"Star" of Uzbek rugby
Looking through the tournament tables of the championships of Russia of different times, I was surprised to find that the bronze medalist of 1994 and the silver of 1995 was the West-Star team. It turned out that this is the very legendary Tashkent team that moved to Kaliningrad in the early nineties. This crucial event in the history of Uzbek rugby and its modern realities was discussed with the Secretary General of the Federation of Uzbekistan Jalilov Kahramon Khakimovich.
Can Stars move to Russia be called the final head of Soviet rugby in Uzbekistan?
– And there is. The process began in 1991, and by the mid-nineties, due to lack of funding, almost all clubs had ceased to exist.
How many teams were based in Uzbekistan at that time?
– In addition to Stars, these are Tashkent Polytechnic, Lokomotiv, Start, Spartak, Stroitel and SKA Air Force, Fergana Neftyanik and Fakel, Shavat from Urgench and Tselinnik from Gagarin.
Solid economy. Not every republic could boast so many teams of masters …
– You know, it’s not about the number of clubs. The fact is that by that time a powerful youth base had been created – our teams participated in the Golden Oval in all age categories. The “Cosmonaut Dzhanibekov Cup” was regularly held, in which the strongest clubs of the Soviet Union took part. In short, Uzbek rugby was booming.
And on top of the “Star”!
– Yes, our “Star”. This truly legendary team. It was formed in 1976, as the Tashkent “Cosmos”, and received the name “Star” three years later. Over its nearly twenty-year history, the team has come a long way: the bronze and silver medallist of the USSR Armed Forces championship, the winner of the USSR youth championship, fourth place in the Union Championship and the Cup semi-finals.
"Star" Tashkent, 1992. One of the latest photos of the team in his hometown (C) archive of O.V. Fuchs
I think that the “bronze” and “silver” of the championships of Russia can be safely added to this list. And with what or with whom did the path of the oval ball begin in Uzbekistan?
– It all started in 1968 with TashPI. Polytechnic student Valera Belov, a boxer, met with Leningrad rugby players at a student camp. Upon his return to Tashkent, he turned to the trade union committee and party committee with a proposal to develop rugby. He was sent to a coaching seminar and soon the first rugby section began to work in Uzbekistan, and after some time the TashPI team entered the first league qualifiers.
Wait, and Vali Tajiev?
– Vali was studying at LenSANGIK at that time, where he played rugby. After studying, he returned to Ferghana and began looking for contacts of rugby players in Uzbekistan. As a result, TashPI and Tajiev found each other and … Vali was just included in the very team of TashPI, which was fighting for the right to play in the First League of the USSR. But, of course, Vali is one of the fathers of Uzbek rugby.
Let’s go back to the nineties. How did Uzbek rugby live after the closure of all clubs and the move of Zvezda to Russia?
– The revival began in 2001 with the creation of the Tashkent Rugby Federation. By 2002, in addition to the capital, teams appeared in Jizzakh, Yangier, Turakurgan, Chirchik and Samarkand.
I remember that in those years the “seven” women “made a noise”?
– Yes, it was. In general, the strategy was to draw attention to rugby as a whole through successes in the “seven”. And I must say our girls, who in 2002 for the first time played in the Asian Championships, in only four years reached the fourth place, losing to Hong Kong in the “bronze” final. Note in extra time! And two years later, in 2008, the women’s team of Uzbekistan won the “bronze” of the Asian championship and from that same season our men’s “seven” also began to play in the main Asian rugby-7 competition.
Uzbekistan women's rugby 7 team. year 2014. (C) Uzbekistan Rugby Federation
Did the strategy of revival through the Olympic kind of rugby come true?
– Fully. Since 2011, national championships in the classics among men’s teams have been held. Our men’s team regularly participates in the Asian Championship “Five Nations”, in the Asian championships youth teams perform both in the classics and in the “seven”. The country’s youth system is being rebuilt, new women’s and men’s teams are appearing, student and especially army rugby are developing.
The World Rugby report indicates that there are more than three thousand registered players in Uzbekistan. Tell us what competitions and clubs they perform in.
– To date, the Ministry of Defense – 8 men’s teams have their domestic championship; National Guard of Uzbekistan – 12 men’s teams; teams were created in the structures of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Security Service of our country. In rugby 7 we have thirteen men’s and six women’s groups. The country annually hosts national rugby championships-7 among adults, youth, cadets and youths, as well as the Uzbekistan rugby championship among men’s teams. Since 2020, we are launching two new “Student League” tournaments and the Uzbekistan Rugby-7 Championship among young people under 14 years old. And, of course, a large number of youth tournaments.
Is it possible to see the Uzbek players in foreign clubs?
– Of course, Abudvoris Karimov stands for Yenisei-STM, and Doston Arzykulov stands for Vladivostok Tigers.
The women’s national team of Uzbekistan is 46th in the world, and the men’s takes 89th place. Uzbekistan is a country of women’s rugby?
– Judging by the number of teams, Uzbekistan is the country of men’s rugby, and if you look at international results, then it is women’s. So this is a matter of taste and preference.
What are the immediate prospects for rugby in Uzbekistan?
– The very best. Last year, the Decree of the President of the country “On measures for the development of rugby in the Republic of Uzbekistan” and “Program of measures for the further comprehensive development of rugby in the republic in 2019-2022” came into force. In March of this year, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan No. 122 was adopted, which opens the way to the productive development of rugby in our country. It is only necessary to ensure that the main provisions of these documents are strictly implemented.
Kahramon Hakimovich, thank you so much. We wish the Uzbek rugby prosperity.
“And thank you for not forgetting us.” I wish you all health and happiness! Take care of yourself and loved ones in this difficult time for the world.