Incheon snub spurs Singapore rugby 7s team

Incheon snub spurs Singapore rugby 7s team
Singapore’s national rugby players (from left) Gaspar Tan, Mohammad Suhaimi Amran, captain Daniel Marc Chow and Muhammad Hasif Azman.

Fresh off the disappointment of missing out on the Asian Games, Singapore's rugby sevens outfit have a point to prove as they bid for another strong showing in the ARFU Asian Sevens Series this weekend.

They head for Kuala Lumpur today, looking to build on a creditable sixth placing in the opening leg of the series in Hong Kong three weeks ago.

There, led by talismanic captain Daniel Marc Chow, they beat regional favourites Thailand 21-12 and Malaysia 12-10 en route to the plate final, where they lost 0-31 to a rampant China.

Half-back Ishraf Marah, 19, also impressed, scoring two tries in the Hong Kong tournament.

Though the Singapore side improved on last year's ninth placing in the same leg and met the Singapore National Olympic Council's Asian Games qualification criteria, the deadline for appeals had passed.

"It's a bit disappointing because going to the Incheon Games would have meant more exposure against more top teams," said Chow, 30.

"But we still have to show that we can mix it with the best in the Asian Sevens Series."

Singapore, who are coached by former national player Ismail Kadir, will face favourites Japan and Chinese Taipei in the group phase at the MPPJ Stadium in Petaling Jaya. Team manager Clarence Lam said: "We had a good performance in Hong Kong but we are not resting on our laurels.

"Singapore showed we are serious in preparing for the SEA Games (next year in Singapore), and the other countries will definitely step up.

"We have much to improve and this tournament is a platform for everyone in the team to fight for places and prove they are capable of cementing their place in the squad."

The third and final leg of the series will be held in Beijing next month. The Singapore team will also compete at the SCC International Rugby 7s from Oct 31 to Nov 2 to round off their season.

nsanjay@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Sept 5 in The Straits Times.

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