Singapore on 7s show

Singapore’s rugby men (in red) beat Brunei 47-0 en route to qualifying for the SEA 7s final against Thailand today.
PHOTO: The New Paper

The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series returns to the Republic today after a 10-year absence, and to mark the occasion, the Singapore flag will be flown proudly at the National Stadium, by both its men's and women's teams.

Both teams turned in sturdy performances in the South-east Asia (SEA) 7s tournament at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium yesterday, winning the right to troop out at the Singapore Sports Hub's centrepiece facility in the respective finals of the inaugural regional tournament.

The women's final will kick-off at 12.56pm, with the men's final later at 4.17pm and both matches will feature a Singapore-Thailand clash.

"It is going to be pretty massive for us to be playing in front of the home fans tomorrow and the boys really deserved it," said Singapore captain Daniel Marc Chow, after his team romped to a 45-0 win over Indonesia, beat Laos 31-0 and brushed aside Brunei 47-0 to finish top of Group B.

"We expect a really tough game tomorrow and hopefully, with the home support, we can come up tops.

"If we win tomorrow, it will show that we can be on top of the game in South-east Asia and, hopefully, we can soon take on the heavyweights as well."

Singapore Rugby Union chief Low Teo Ping was pleased with both teams.

Speaking to local media on the sidelines of the tournament, he said: "We organised the SEA 7s to develop 7s here and in the region.

"If we want to progress, our neighbours must play 7s as good as us. If you look at (the standard of the 7s game) in Asia, trying to play Japan and Korea is out of the question… So we need our neighbours to improve along with us.

STAGE TO PERFORM

"We have given both our men and women's teams this stage.

"Now that they have gotten into the finals tomorrow, I cannot ask for more."

The Singapore men finished the SEA Games 7s competition on home soil last year with the bronze medal. The Philippines bagged the gold, while Malaysia claimed the silver.

In the women's competition, Thailand beat Singapore in the final, with the Philippines in third place.

Singapore women's coach Wang Shao Ing was equally pleased, sporting a broad grin as she walked towards the stands at Yio Chu Kang.

She witnessed her charges bounce back from a 29-5 defeat by Thailand in the group stage to beat Laos 28-7 to qualify for the semi-final, where they edged past the Philippines 12-5.

"It's pleasing who we came through the tournament… Getting to the final was the target and, while (facing) Thailand will be a challenge, we are up for it," she said, lauding the impact of such a regional tournament on the women's game.

"It's really great that we are hosting this, it does help raise awareness for women's rugby.

"After (last year's) SEA Games, there was a spike in interest in women's rugby and we hope there'll be more after this."

The HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens Series kicks off at 10am today with a Pool A match between South Africa and Scotland.

shamiro@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 16, 2016.
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