New York, NY – With all the big domestic matches happening over the past few months, the interviews with Mike Wilson of the Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) interview were left in the vault. We open the vault today and go back a few months to my adventure in Ghana to fill you in a bit about rugby in this small, but great, nation.
Before we get to Mr. Wilson let’s get some background on rugby in Ghana and its current state. There are 9 teams nationwide, but 6 are located in and around the capital, Accra. The game started developing in 2000, prior to that there informal teams or clubs started by ex-Pats and English Naval officers. Currently Ghana has both a
15-a-side and 7s team, that compete internationally. They received no funding from the Ghana Olympic Committee and all funding is through donations or out of the players pockets. They recently won the Division 3 Sevens title. It was a major milestone for Ghana Rugby’s growth.
Currently Ghana rugby is focusing on schools and introducing the game at a youth level. The plan is to get the game introduced to more secondary (High School) schools so the kids grow up playing rugby all the way through their formative years.
With this background on Ghana Rugby, let’s talk with the captain of Ghana’s Men’s 15s National Team, Mike Wilson.
JB: Mike, glad to have you here. Can you tell me and our readers, how did you become interested in rugby?
Wilson: It all started in 2003 when I watched an England game. I can’t remember how I was watching it but I was. England’s victory inspired me to go out and try rugby!
JB: Ok, great so how long after watching did you start and how long have you been playing since?
Wilson: I have been playing rugby for 10 years now, since I saw that game. My older brother James played rugby, he also inspired me to not only play but be the best I can be.
JB: I remember my first rugby game being utter chaos but afterward, I knew this was the game for me. How about you?
Wilson: I have to say the same thing. That first game changed everything for me. I knew this was the sport for me.
JB: Tell us about your rise from club rugby to National team.
Wilson: Well the national team was created in 2005 and there were no clubs then so it was only national team games for me until 2008 when I joined Cosmos Buffaloes. However in the intervening period I played for the under 18 national team and after my first season with the Buffaloes I made the national team in 2009.
JB: You mentioned you were one of the founding players of the Buffaloes, correct?
Wilson: Yes, I am one of the first Buffaloes. We are called Cosmos because we train and play at the Cosmos secondary school. Since our creation we have enjoyed huge success.
JB: Tell us about this success and the history of the Buffaloes?
Wilson: The Buffaloes were created by former national team player, and coach, Salim Amuzuloh. He began the club and got into coaching after an injury. Coach Salim brought me and a couple of the other guys over from the national team. The men’s team won the national title in 15s in 2012 and lead the table in 2013. Our mens 7s team also just won the national title. The women’s team are the 15s and 7s champions also. We also have a youth 15s side that we are developing.
JB: What is your role with the club and what position do you play?
Wilson: I am comfortable playing blindside flanker or 8man in 15s, and in 7s I am a prop. I serve as the club captain for both sides and off the field I am the website administrator and treasurer.
JB: Let’s take a break. If any of our readers are interested, you can watch the impromptu and unscripted video footage of our interview (warts and all) here, here and here.
That is it for today, tune in tomorrow for part 2 of the interview. In the meantime, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @Mathew Drew Turner and @Ebstide52, respectively. And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs