Nigeria’s National Rugby Team captain, Onoru Oyia Jatto, has said that the banned of Nigeria by African rugby body over the dissolution of the board of Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF) by the Nigeria’s government if it is upheld by the World body would kill the growth of the sport in the country.
Jatto, who stated this while speaking to newsmen during the rugby’s players union protest at the National Stadium in Lagos, yesterday, appealed to the minister of youth and sports development, Mr Sunday Dare, to reverse the dissolution of the NRFF board within 48-hours.
He said the constitution of the NRFF which was ratified at the Extraordinary General Meeting held in Lagos March 3, 2018, has been formally approved by the Rugby Africa and World Rugby, noting that the world body frowns at any interference from government agencies.
He added that the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) represented by its Secretary-General specifically stipulates the time and modalities for the elections for a new board of the NRFF which must be held by a duly constituted AGM.
“The Rugby Africa and the international body frown at any interference by any government agencies in sports, as soon as the news broke they told us that we will be suspended. There is nobody in the Nigeria Rugby federation that will gain from the ban, so it makes no sense for us to write to them to ban us.
“But we know if the ban is upheld it will kill Nigerian rugby. We are all devastated by the news because we have passion for the game.
“We have written as a players union and we have handed it over to the people we know that can reach the minister, we are hopeful that by Friday this can be overturned. We struggle and fight every year just to make the game known because it’s like we take 10 steps forward and we take 50 backwards every time we are banned.
“We want Nigeria to be now as a force in the Rugby world. So, we are pleading for this to be overturned. Nigeria has been banned twice previously which was a terrible experience for us and we don’t want to go back that way again,“ he said.
The suspension implies that Nigeria’s rugby national team (Black Stallions) will not participate in the 2023 Rugby World Cup African qualifier scheduled for Burkina Faso next month.
The suspension also affects the women national team earlier billed to feature in their first international championship this year in Burkina Faso.