Having never played rugby before, Manohar Narayana Rao’s first brush with the game was when he joined Societe Generale in April, 2019. When he came across the sport at Societe Generale, his first question was – why rugby? In a country that’s obsessed with cricket, rugby was not his first love. Manohar often played tennis and football, after he joined Societe Generale, he began exploring rugby through videos.
A few months later he got to experience the game for himself. As a part of the preparation for the Societe Generale Global Solution Centre Touch Rugby Fundraising Tournament. During his first practice session with team Déjà Vu, he found rugby to be far more demanding than he’d imagined. He wanted to quit and never return.
After his team mates encouraged him, he returned for the practice sessions. Fortunately, he scored a try, and he couldn’t get past this addictive feeling!
Match day was upon the team. Crippled with nervousness, he was entrusted with the left-wing position. Despite several missed opportunities on the field, he’d improved his game drastically by the end of the day. He became the wild card and scored three, crucial tries, with the support of his team mates. This led to team Déjà Vu’s winning streak.
Fundraising was the next vital phase of Manohar’s rugby experience. He relentlessly reached out to friends and family, ensuring that team Déjà Vu inches closer to its fundraising goals.
Touchdown in Hong Kong
Traveling to Hong Kong was extremely special for Manohar – it was his first international trip! He was nervous about the airport experience and immigration seemed especially scary. His team mates continued to support him through the airport queues – he finally boarded the airplane!
On the flight, excitement took over and Manohar couldn’t help but eagerly look out at the airport lights and the floating clouds as his captain kept documenting the experience on her phone. He was amused as he thought to himself, “this is how people who work in social media behave, always with a phone camera!”
Some hours later, Manohar and his team mates arrived in Hong Kong, to be greeted by a very warm welcome. At the hotel, he was moved by the hospitality – he felt like an Indian cricket star! The venue was rich and glamourous – only celebrities would get to experience this.
Match day experience
On day 1 of the two-day tournament, the weather was extremely hot, this was something new to Manohar. He proceeded to score try after try, through the six matches, as his coach and team mates encouraged him.
Aside from the lessons he learnt on the field, there were many first experiences for Manohar, including eating sushi with chopsticks and getting to interact with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. His celebrity-experience continued.
The second match day, Déjà Vu had qualified as one of the top 6 teams among the 26 participating teams, from 8 regions, after the team’s successive wins the previous day. Manohar had to play through torrential rain and a typhoon warning. His glasses were not cooperating as he struggled to gain visibility through the rain drops that felt like bullets. Despite this, he put in his best efforts as the level of rugby kept improving, across teams. Déjà Vu made it till the quarter finals and then lost by a few tries to a team from Japan.
Though team Déjà Vu’s journey stopped at the quarter finals, there were no losses. This experience led to many memorable experiences, on and off the field – interactions with his communication team mates in Hong Kong; his shopping experience in Temple Street, Hong Kong; trying the local cuisine and getting to know his rugby team mates better. Rugby helped Manohar forge a bond that would last forever.
The journey continues
Manohar continues to be an active part of the local rugby community, after this experience. He is grateful to Societe Generale, his team mates and his captain, Sushantika for providing him an opportunity to get out of his comfort zone and experience the joy of rugby! This opportunity helped him reach many of his personal aspirations, sooner.