Rwandan rugby teams wear pink, white and green after Swilers donation
When they heard how their Rwandan teammate struggled back home, they wanted to help
Uniforms worn by some rugby teams in Rwanda may be familiar to Newfoundland rugby fans, thanks to the efforts of the Swilers Rugby Football Club's senior men's team.
Swilers player Innocent Ahorukomeye just returned to St,. John's from delivering rugby jerseys and equipment to players in his home country of Rwanda. It was all donated by his Swilers teammates.
"I would say that it's like a gift from God," he told the St. John's Morning Show. "The way the boys they see that, it's like OK, there's somebody watching over us and somebody who can do the best to make us better."
We used to play with nothing.- Innocent Ahorukomeye
Ahorukomeye played rugby in Rwanda before he moved to Canada. He moved to St. John's in 2015, after living in Montreal.
"I came here for a visit and I fell in love with Newfoundland," he said.
He said he happened to be walking by the Swilers practice facility on Crosbie Road in St. John's one day and was approached to be on the team.
"I said, 'Yes, sir.'"
So much luggage
Rugby in St. John's is a lot different than in Rwanda.
"We used to play with nothing," he said. Equipment was hard to come by, and what the Rwandan players did have was worn and often in need of repair.
Ras Icent a player with our Senior Men’s team recently returned home to Rwanda for a visit after moving to Canada a few years ago.<br><br>Here is his old team the Kigali- Rwanda Lions Rugby Team wearing their new donated Swilers Jerseys. <a href="https://t.co/3PfgmvdIGv">pic.twitter.com/3PfgmvdIGv</a>—@swilersrugby
When Ahorukomeye's Swilers teammates heard about how Rwandan rugby teams struggled to get decent gear, they wanted to help.
"We realized we had a full, whole playing kit here and we thought it would be really cool to give a gift en masse," said Morgan Lovell, executive director of the Swilers rugby club.
So when Ahorukomeye went home for a visit, they sent jerseys and equipment with him to give to the teams in Rwanda.
It was so much luggage, "I left all my belongings behind," he said.
Now there are Rwandan teams wearing the Swilers' signature pink, white and green jerseys.
"It's my pleasure to be able to help them," said Ahorukomeye. "I've been in the same situation."
The donation comes just in time, too — rugby in Rwanda is really catching on, Ahorukomeye said.
"Before it used to be [a] small thing. But now, we have like eight clubs, they're playing national tournaments. It's growing up, it's growing big."
With files from the St. John's Morning Show