The Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) conducted National Trials at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday 10 September 2016 to assess the Rugby talent in Ghana and to try out different combinations.
In total 57 men and 13 women took part in the trials conducted by the technical team under directive and direction of Herbert Mensah, President of the GRFU, consisting of Simba Mangena (Head Coach of Conquerors SC), Amuzuloh Salim (Head Coach of Cosmos Buffalos RFC and Technical Director of GARA) and Clement Dennis (Head Coach of Griffons Empire SC).
The men’s 15s trials consisted of two matches played in four quarters of 20 minutes each with changes made by the technical team after every quarter to test out players in different positions and in different teams.
Coaches, players and administrators only had praise for the event and all were unanimous that this first ever Rugby trials requested by the President, Herbert Mensah, was not only an eye opener but that it indeed laid the foundation of building Rugby to new heights in Ghana.
According to Mensah’s head of the technical team, Simba Mangena, national duty is a rare privilege and as such should be awarded to the players who want it most.
He said that the national Rugby team trials showcased the best local talent available at the moment and that the trials provided the technical bench with an opportunity to have a good look at the players. pre-season form and conditioning.
Mangena continued to say that, “After a sloppy first assignment against Togo a fortnight ago, we decided to cast our net wider and give everyone the opportunity to fight for recognition.The boys really went hammer and tongue and set up a nail-biting encounter in the final trial match.
I was very pleased to see new faces giving a good account of themselves and will be delighted to blend them into the setup. We have a very hectic internationals season ahead of us and healthy competition for places in the starting XV will ensure that we have the best squads available to do our country proud.”
Amuzuloh Salim, Head Coach of Cosmos Buffaloes RFC and part of the national technical team, said that the national Rugby trials was very successful in that all the players who participated showed determination and the ability give their everything for Rugby and for Ghana.
Clement Dennis, Head Coach of Griffons Empire SC and Technical Director of the CentWest Regional Association, said that the national Rugby trials was a great opportunity for players from various clubs and regions In the country to showcase their skills and abilities.
“We were able to try the players in different positions and the Rugby trials also gave the technical team the opportunity to see how the players responded to pressure. It was a great time and we are looking forward to have one more session this weekend before we depart to Togo for the return leg,” he said.
Michael Ako Wilson, captain of the men’s 15s national team, the Ghana Eagles, said that he believes the coaches discovered new talent that can be developed as valuable part of Ghana Rugby.
“We as players are ready to go the extra mile with Herbert Mensah to put Ghana on the international stage of world Rugby,” Wilson said.
Kukua Aggrey, who is leading the development of women’s rugby in Ghana with Rafatu Inusah, said that the trials was significant in that it highlighted various aspects that needed improvement such as teamwork and kicking skills. She thanked the President, Herbert Mensah, for the initiative and expressed the hope that it will be followed by many more.
Steve Noi, GRFU Board Member and Tournament Commissioner, said that this was the first ever national trials in Ghana rugby and an indication of the professionalism and importance attached to the growth of Rugby in Ghana.
“It was an initiative from the President who has always talked about professionalism and competitions at higher levels in working towards recognition by World Rugby. The improvement of the standard of players was key and that was recognised on Saturday,” he said.
Mr Herbert Mensah, President of the GRFU, said that he was satisfied that the national Rugby trials met with his expectations, but that a lot more will be needed to chase and fulfill the dream of qualifying Ghana Rugby to take part in a World Rugby World Cup tournament.
“Countries such as Kenya and Argentina achieved ‘miracles’ through focus on and dedication to their dream of entering the world stage of Rugby, and it is not impossible for Ghana Rugby to do the same. The biggest stumbling block, namely funding, will however have to be overcome, but the national Rugby trials clearly showed that Ghana has the players with the passion and will to excel.” he said.
Ghana Rugby will be facing Togo in a return match on the 24th of September 2016 in Lome, Togo after Ghana beat the visitors by a narrow margin of 10 to 5 in their previous encounter in Accra.