bali) – 20% Indonesian, 80% expatriate
  • Bali Red Chillis (Bali) – 100% Indonesian

There has been a rapid growth of new Rugby clubs with 9 of the clubs listed on the previous page being established in the last 3 years. All Indonesian Rugby clubs are self-sufficient, relying on sponsors and player subscriptions for funding.

Prior to the foundation of the IRFU, there were only two annual Rugby tournaments in Indonesia, namely the Jakarta 10’s (organised by the ISCI Rugby Club), which is held every May and the Bali 10’s (previously organised by a group of Rugby friends) played every October. The Jakarta 10’s has served as the Indonesian National Championships since 2005.

Following the tragic death of an expatriate named Willy Ellison in June 2004, the IRFU founded an annual Rugby 15’s match to remember Willy, who had been a player for the ISCI Club during his time in Indonesia. The first Willy Ellison Memorial Cup match was played at the KPC Mine, Sengata, East Kalimantan in late 2004 between the Sangatta Saracens and ISCI Jakarta. Similar matches were played in 2005 and 2006, before this match was moved to Balikpapan in 2007, where it continues as an annual event.

The Sengata Rugby 10’s tournament was first played in March 2008. This tournament saw the introduction of what became known as the ‘Sengata Rule’ meaning that at least 8 out of 10 players on the field must be Indonesian Nationals at all times. Teams from Balikpapan, Sengata, Jakarta, Bali and Gosowong competed in this tournament.
August 2008, saw the establishment of a similar tournament in Sanur, Bali. This tournament involved teams from Sengata, Gosowong, Jakarta Bantengs, Bandung Rams, Banti Menagas, Kotekas and Bali Development team. The Bandung Ewes Women’s development team also competed in a women’s touch Rugby competition.

The IRFU successfully ran the annual Bali 10’s Tournament in 2007-08. Both of these tournaments attracted all the club teams from within Indonesia as well as club teams from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. The IRFU decided to hand over the management and running of this tournament to the Bali Rugby Club in 2009.
Note – Rugby 10’s is a non-IRB approved format of Rugby, although it is commonly played throughout SE Asia, as it involves a bit more forward play like Rugby 15’s. Rugby 10’s adopts the rules of Rugby 7’s and likewise it is played over 7-minute halves.

In February 2008, the inaugural Jakarta XV’s Rugby Series was launched. This was a significant achievement for Indonesian Rugby as it saw four (4) club teams, namely the Jakarta Bantengs, ISCI Komodos, JJRG Samurai and the Bandung Rams competing in a round robin tournament held over two rounds. This tournament was significant for the IRFU as it was one of the requirements that allowed the Union to gain Associate Membership of the IRB. This tournament is now an official part of the annual Indonesian Rugby calendar, played each year from February through until late April. In 2010 this tournament will hopefully expand to include a fifth Rugby club.

The 2010 Jakarta XV’s Series will serve as a great competition to allow Rhinos’ Selectors to gain a great insight into the quality of players available for selection in the National Squad. This squad will be supplemented by players from outside Jakarta, who will play in a series of selection trials planned for Bali and Balikpapan in mid-May.


Indonesian National Mens 15’s Team – Rhinos

In early 2006 the IRFU was invited to send a National Team to the newly formed Asian Division 6 Championship – this tournament was organised by the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) and sanctioned by the IRB. The IRFU decided to send a team to this tournament on the basis that participation in international competition would help create more exposure for Rugby in Indonesia. Players were selected from all over Indonesia and also included a few Indonesian Nationals based overseas. The Indonesian National Team was named the “Rhinos” as this is animal featured in the IRFU’s logo and it symbolised ‘strength and power’ which are attributes associated with Rugby.

Despite losing its first up match against Cambodia, the Rhinos went onto secure consecutive victories over Lao and Brunei to finish Runners-up in the inaugural Asian Division 6 Championships, which was won by Cambodia.

Following on from the success of this initial tournament, ARFU decided that the same competition would be played July 2007 in Brunei. The Rhinos performed admirably in this tournament securing wins against Lao, Cambodia and Brunei to secure the 2007 Asian Division 6 Championships undefeated. This was a fantastic effort away from home, especially given that Indonesian teams in most other sports generally fail to deliver.

Photo 4 – Rhinos celebrate as the 2007 Asian Division 6 Champions joined by the Indonesian Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam (holding trophy)
Based on the success of the Rugby tournaments throughout Asia, including the Asian Division 6 Championships in 2006-07, ARFU’s Member Council decided to seek major sponsorship in order to setup a Rugby tournament that would involve all the Rugby-playing nations of Asia. This tournament was to become known as the HSBC Asian 5 Nations (A5N) Tournament, which comprised of a premier division of the Top 5 Rugby nations in Asia, namely Japan, Korea, Hong
Kong, Kazakhstan and Arabian Gulf, as well as Division 1 (next four teams), Division 2 (4 teams) and Regional Tournaments (3 teams in each of these). In its first year, the A5N Tournament was to be played on a promotion and relegation basis for the Top 5, Division 1 and Division 2.

In late 2007, Indonesia was selected by ARFU to host the 2008 HSBC A5N Regional Tournament, which was played at the University of Pelita Harapan (UPH) Stadium, located in the Karawaci Estate, West Jakarta. This tournament started with Lao defeating Cambodia 33-0, before the Rhinos went onto secure victory against Lao (23-11) and then comprehensively out-classing Cambodia (55-3) to win a second international Rugby title for Indonesia. Rhinos’ players came from Papua, Halmahera, East Kalimantan, Bali, Bandung and Jakarta. The victorious team also included a few expatriates and some Indonesian Nationals who came from as far away as England and Dubai.

Last year the Rhinos were promoted to the newly formed 2009 HSBC A5N Division 3 Tournament which was played in Manila, the Philippines. This tournament included National Teams from Indonesia, the Philippines, Iran and Guam. Despite trying their best in their first match against Guam, the Rhinos struggled against a much larger team going down and then faced a formidable foe in Iran. The Iranians proved too big and strong for the Rhinos running out comprehensive winners. This tournament was a learning experience not just for the Rhinos but the entire IRFU Board, who realised that schools and youth Rugby development was essential in Indonesia to ensure a steady flow of younger and fitter players into future Rhinos’ teams.

In late 2009, the IRFU successfully bid to host the 2010 HSBC A5N Division 3 Tournament which will see the Rhinos taking on Pakistan (relegated from Division 2 in 2009), Iran and Guam. This tournament will be played June 9-12 at the UPH Stadium, Karawaci Estate. A new-look Rhinos, which will hopefully include several younger players from the school boy ranks, will be looking to make amends for 2009 in front of the ‘home crowd’. Matches are scheduled for Wednesday June 9 – Iran vs. Guam and Indonesia vs. Pakistan – and Saturday June 12 – Finals playoffs.

Indonesian National Mens 7’s Team – Harimau

Rugby 7’s, which is an abbreviated form of the more traditional 15-a-side Rugby is typically played over weekend competitions and also at multisport events such as the South East Asian Games in 2005 as an exhibition sport and in 2007 as an official sport. The IRFU sent a team to the 2005 SEAG played in Manila, the Philippines.

Given that the IRFU focused on the more traditional game of 15’s in 2006-07, it was not until October 2008 that the Union was invited to send a 7’s team to the 2008 Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) Rugby 7’s where the team successfully won the Bowl Trophy.

In late 2009, Indonesia was invited to send a Rugby 7’s team to an IRB-sanctioned tournament called the Borneo 7’s in Kota-Kinabalu, Malaysia, prior to the team traveling to the SCC Rugby 7’s the following week. Before departing for the Borneo 7’s the team was named the “Harimau” as this animal known as a tiger represents the dynamic and stealth-like qualities commonly associated with Rugby 7’s. The 2009 Harimau came up against semi-professional teams from Japan, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia in both of these competitions and despite being outclassed the team impressed with their never-say-die attitude.

Rugby 7’s is fast and dynamic form of the sport which entertains spectators all over Asia and throughout the World at tournaments such as the Hong 7’s and the IRB Rugby World Cup 7’s. On October 9, 2009 the IOC voted unanimously (91% vote) to include Rugby 7’s for males and females in the sports program of the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. Rugby 7’s was an exhibition sport at the 2005 South East Asian Games (SEAG) – Indonesia participated in this tournament. Although Rugby 7’s was included in the official sports program at the 2007 SEAG, it was not included at the 2009 SEAG.

In 2010, the IRFU plans to lobby KONI to have Rugby 7’s reinstated in the sports program for 2011 SEAG which are to be hosted by Indonesia. All SE Asian Nations (except Vietnam and Myanmar) have National Rugby 7’s Teams.

Indonesian National Women’s 7’s Team

In 2010, the IRFU is planning to commence a women’s Rugby 7’s program and it plans to play exhibition matches during the 2010 HSBC A5N Division 3 Tournament from June 9-12, to expose Women’s Rugby 7’s to Indonesia.

The IRFU is encouraging girls and women to play Rugby 7’s as this fits in with the IRB’s goal of increasing female participation on the sport, plus Women’s Rugby 7’s has also been included in the 2016-20 Olympic Games.

At last year’s Bali 10’s Tournament there was a women’s competition included in the program for the first time. Despite being a Rugby 10’s Tournament, the skills learnt and the involvement in a competition augers well for the future of Women’s Rugby 7’s in Indonesia.