Mongolia is a country rich in heritage, shaped by centuries of complex cultural influences. As such, it’s a significant challenge for any western sport to claim the limelight from the nation’s old nomadic pastimes.
But at the Chingisiin Huree camp south of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, amidst the yurts where bone-breaking and horseback archery remain popular activities, one man is on a mission to bring rugby to Mongolia. G.Khosbayar grew up like many Mongolian boys with athletic ambitions thinking his future was as a wrestler. But a series of injuries led him to see rugby as a potential alternative to the country’s most popular sport.
Ten years on from Mongolia’s first competitive game, there’s been some progress. But in this part of the world the obstacles to growth lie as much with the landscape as the on-field challenges.
“The main key for success in any sport is training and it’s hard to do proper training in Mongolia where there is a six-month-long winter,” G.Khosbayar says.
Despite the challenging climate, rugby is beginning to prosper in Mongolia. Right now there (are) eight male clubs, five female clubs, with over 300 athletes competing. Everyday information on media or social media platforms is increasing.
An annual “snow rugby” tournament attracts the country’s best players every March. This year the event was helped along by an early spring which boosted turnout. (CNN)