We welcome RWU friend and Turkish Rugby expert Oyton Colok to the fold.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Just to bring you all up to speed, Niall Doherty became the Turkish National Team Coach in 2011. During his tenure, Turkey won its first test match in April 29 2012, 31-5 against Slovakia in Bratislava. Turkey’s second win was against Estonia in May 12 2012; another with another lopsided score of 49-5.
These victories enabled Turkey to become a FIRA-AER associate member in June 2012 and take its place in ENC Group 3 – with Slovakia and Azerbaijan.
For this new designation, Doherty tapped Turkish players who play in Turkey, France, Germany and England. The new team played their first international against Slovakia in Antalya and won 34-6. They also faced Azerbaijan… and won again.
Those successes earned Turkey has full membership of FIRA-AER (June 2013). The team played their second games for ENC 3 group last month. beating Slovakia and Azerbaijan again. Unfortunately, Doherty’s contract expired and he was replaced by Engin Yüksel, who had worked with Mr. Doherty. Yüksel formed a new line-up, calling 9 players from Turkey, 1 from England, 5 from Germany and 9 from France. This squad beat Azerbaijan 31-3 and Slovakia 55-3, earning the right to move to the upper level without losing any games.
Luxembourg has risen from ENC 2D to 2C, while Austria fell from ENC 2C to ENC 2D and is now a Turkey opponent… Finland has fallen from 2D and is now 3A. Now that the smoke has cleared, Turkey’s new opponents will be: Austria, Norway, Bosnia Herzegovina and Greece.
Also helping Turkish Rugby gain strength is the newly-formed Union of Turkish Rugby Clubs, formed under my chairmanship. This will help Turkey go full force towards the Olympic Games with proven/strong Men’s and Women’s teams. In addition, Coach Yüksel has eased the transition from Doherty’s time. In fact, Turkey is now proud to have trained a new international level coach. Indeed, it was risky continuing with a Turkish coach rather than a foreign coach, but this risk has paid off, as Mr.Yüksel has proven himself with the latest wins.
Another topic of high interest is why the National Team consists of players that are playing in Europe? Both coaches were criticized about their choices. The idea first came from Doherty because players who have international experience are a good learning source for the rest of the team. Mr. Yüksel followed his teacher’s idea, but implemented his own style, giving more space to Turkish League players. Looking at the scores, we can say that Turkish League players have improved their technical skills.
Turkey has the potential to be the fastest-growing team in Europe and help support growth of European rugby as well. Therefore, we expect more support for the national team. In that vein, FIRA-AER is strongly supporting our team and I expect good rugby from Mr. Yüksel and the new players in ENC 2D.
In a twist of rugby fate, 4 years ago our ex-coach Niall Doherty was leading our new opponents – Greece. In conclusion, I don’t think we are lacking power or technical skills in comparison to any of our opponents. Our talks with our friends from FIRA-AER and the IRB back that up. To that end, Turkey will complete the requirements and become an associate member of IRB in a year, which will pave the path to other international tournaments.
While Turkey has shown itself to be very strong for ENC 3 and likely should have been 2D from the beginning, we are here now. After just 2 years, we strongly believe we will be successful in this group.
Thanks for your time reading this post/rant… feel free to comment below. You can follow Turkish Rugby and please look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd, Declan Yeats and me, Oytun Çölok, respectively.