On Tuesday, Government of Odisha and Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU) signed an agreement, to sponsor the Indian national rugby teams for the next three years, till 2023, and facilitate high-performance training and conditioning of the players. Director- cum-Additional Secretary, Odisha, R Vineel Krishna and IRFU President Maneck Unwala, signed the agreement on behalf of the two parties, in the presence of Hon\u2019ble Minister of Sports and Youth Services, Odisha, Shri Tusharkanti Behera, Secretary Sports, Shri Vishal K Dev, CEO, IRFU, Naseer Hussain, actor, director and former Rugby International player, Shri Rahul Bose, Shri U K Mohanty, IRFU Board Member and Head, Odisha Rugby and senior officials of Sports and Youth Services Department, at the Kalinga Stadium. The Sponsorship will be extended towards training, conditioning and incentivizing the Indian national rugby teams (men & women) participating in international rugby events. Speaking on the occasion, Sports Minister, Shri Behera, highlighted, \u201cThis is a significant partnership for us. In recent years, we have seen a steady rise of Rugby in terms of popularity and participation, particularly the participation of young players due to the commendable efforts of Rugby India. And this partnership between Govt. of Odisha and Rugby India will not only help develop the sport of rugby further in Odisha and India but also support and strengthen the high-performance training of Indian National Rugby Teams.\u201d Rugby India President, Maneck Unwala said, \u201cWe thank the Government of Odisha with special mention to the Department of Sports & Youth Services (DSYS) for their continued support. On behalf of Rugby India, I am pleased to welcome them as AssociateSponsors of the Indian National Rugby teams. I am confident that the shared core values and vision of Odisha and Rugby India will ensure that this partnership thrives and is beneficial for our rugby athletes.\u201d He further added, \u201cThe Odisha Government is dedicatedly working towards their vision of\u2019Sports, a priority for Odisha\u2019, by developing the state as a hub for major sporting events and creating international standard high-performance training centres in multiple sports for the country.\u201d Commenting on the occasion, Rahul Bose said, \u201cThis is a historic day for Indian Rugby. Thanks to this sponsorship from the Govt of Odisha, national rugby players (women and men) will, for the first time ever, be paid for their services to the Indian rugby teams.\u201d \u201cThis marks a first, solid step towards making rugby a professional sport in the country. Today we celebrate the long-standing partnership we have with Odisha as we pave the way for a bright future for our athletes,\u201d he added. The partnership is based on the Odisha Government\u2019s mission to develop, promote and expand the Sports ecosystem beyond Hockey and Football. After sponsoring the National Hockey teams in 2018 for a period of five years, and later supporting the ISL team -Odisha FC, State of Odisha has set another benchmark today by sponsoring the National Rugby Teams.