We want to become Asia’s top team by 2024: Rugby player Shikha Yadav

At the age of 23, Shikha Yadav has been playing rugby since 2017 and has participated in the Asian Championship 15 a side and the Asian Sevens Trophy, winning the silver medal. The forward is hoping for the team to get promoted to Asia Division 1 and participate in the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028. In this exclusive interview, Shikha Yadav speaks about her journey in the sport, experiences at major tournaments, important attributes of a forward player, overcoming challenges, future goals and more!

Q 1) You have been playing rugby since 2017, please tell us about your journey and who introduced you to the sport?

Before rugby I was into athletics, volleyball and I even trained professionally in javelin throw. I used to play all sports but in the 12th standard, my friend introduced me to rugby. Considering that I’m strong and athletic, rugby was the perfect sport for me. Pankaj Dagar, who is my friend, told me to join the Delhi Hurricane rugby team.

Q 2) Tell us about your experiences at the Asian Championship 15’s a side and the Asian Sevens Trophy? What did you learn from those events?

My debut was in 2019, just two years after I started playing the sport. Both the experiences were different as in the 15’s there are fifteen players per team on the field compared to the 7’s trophy where they had a total of 14 players on the rugby field (7 each side). In 2019 and 2022 I played in the Asian Sevens Trophy, in 2019 our team was good but quite inexperienced as we took this confidence into the 2022 tournament. Although we lost the 2022 Asian Sevens trophy final to Singapore we took a lot of positives out of the tournament.

Q 3) As a rugby player who plays in the forward position, what are the most important attributes that are required for a player in your position?

In rugby if you are a forward then you need to be fast, agile and strong. You need to be smart when tackling as a forwards job is to take the team forward with some fluidity.

Also read: Everything that I have done in rugby is to represent India: Shahnawaz

Q 4) What are some of the biggest challenges in your rugby career and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges that I faced was in 2021 when Covid had eased out a little bit and the restrictions had been lifted to a certain extent. We had a training session at the Delhi Hurricanes Club which was our first training after lockdown. In that session I broke the metatarsal joint of my left index finger. When I went to treat the injury it took a very long time and before surgery I had to take a Covid Test which came back as positive. I was asymptomatic but they said that the surgery cannot be performed before I recover from Covid. It was very frustrating because they didn’t tell me earlier and I had been in direct contact with my friends and family.

Covid wasn’t that big a problem; the problem was that my joint was still dislocated and it took 1 month to just get the surgery done because the restrictions had started to come back. When we went to do the surgery in a private hospital they told me that they joint will stay stiff and we cannot guarantee that the finger will move properly after surgery. In any sport grip is very important and that incident took a toll on me because it wasn’t a big injury to start with and because of Covid things got messed up. Then it was announced that the India camp would start in a month and the doctor had told me that it would take two months to recover from the surgery. Despite the injury I continued to work out at home and even though the doctor said it would take two months, I was back on the field after 15-20 days. I made myself psychologically strong because I wanted to play and I didn’t want to give up.

Q 5) What is your message to all the girls who wish to take up rugby professionally in the future?

Whichever field you are in, just be consistent. rugby is a growing sport in India and Rugby India needs more people to be interested in the sport. The thing about rugby is that it is a team game and it teaches you to survive with others. It teaches you lessons of living in a society. Rugby teaches you a lot about life and it teaches you to never lose hope.

Q 6) What are your future goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

Currently we play in Asia Division 2 and we want to get promoted to Asia Division 1. It is the goal of all of us and the federation that we have become the top team in Asia by 2024 and we have to participate in the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028. We have a very tight training schedule and I’m just trying to be consistent with it. I’m taking care of my body because I want to play for at least 6 more years. I’m very focused on staying mentally and physically stable to achieve long term goals.


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