Daniel Nugroho on his “Rugby Journey in Australia”

For most Indonesians, Rugby may not be a popular sport just yet. However, this is not the case for Daniel Nugroho. Rugby has captured his interest since he was 15 years old and eventually brought him to spend 2 years in Australia playing for the University of Queensland Rugby Football Club (UQRFC) in Brisbane.

To date, Rugby in Indonesia has seen growth in popularity and growth among Indonesian players. There is currently 16 active Rugby Clubs across Indonesia. The Indonesian Rugby Football Union (IRFU) established in 2004, changed the trend for Rugby in Indonesia, from a sport that is dominated by expats to a sport that is popular among Indonesian youth. More details can be seen here

GoLive Indonesia caught up with Daniel Nugroho and asked him to share his experiences and memories on playing Rugby in Brisbane, and what this experience meant for his personal development and rugby in Indonesia. 

Daniel’s achievement in Indonesian Rugby can be seen here. Daniel is currently playing for Jakarta Komodo Club. 

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“Rugby Journey in Australia”  by Daniel Nugroho

Growing up in Indonesia, where “rugby” is an unfamiliar word, makes it sounds like an extraordinary sport. 80% of the people that I’ve met thought that it was an American Football, a sport that is played using an oval shaped ball and pads. Well, it is not.

I started playing rugby back in 2004 when I was 15 years old in Jakarta. Then I got really caught up, that I finally made it to the national team in 2006. After gaining more experiences by playing in both local and international matches, I was finally got selected to become the national team captain in 2012.

After 8 years of experience and trusted as the national team captain; I felt like I had achieved a target. However, I still wanted to improve. I wanted to play at the higher level, therefore I decided to quit my job and move to Brisbane, Australia to join the local rugby club.

Things in Brisbane started off just right. As soon as I got there, I joined the University of Queensland Rugby Football Club (UQRFC), one of the most successful Brisbane rugby clubs that has won 24 First Grade Premierships since 1911. I could say that I was one of the very few lucky Indonesian lads who could join the team and play rugby in Australia.

A match between UQRFC vs GPS Rugby Club, at UQ Rugby Field

A match between UQRFC vs GPS Rugby Club, at UQ Rugby Field

Training and preparation was taken more seriously in Australia. Every player was required to join a pre-season fitness training to be considered for the grade team selection. They never had players’ shortage issue, so every individual needs to put their commitment on and off the field to compete with one another for a place.

Pre-season training and fitness was intended to filter players, then a pre-season match was conducted between team-mates to determine the grade placement. Players who weren’t well prepared would start the season in the lower grade.

Tunnel entrance before the Grand Final match at Ballymore Stadium; UQRFC 4th grade line up for the Grand Final.

Tunnel entrance before the Grand Final match at Ballymore Stadium; UQRFC 4th grade line up for the Grand Final.

There are 7 men’s senior teams in University of Queensland Rugby Football Club (UQRFC): one premier team, and followed by the other six teams from the 1st to 6th grade. I started playing with the 6th grade when I first joined UQRFC at the end of the 2012 season. It was a great opportunity to get a feel of the game. When the next season began, I managed to climb up and play for the 4th grade. Our team hit the Grand Final, but unfortunately we came second as runner-up. After all, it was a massive experience for me, to be able to scored 5 tries during the season.

Rugby 3

UQRFC 4th grade team after winning the semifinal game.

Here’s some of the valuable insights and unforgettable moments that I’d like to share:

  • Pre-season training. Everyone agreed, the harder you train, the easier you fight. The competition starts early between teammates. The more you train the more chances you get to be selected for the higher grades. So this motivates the players to give their best shot.
  • Progress and Statistic. Beside the coach who track and analyses your progress in every training, the tournament committee also give some valuable statistic of the teams and players performance. A weekly updated competition standings, try scorer and point scorer are recorded to motivate players to evaluate and improve their performance.
  • Expected to always be ready. The game isn’t finish after 80 minutes. We always have to be ready as a back up players for the upper grade team. At least to support.
Christmas party with UQRFC rugby teammates.

Christmas party with UQRFC rugby teammate

  • Playing at a historical stadium. It was such an honour to be able to play in a big stadium. Our team went to the grand final and got a privilege to play at the Ballymore stadium, where Wallabies and other national teams used to play. On a personal note, it was an amazing experience, a personal milestone that I would always remember.
  • Career related. Due to my background that’s related to rugby, I got a chance to work in two sports teamwear companies: Tsunami Sportswear and Canterbury. Those prominent companies offered me a job to design rugby clubs’ jersey and other marketing materials. I was very grateful for this experience as it combines two things that I enjoy so much: design and rugby.
With USA’s Rugby Sevens star, Carlin Isles at Gold Coast 7s.

With USA’s Rugby Sevens star, Carlin Isles at Gold Coast 7s.

  • Volunteering in International Event. Not only being able to watch a live international rugby games, I was also able to participate in Gold Coast Rugby 7s as a volunteer. That was once-in-a-lifetime experience where I could watch great rugby games from the sideline (for free as a volunteer), met rugby sevens superstars, and also made a couple of good friends.

To sum up, I’d say that two year-long experience of playing rugby in Australia has really provided me with conducive and positive influence.

Photos courtesy of Daniel Nugroho

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