“It’s a perception problem but one we have fixed through education.”
Those were the words of former national captain and coach Boon Hoon Chee who said how explaining rugby to Malaysians made them realise it is a sport for gentlemen.
The sport has now become an acceptable activity for the whole family.
“People used to think rugby was for barbarians as all they noticed were the tackles,” said Boon, former president of Cobra Rugby Club in Petaling Jaya.
“Yes, the tackles can be brutal – but they are fair. People don’t realise rugby also teaches you discipline, camaraderie, watching your teammates back, and following the rules.
“That’s why unlike other sports, you don’t see players arguing or harassing the referee when decisions go against them.”
He added players and coaches don’t even use foul language (during matches) to show displeasure.
Having lost its “bad reputation” via educating the masses about the finer aspects of the sport, Boon and Cobra Rugby Club are hoping to do the same for mixed martial arts (MMA). As such, the club graciously agreed to host Fight For Change 2019 on Nov 23.
Fight For Change 2019 will see Twentytwo13 co-founder and editor Haresh Deol take on professional fighter Shareh ‘The Jeneral’ Nasrullah in a caged fight.
Co-organised by Twentytwo13 and the Malaysia Mixed Martial Arts Association (MASMMAA), the event is supported by the National Press Club of Malaysia (NPC). Proceeds from the sale of tickets will be channelled to NPC’s Journalist Welfare Fund and MASMMAA’s youth development programmes.
“MASMAAA’s president (Rashid Salleh) is a Cobra man. He played rugby for us for many years and when he pitched the idea of us hosting Fight For Change 2019, I thought it was a brilliant idea,” said Boon.
“Just like how we educated people about rugby, Fight For Change 2019 is trying to change the way people view MMA.”
“Rashid told me the youngsters who pick up MMA are not allowed to strike the face and body of their opponents. The important part is to learn the holding (grappling) moves and defending yourself.”
He added this is similar to rugby coaching.
“The younger ones play touch rugby and only when they get older and bigger, is tackling allowed,” said Boon.