Add Bookmark   Advertising Information   Contact Us  

Articles Home - Rugby in the Dominican Republic
According to Wellington Pepen, Treasurer of the Dominican Rugby Federation, rugby’s unfortunate decline was due in part to the fact that rugby isn’t a traditional sport in the DR “Throughout the 1980s [we] had the support of the universities to include the sport as part of the curriculum and there was the possibility of incentives where players would have discounts on inscription to universities if they played the sport. The sport also had the support of the British and French embassies, which helped with coaches, funding and logistics, but unfortunately that doesn’t exist anymore.”

Although interest in rugby had waned during the early and mid-1990s, in 1997 Dominican rugby began to experience a revival. From 1997 to 2000 the DR was represented in Trinidad and Tobago’s Rugby Sevens Tournament and the country has continuously hosted teams from North America, South America, Europe and the Caribbean. In 2000, the future members of FEDORUGBY decided that the growth of the sport in the DR was slow and the culture of the sport needed to be revived. In addition, the number of players was decreasing more and more and it is from this realization that the Dominican Rugby Federation was born in 2004, bringing together all the rugby players and squads under the guidance of one umbrella organization. FEDORUGBY has developed relationships with teams from Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent, Bermuda, Martinique and Guadeloupe, Antigua, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Mexico, Dominica, Puerto Rico and the United States.

In 2005 Jose Bautista and Molly Carina Degler from the US were among the presenters at the first rugby seminar held at the UASD. Then in 2005 the DR took part in the Sevens tournament in Barbados and in 2006 a younger team went to Barbados to compete in the tournament. In 2006 the DR was host to the Pegasus from Miami and previously the Bruc team from Guadeloupe visited the DR. On 19 October 2007 the DR hosted team BVI from the British Virgin Islands.

FEDORUGBY has been fighting for recognition from the Dominican Olympic Committee, but unfortunately this has yet to be achieved. The relationships with the Dominican Olympic Committee and SEDEFIR are positive, but financial help has not been possible. Regardless of strong local support, the DR is building support outside of the country. FEDORUGBY is part of NAWIRA (North American and West Indies Association) and WIRU (West Indies Rugby Union). The DR competes in the principal tournament organized by the IRB/NAWIRA, which will be held in Nassau, Bahamas this year and in December the Dominican team will head to Trinidad to once again take part in the Sevens Tournament.

There are nine rugby clubs in Santo Domingo alone: the Santo Domingo Rugby Club, Los Minas, Diablitos de Charlie, UASD, UNPHU, Caribe, Piranas, Osos and Red Dragon. San Pedro de Macoris has a team at the UCE and there are teams at the Escuela Central Romana and Liceo Frances. Constanza has Los Caciques and Guaraguao.
The DR has also taken strides to consolidate itself as a team with Jose Bautista as the only official in the DR certified by the IRB and Alejandro Mejia as the DR’s only certified coach.

Rugby’s future
As a goal, FEDORUGBY wants to be recognized by the Dominican Olympic Committee with the aim of playing in the next Pan American Games in Mexico. FEDORUGBY would also like to be recognized by the International Rugby Board and to rebuild its relationships with the country’s universities as a way of strengthening the sport and increasing player numbers. The challenges that face the sport are the fact that FEDORUGBY is not recognized by the Olympic Committee, and that public economic support is minimal. There is also a deficiency in playing fields, since all are occupied by soccer players and there aren’t enough trainers and coaches. Equipment is also minimal and the greatest difficulty could be finding and recruiting new players.

The government unfortunately has not provided the necessary support for rugby’s development in the country. In 2003 rugby was granted the honor of taking part as a delegation during the National Games and FEDORUGBY is hoping this will happen again. The funds for rugby in the DR are all private, contributed by the same players, and the Federation takes care of covering costs for activities and tournaments that are held. They also aim to increase their participation in national and international competitions and to set an example to the community.

FEDORUGBY’s initial successes include reigniting the engine that drives the sport’s development in the country. There has also been an increase in national and international participation with the DR traveling and hosting international competitions. The country continues to develop relationships in the country and around the Caribbean, reducing the challenges that the sport is facing to mere speed bumps on the road to success.

According to Pepen, the possibility does exist that with time Dominicans could come to accept rugby’s potential as a team sport, due to the sportsmanship and camaraderie that characterizes the sport. More work needs to be done to raise people’s awareness about the sport. Unlike many of the DR’s minority interest sports, rugby has built a strong foundation both within and beyond the DR. This is the key difference of the sport in comparison to cricket, football, soccer and other minority interest sports. The sport has the advantage that it has been played at a higher level since the 1970s and with its re-emergence in 2000 there are no limits to where the sport can go. In 2007 the DR was absent from the Rugby World Cup, but the idea of the country playing in the next Rugby World Cup in 2011 is not so far-fetched. Who knows, by the time the 2015 World Cup comes around the DR could be challenging Argentina as one of the region’s best teams.
<-- Previous Page  
Daily News Archive  Message Board Archive

The contents of this webpage are copyright 1996-2015.  DR1. All Rights Reserved.