Expect 'war' in November

Expect 'war' in November
New Zealand All Blacks player Liam Messam (top) leads the haka against England during the second rugby union test match in Dunedin on June 14, 2014.

SINGAPORE will hear an authentic "Haka" war cry in November when the Maori All Blacks rugby team arrive as part of a three-city Asian tour.

Comprising the best New Zealand players of Maori descent, they will face invitational outfit Asia Pacific Dragons at the National Stadium on Nov 15.

Matches against world No. 10 Japan in Kobe and Tokyo on Nov 1 and 8 will precede the glamour friendly at the 55,000-capacity venue in Kallang.

Notable players to have represented the Maori All Blacks in the past include full internationals Christian Cullen, Piri Weepu and Carlos Spencer.

The side have won 16 consecutive games since a loss at home to England at New Plymouth in 2003.

Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping said: "It will be a great opportunity for Singaporeans to catch world-class rugby up close live, and comes on the back of international tournaments such as the World Club 10s and the SCC International Rugby 7s."

The World Club 10s was the first event to be held at the National Stadium last month.

The Blues from Auckland won the first-of-its-kind, 10-a-side tournament which drew a 10,000-strong crowd.

The Dragons, who are likely to fill Singapore's Super Rugby spot if the city beats Japan in the bidding to join the elite southern hemisphere series, are coached by former New Zealand All Blacks captain Tana Umaga.

New Zealand Maori Rugby Board chairman Wayne Peters said: "Singapore, and the South-east Asian region, is an emerging market for rugby and we know there is a huge appetite there to see the exciting style of rugby the Maori All Blacks are famous for, against the 'home' team of the Asia Pacific Dragons.

"The Asia Pacific Dragons will also include several younger Asian players in a wider training squad which will provide them with valuable exposure to a professional rugby environment.

"It provides a great opportunity to further develop the game in that part of the world."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 8, 2014.
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