Rugby Video Monday: Iranian Women’s Rugby

Elham Shahsavari, a 24-year-old Iranian woman, believes she has found her perfect sport, undeterred by a strict Islamic dress code and the long commute to training.

Shahsavari is a member of the Tehran women’s rugby team.

Rugby and women may not seem an ideal combination in Islamic Iran but girls are taking to one of the toughest sports with enthusiasm, amid greater official encouragement for them to participate in physical activities.

“In early 2006, Gorgan University advised me to play rugby because of my physical power,” said the well-built Shahsavari, who overcame objections from her family who worried about her travelling to training from a Tehran suburb.

“Rugby Union was just my thing,” she said.

All women most cover their heads and bodily contours in Iran. The rugby field is no exception.

The players dart around the pitch wearing the ‘maghnaeh’, a garment that fully covers the head, shoulders and neck, as well as a loose blue waistcoat, long-sleeved dark T-shirts and loose tracksuit trousers.


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