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Men’s, Women’s team outclass Bihar and Karnataka to march into semis of National Games

In yet another day of triumphs for Odisha at the ongoing 37th National Games 2023, both the Men’s and Women’s Rugby teams secured coveted spots in the semi-finals of the competition.

The Men’s team displayed exceptional grit, securing a decisive victory of 19-4 against Bihar, while the Women’s team delivered an authoritative performance, dominating the field with a powerful 64-0 victory against Karnataka.

The day’s result means that the Men’s team will face Maharashtra, while the Women’s team will face West Bengal in the semi-finals and the finals scheduled on Friday.

“We have been training very hard at the Kalinga Sports Complex in Bhubaneswar and we have focused on our defensive extensively for this tournament. Defensive is the best form of offence and I think our defensive work was evident in today’s matches, particularly in the Men’s victory against Bihar,” said head coach Manas Kumar Jena.

They played very well and worked well together, it was a team effort that got them this victory. In fact, even when they lost a league phase game against Bihar earlier in the day, the team received a lot of appreciation for how they played”, he added.

Jena seemed joyful after the women’s team’s resounding victory, and stated “We are a very strong team and they played very well today. It helps us that we have a lot of experience on the team so that gives us an advantage in crucial moments”.

Notably four women from the Odisha squad, Hupi Majhi, Dumuni Marandi, Tarulata Naik and Mama Naik represented India in the recently concluded Asian Games in China. Furthermore, Shahnawaz Ahamed from the men’s squad has also represented India in the Rugby Asian championship.

Speaking on both teams’ medal prospects, Coach Manas Kumar Jena opined, “I think we have a very good opportunity; I believe the girls should make it to the finals, the boys will undoubtedly face a very tough challenge against Maharashtra, but we are very optimistic.”

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