The Belait Pythons (green) in action against the Knights Rugby Football Club during the final of the second leg of the Brunei Rugby Sevens Series on Sunday. The Pythons won 26-19. The Brunei Rugby Football Union is now an associate member of the International Rugby Board. BT/ Yee Chun Leong
The Brunei Rugby Football Union (BRFU) has reached a new milestone.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) Council has granted associate member status to the BRFU during its interim meeting in Dublin on Wednesday.
BRFU, who has been a member of the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) since 2004, is a structured organisation administered by volunteers and it satisfies the IRB's associate membership criteria.
Ainol Razman Mohd Ghazaly, the BRFU director of International Relations, said that they had achieved their 10-year project of getting more local players involved in the sport from 2004.
They managed to fulfill it last year as the national team was made up of 100 per cent local players.
Ainol was delighted with the grant especially since it means the Sultanate now has a ranking in the world.
"It is good for Brunei. It will now take another year or two for IRB to recognise us as a full member. After that we will be able to get a development grant for us to move on to do better things," said Ainol in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.
"With this, we can focus on (improving our) performance because Brunei have got a ranking now. We can aim for where we want to be," he said.
"We are looking to work together with the JBS (Department of Youth and Sports) and hopefully get to compete more outside. It gives us more reason to go and improve our ranking," added Ainol.
"Winning or losing before this, we just stayed in the same spot. Now it is different. We can even go for the qualifying rounds of the World Cup," he continued.
Ainol also revealed the next steps to be taken for the BRFU and they are focused on the grassroots.
"Right now what is important for us is the sustainability of the game. We have spoken with the Ministry of Education and hopefully we can have the Brunei Rugby Schools Union set up early next year," said Ainol.
"It will help in the development of the sport in schools. It will be independent from the BRUF and we will guide them as well as supply coaches. Hopefully we can have the inter-school tournament next year too," he added.
A 'Get into Rugby' programme is also scheduled for February next year.
The BRFU is recognised by the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council and actively takes part in ARFU events including hosting the ARFU Council in 2008.
Meanwhile, the IRB welcomed the Persatuan Rugby Indonesia (PRUI) as a full member union after Council approved its application.
The PRUI became an associate member of the IRB in May 2009.
There are now 101 full members of the IRB and 119 in total.