Ruba Rosalina Bukhatwa, known to her team mates as Rose, will become the first player to take to the rugby field in Ireland in a hijab, the traditional Muslim headscarf. Ruba, who’s from Rathfarnham, wanted to join Tallaght RFC but as an orthodox muslim, she wanted to be able to play while wearing her hijab. Tallaght RFC made an official request to the IRFU and within four weeks they responded that they would permit Rose to play wearing her hijab with some minor stipulations. The confirmation that it was okay to wear the hijab was dependent on it being securely fitted and tucked into and underneath her jersey. The IRFU also advised that Rose should wear a scrum cap over it to ensure that any loose parts stay close to her head and secure for the duration of the game.
Ruba, whose Libyan parents moved to Dublin when she was two, has always been a keen athlete competing in the discus, javelin and shot put as well as being a basketball player. She’s now studying law in Griffith University. She did try to play rugby in school when she was younger but there were not enough other girls schools around Dublin playing the game and it worked against them.
“I can wear the scarf they said but it has to be tucked in for safety reasons,” she says. “It has to be tucked in so that no one can tug at it. When I went to the first training session it was interesting. I didn’t have any contact with my face or neck so it was grand. No one was grabbing at your neck. There was no problem with it whatsoever. The problem when we were playing in school was that we didn’t have enough secondary schools to compete against so it wasn’t something I got to practice.
“I played basketball and I did athletics and went to Santry and stuff. It was pretty basic. But now I’m playing with Tosin (Omiyale) on the team and it’s pretty good to be back playing sports. Hopefully next year when I graduate I’ll be the youngest graduate with a Law degree and I want to go on to be a solicitor or maybe even a barrister. Whatever I do I want to make sure it is a good representation of my religion,” she concludes.
Ruba is most welcome to Tallaght RFC and we can’t wait to see her on the field representing her club and her community with pride.
Picture: Alan Betson