A Streatham Vale-based rugby international claims the game must tackle cultural racism to attract more youngsters from ethnic minorities.

Shahid Rafiq made his debut for Pakistan last month and is bidding to help spur his country into the top-100 IRB world rankings after wins over the Philipines and Guam in Manilla.

Twelve other British Asian rugby players made the trip alongside the 33-year-old back row, and Shahid hopes their success will inspire others to take up the game.

"Muslim parents do not want their children playing rugby because of its drinking culture so, outside of school it is difficult to get young players into the game," said Shahid, who is also commercial director of the British Asian Rugby Association (BARA).

"Many Asians also place a high value on education at the cost of sporting interest, while some parents do not have time to take their kids to clubs or won't want them playing with non-Muslim youngsters.

"With the success of the national side we can become role models and prove the sport is compatible with the Muslim way of life.

"International rugby for Pakistan shows there is a vehicle for success in the game and a way British Asians can ultimately represent their country."

Pakistan won their South Asia Division Five league fixtures 27-22 against world number 82-ranked Guam, who fielded a number of American ex-pats, and 24-3 over the Philippines.

Self-employed IT expert Rafiq, who plays club rugby for Battersea Ironsides, played a key role in both triumphs.

The Pakistan RFU was established only in 2001 with three clubs in the entire country and 100 British-based players registered with the BARA, who are bidding to recruit more players into the game.

Pakistan have now been promoted into the Division Four and will be soon ranked alongside the likes of Finland, Monaco and Bulgaria.

Despite sweating it out in Manilla while his Ironsides team-mates put their feet up for the summer, Rafiq enjoyed the experience.

"It was quite hot out there with the standard of rugby a little higher than I am used to," he said.

"But I am towards the end of my playing days so I'm enjoying making up for lost time."

For more details on BARA visit www.bararugby.com