The Garuda Rugby Football Club in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region has been growing since it was first established in 2017, as reported by Yuexiang, an official WeChat platform of the Lhasa Radio and Television Station.

The team of 27 players was first established in 2017 by Trinley Phuntsok, a Tibetan man who now works in the management office of the region’s Norbulingka Park.

“After three years of preparation and hard work, we are qualified to play in the Chinese Rugby Football Association from this year,” Trinley Phuntsok said. “We will make sure to play at least one match a year with players from other provinces, so we can get more chances for skill exchange.”

Sonam Dorje, vice-president of the team, said he loved the game while he was in college in Jiangxi province, so he picked up the sport again in Lhasa in 2019 after graduation.

“People in Tibet only saw rugby games in the movies,” he said. “Many consider it dangerous, and they become reluctant to play. We hope more people in Tibet likes this game and make it professional.”

The members of the Garuda Rugby Football Team in Lhasa came from various occupations like policemen and civil servants, and gather every Sundays for training.

“Due to the high elevation and lack of oxygen in the air in Tibet, players from other provinces are reluctant to play in Lhasa, therefore normally we participate as a visiting team,” said Sonam Dorje.