Iranian women's rugby team take to the field wearing modesty-preserving headscarves and tracksuits
Sumber di siniBy Nick Pisa
Last updated at 2:13 PM on 5th August 2010
If the rugby-playing women of Iran's national sevens team had cauliflower ears, no-one could tell.
Kitted out in tight-fitting headscarves and full tracksuits to protect their modesty, the players caused quite a stir when they played in Europe for the first time.
Taking to the field in a women's seven-a-side tournament in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, they were dealt a 10-0 by the host nation and then suffered a further 33-0 setback in a second game.
Representing Iran: Female coach Fatemeh Moolai, with arm raised, talks to her players during the women's rugby sevens tournament where the Iran team appeared in Europe for the first time
In all the matches the team played wearing the 'maghnaeh', a veil that fully covers the head, shoulders and neck, along with red tracksuit tops and bottoms.
A quarter of a century ago, in the early years of the 1979 Islamic revolution when competitive sports for women were strongly discouraged, it would have been unthinkable for Iranian women to play a sport as physical as rugby.
Iranian team coach Fatme Molai, who has been in the job for four years, said: 'Wearing a veil does not change our method of play - clothes are something you wear and don't influence what you know how to do.
'To be honest the federation are looking at other head covers which are perhaps more practical.
'This was our first tournament in Europe and although we didn't win as we did in Laos and Thailand I am very happy.'
On the ball: Iran's Zohre Eyni, left, is challenged by Italy's Sara Pettinelli during the clash which Italy won
Arrival: The team enters the playing field for the 'Cortina' seven-a-side tournament
'The whole team has learnt how to keep the veil in place so that it doesn't interfere with play and I think we have shown that even a physical game like rugby can be played in a veil.
'There are no risks playing in a veil, as I said what is important is that you arrange it safe and well, what you have to be careful with is losing your tracksuit bottoms in a tackle or scrum.'
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Alireza Iraj, Tehran women's rugby coach, said as a man he had to stick with one of Iran's Islamic rules which states that members of the opposite sex cannot touch each other unless they are married couples or immediate members of a family.
Come back here: Iran's Farzaneh Navab Rad, right, is challenged by Italy's Federica Carlet
When advising the team on how to tackle, Iraj keeps a decent distance away from the women and then instructs one of the players to demonstrate how to grab an opponent rather than carrying out the move himself.
Women's rugby was first introduced to Iran 10 years ago, and has grown in popularity ever since.
Safe hands: Iran's Nazanin Ammanyan, left, is challenged by Italy's Michela Este during the tournament