LAHORE - The Rugby 7s Championship will be played from May 7 at Multan with the country’s top-notch junior rugby players featuring in it.

“U-16 tournaments are the nurseries to groom young talent to form national junior teams and to have a reservoir of players. In all, seven teams from Punjab will exhibit their talent in the two-day activity which is the first U-16 tournament being organised in Southern Punjab," said Pakistan Rugby Union (PRU) president Fawzi Khawaja here on Thursday.

He said PRU head coach Shakeel Ahmad was a vital support to them as he was managing different age groups rugby development programmes by imparting latest coaching knowledge to the aspiring players. Multan Rugby Association (MRA) secretary Abdul Malik will be tournament director while Shakeel along with Syed Mozzam Ali will be the observers.

He said the competition was part of the PRU development programme to expand the span of its activities in Southern Punjab to motivate the youth to take up rugby as a sport. "We have immense rugby talent and that is why we are now focusing southern Punjab to involve youth in rugby which is gaining rapid popularity in the country,” he added.

The PRU chief said that the participating teams include Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Vehari, Kot Adu, Bahawalpur and Haroonabad. "The players of all the participating teams are giving final touches to their preparations and we expect thrilling matches in the event,” he said.

"We have our women as well as boys U-16 and U-23 teams in South Punjab which strengthen our claim that rugby is a sport which is gaining immense popularity across the country,” he added.

Fawzi said the PRU was laying special emphasis at grassroots level to find new talent and it was holding youth competitions throughout the country on regular basis to broaden the base of the game. “It is the result of our hard work and solid efforts that today, we have women rugby teams in Fata, KP and Sindh too,” he said.