London: A tribal boy from West Bengal has
received a scholarship to a college in Gloucestershire
renowned for its sporting prowess and has qualified to play
rugby for Gloucestershire side Longlevens RFC.
20-year-old Sailen Tudu was spotted playing rugby
barefoot on wasteland in Kolkata and has won a scholarship to
a college in Gloucestershire.
Guided by the former England captain Phil Vickery,
Tudu, who prefers the nickname `The Beast from the East,` has
represented India and is aiming for a professional career in
Tudu, who touched a rugby ball for the first time just
five years ago, has described his introduction to the game
saying: "I first watched these kids play touch rugby with
cones on wasteland and I was amazed."
"They asked me to join in and I played in my bare feet
for a few months. I loved the speed and thrill of the game.
Now I`m playing alongside some of the finest sportsmen in
Europe. It`s incredible. I`m so lucky," he said.
Tudu recalls that he came from a tribal village in the
mountains "with no running water or electricity, no books,
where rugby is unheard of. The people there are some of the
poorest in India."
Tudu, who plays on the wing or at fullback, moved to
Kolkatta when his father started a job as a police officer.
Within weeks of starting to play rugby he was spotted
by Paul Walsh, a former diplomat from the British High
Commission, who had formed a rugby team of street children
called the Jungle Crows.
Tudu quickly became the team`s star player, quit
school to play in several minor Indian competitions, and was
selected to play for the national under-19 side.
In 2007 Walsh flew Tudu to England, where he met
Vickery, who helped the player win a scholarship to study for
a diploma in sport, focusing on rugby, at Hartpury College.
Tudu also plays for the Gloucestershire side
"I have been fortunate to achieve some awesome things
in rugby but what Tudu has achieved is incredible. I`m
passionate about grassroots rugby and his story takes you back
to the roots of the game. It`s a fantastic story," Vickery
told The Guardian newspaper.
Tudu`s father, Sudhir Chandra Tudu said: "Sailen loved
sport, and I encouraged him to do what he liked. But rugby? He
didn`t even know such a game existed."