7 REASONS WHY SINGAPORE 7S WILL SHAPE RUGBY SPIRIT HERETuesday, 19 April 2016 19:19
The Singapore 7s returned to the IRB Sevens World Series calendar after a 9-year hiatus. The last time it was held back in 2006 at the former National Stadium, Fiji defeated England 40-21 to win the Cup final. Nothing much has changed since then in terms of favourites as Fiji was hotly-tipped to win this leg of the series following a convincing Cup final victory in Hong Kong the previous weekend.
There was much hype and fanfare in the months leading up to the return of the Singapore 7s. Securing the rights to host this event over the next four years was seen as a major coup for the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) and re-invigorated plans for the game locally. This article will detail 7 reasons why the 2016 Singapore Rugby 7s will shape the future of the rugby spirit in this island.
1) 3 words - Sonny Bill Williams
Clearly the man of the weekend - every time his name was announced over the PA system, it was greeted by loud cheers from the crowd. His every touch on the field brought expectations and by the end of the tournament, the whole stadium was in awe of his world-class skillset. Above it all though, it was his humility and willingness to engage with the fans which endeared him to the masses. It is not everyday that you will find a superstar who has no ego about him and the Singapore 7s will be extremely grateful for his presence which helped to raise the profile of the tournament (and the game) tremendously.
2) Grit and courage of the Kenyans
The Kenyan 7s team has to be the Cinderella story coming out of the Singapore 7s. Prior to the tournament, the Kenyans have never recorded a Cup victory in the history of the series. They did come close on two occasions, reaching the finals in the 2013 Wellington Sevens and 2009 Adelaide Sevens tournament. However, there was nothing to suggest that there was to be any sort of fairytale run by the Kenyans as they have been on a mediocre run of results in the past seven rounds of the current series.
Many in the audience were expecting a rout in the finals considering their opposition, Fiji, had been in breathtaking form. However, Kenya silenced the naysayers and came out worthy winners in the end. If there’s one thing we want Singapore rugby to identify with, it is the Kenyan’s never-say-die attitude and courage in the face of tremendous odds stacked against them. (Photo credit: World Rugby)
3) Encouraging crowd support for ACS (I) vs RI
One of the highlights over the weekend, albeit surprisingly, was the World First Singapore Schools U14 Sevens Series finals on Sunday. The teams representing Raffles Institution and Anglo Chinese School Independent (ACS(I)) played with such ambition and courage from the get-go that it got fans off their seats and raised the noise level in the stadium. What made the support all the more inspiring was the fact that many of our international counterparts got in on the act!
ACS(I) won the contest 14-12 despite Raffles Institution getting an early try that involved their winger running half the length of the pitch. It bodes well for the future of Singapore rugby if these talents as well as the level of interest in local rugby can be developed. (Photo credit: World Rugby)
4) Kids getting involved over the weekend thanks to family zone
One of the most encouraging aspects of the Singapore 7s was seeing the huge number of kids in the audience. This was made possible due to the setting up of family zones (and heavily discounted ticket prices) which encouraged parents to bring their kids along. On top of that, there were many kids-friendly activities happening on the fringes e.g. balloon sculpting, face painting etc. which meant that there was plenty of entertainment for the entire family.
Having said that, it should be noted that while the family zone was designated as a no-alcohol zone, there were plenty of beer cups present. The security seems to have been lax about enforcing this and more should be done in subsequent editions.
5) Support for SEA 7s
As part of the sideshow, our men’s and women’s rugby team competed in the SEA 7s finals. Both teams did extremely well to get through the preliminaries the previous day but eventually fell short to their Thai counterparts at the final hurdle. While the rugby was frustrating at times, the commitment of the players cannot be faulted. A particularly significant moment came in the men’s finals when Singapore’s Nicholas Yau made a barnstorming run, fending off a couple of Thais, en route to the try line.
The SEA 7s provides a great opportunity for rugby talents around the region to get in on the act. It further provides the public with an opportunity to support our national players. Kudos to the organisers for creating this platform!
6) Fun-filled entertainment throughout the weekend
A key part of building a distinct rugby spirit is to first have a community that is engaged and involved. The organisers of the Singapore 7s did brilliantly in creating an environment that gets people coming back for more and wishing to be part of the particular community. From the parties planned at Clarke Quay, to the many exciting entertainment programmes planned in between matches as well as the idea of dressing up to the event, many in attendance will remember just how much (whacky) fun they had over the weekend.
Surely we’ll be expecting an even bigger turnout for the subsequent editions!
7) Awesome media coverage prelude to games day
The amount of media coverage for the event was pretty unprecedented for a rugby event in Singapore. A footballing nation, rugby is used to being in the shadows in this city-state. It was definitely not the case this past weekend as every major news outlet both locally and internationally, trained their attention to our National Stadium. Much effort had been made to put rugby in the spotlight both in the grasssroots as well as the international level; not to mention the warm hospitality towards the visiting teams too. And of course, the 27,000-odd spectators during the Singapore 7s clearly surpassed the target of the event organiers.
Till next year, Singapore Rugby 7s! #BringYourGame
Writer: Asyraf Isnin (@asyrafisnin)
Asyraf is an avid fan of sports in general and he likes to pick up a new sport as often as he picks up dumbbells (about once every six months). He believes that nothing is better than discovering new experiences which explains why he goes on soul-searching mountain trips every now and then. Otherwise, he likes to live his city life dangerously on his Honda NSR 150.