According to the Arusha Times it was confirmed that Hughes Motors will act as the premier sponsor of Tanzanian Rugby for the coming year, thereby enabling the continuation of the game in Arusha and the growth of the sport in Tanzania. The sessions were held at the Arusha Hotel where a group of committed players and officials met to discuss the way forward for the sport, covering many issues from youth development to commercial sponsorship.
Short, medium and long term plans were laid out and a commitment to bringing the sport to a wider audience of Tanzanians was made, recognising the fact that many Tanzanians do not know what rugby is and do not realise that it is played in Tanzania. The Africa Manager for the IRB set goals for the Union to meet in order for the country to be recognised as a major actor in the international rugby scene, thus emulating Kenya where a high quality and successful domestic league has been established allowing our East African neighbour to make a big impact on the world Sevens (7-a-side) form of the game.
The Tanzania Union was encouraged to focus on increasing the participation of local players in the game and to building a league system in the greater Arusha area where the majority of active players are found, before expanding it nationwide. The strength and track record of the well-established Arusha Rhinos Rugby Club was recognised as being central to this revitalisation of the sport, and members of the Rhinos presented their plans for the coming season during which they will play 6 fixtures against opposition from Kenya as well as arranging matches between the local Arusha based players for training and development purposes.
The Arusha based club has, over the years, supported an ever expanding youth development programme that has taken rugby into secondary schools and local communities using Tanzanian volunteer coaches. The different age grades are now ready to begin playing regular competitive league matches which it is hoped will allow the players to develop their skills in match situation and will eventually provide a pathway for them to becoming full senior players who can participate in National and International fixtures.
A major component of these plans is finance, and this piece of the jigsaw was supplied by Hughes Motors who have committed to funding Tanzanian rugby in 2012. This will involve backing various Arusha regional fixtures and competitions such as the Arusha Super Sevens Series, whose 6 participant teams will hope to attract back their individual sponsors again this year, and will culminate in supporting a Tanzanian representative side participating in the Nairobi Safari Sevens event in November.
One of the key long-term goals of the Union is to work with the National Sports Council and other stakeholders to ensure that Tanzania becomes a full member of the International Rugby Board, thus opening up opportunities for players to play against international opposition. It will also mean that the National Team will become eligible for the qualifying stages of the Olympic Rugby competition that will be a new sport at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.