|Rugby union in Singapore|
National Stadium, Singapore (capacity 55,000)
|Governing body||Singapore Rugby Union|
|First played||Late 19th century|
Rugby union is not a major sport in Singapore. Singapore is currently ranked 58th in the world and 6th in Asia. As of February 2015, there over 12,000 registered players, with more than 2,000 women playing the sport. There are also 15 formally organised clubs with 4 registered Women's sides.
Club Rugby in Singapore is played in three divisions – the Premiership, the Championship, and the Conference. School Rugby is also hotly contested over three age groups – the C division (under 14), the B division (under 17) and the A division (under 19). There are also a few schools that have a primary-school-level rugby programme where they contest in the under-12 competition.
The governing body of rugby union in Singapore is the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU), which was founded in 1966. It joined the International Rugby Football Board (now World Rugby) in 1988.
Like some other places, Singaporean rugby's colonial inheritance has proven a hindrance. The game is popular among expatriate workers from Commonwealth countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand – and there are at least twenty such rugby clubs founded on this basis. While there has been some take up amongst other groups, and a long-standing effort to involve Singaporeans, including by Australians Peter Randall and Andrew Blades in the mid 1990s,progress in growing the game has only been gradual.
Rugby union was introduced to the British colony of Singapore in the late 19th century. It has had a steady presence since the beginning of the 20th century, when the Malaya Cup between Singapore Civilians team and states of Malaya was then established, which is one of the oldest rugby competitions in the world.
However, unlike the other colonial city state of Asia, Hong Kong, rugby has not been quite so successful in Singapore. The tragic events of the Second World War and the Japanese occupation of Singapore also disrupted its growth. Between 1945 and 1991, a regiment of New Zealanders was based in Singapore, and during those years they dominated the game to the extent that when they left, the Singaporean rugby scene almost fell apart.
1971 saw the launch of an all national U-23 team made up of locals from the police force, armed forces, schools and local clubs when it played a curtain raiser game against a Malaysia U-23 (which they won), to the main touring England vs Singapore Select game.
3 Locals were selected in the Singapore Select Squad to play England at Jalan Besar Stadium on 3 October 1971. Leow Kim Liat of Police Military was to captain the side, but was injured prior and was unable to play. The final score was 39 -9.
The true local Singapore rugby story began in 1972 when the national team under the presidency of ASP Niaz Mohd Shah who led the charge to send a team made up of only of Singapore Citizens to partake in the 3rd Asian Rugby Football Tournament in Hong Kong. The team was led by Leow Kim Liat and performed credibly with a 4th placing result.
In 1975, the Singapore National team took part in the SEAP Games in Bangkok and emerged 3rd winning a bronze medal. In 1977, under the presidency of renowned lawyer, Mr Howard Cashin, Singapore ,as an all citizens national team, took part in the SEA Games held at Kuala Lumpur and emerged runner up with a silver medal.
The national team's best season was in 1978 when they beat the Singapore-based Kiwi's 1st RNZIR battalion team in the semi finals of the MRU Cup competition played in Kuala Lumpur, and then went on to win the grand final. Later in the same year, also in Kuala Lumpur at the 6th Asian Rugby Football Tournament, the Singapore all-Asian nationals team emerged third in Asia against all odds, after Japan and Korea. They defeated Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand in the run up to the third placing.
For the stellar performance in 1978, the Singapore National Olympic Council awarded national sports accolades to Singapore rugby. The Singapore all-nationals team won the 1978 Team of the Year award, the Coach of the Year went to rugby coach, Natahar Bava and Sportsman of the Year went to the pack leader, Song Koon Poh. This was a "Grand Slam" achievement by the game of rugby in the history of sport in Singapore.
The MRU Cup victory feat was repeated again in 1982, and again the team was coached by Natahar Bava Likewise, the 7s game also flourished in Singapore from 1977 to 1982. The Singapore all-nationals team played in the ever popular Hong Kong 7s in 1978, emerging as Plate finalists. In 1979, the team qualified for the cup quarter finals for first time ever but eventually lost out to Western Samoa. In 1980 Singapore again qualified for the plate finals. In spite of all the adversities encountered, these achievements by local rugby and the SRU then were momentous indeed and showed that local rugby did flourish in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Singapore rugby did not maintain the same levels of achievement into the 1990s. After a heavy defeat at the hands of Hong Kong in 1995, the SRU decided to appoint a full-time officer and four part-time development officers, and instituted a schools programme. Between 1995 and 1998, over a hundred schools took up the sport.
Singapore competed in the Asian Rugby Championship divisional tournaments starting in 1998, playing in a round-robin with Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.The Singapore's sevens team began playing in the Commonwealth Sevens with the inaugural tournament being held in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, and the team continued to compete in the Hong Kong Sevens tournament.
The Singapore Sevens tournament was set up as a standby for the Hong Kong Sevens, should it have declined under Chinese rule.It formed part of the IRB World Sevens Series in 2002, and from 2004 to 2006 before being replaced on the tour by the 2007 Adelaide Sevens.
The SRU hosted the inaugural World Club 10s rugby tournament in 2014 at the new National Stadium, with eight international club teams competing.The Auckland Blues, captained by Piri Weepu, defeated the ACT Brumbies after double extra time by 10–5 to win the first title.
The Singapore Sevens tournament returned as an official event within the Asian Sevens Series in 2013, before a four-year deal was secured to host a leg of the Sevens World Series in Singapore again starting from the 2015–16 season.
When Japan's Sunwolves team gained admission to the Super Rugby competition for the 2016 season, they agreed to host some of their home matches in Singapore at the National Stadium.
Senior men's competitions:
Junior men's competitions are played by schools over three age groups:
At the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be hosted by Japan, in addition to the nine venues located in that country, one venue each from Singapore and Hong Kong have also been proposed to host five matches respectively.The Singapore Sports Hub, the successor to the National Stadium, with a capacity of 50,000, will be used for this purpose.
Singapore rugby referees have performed notably on the international stage, despite the small rugby playing population. They have been appointed to referee at international events like the Hong Kong Sevens, Asian Games, and the Commonwealth Games, as well as at top Asian test matches such as Hong Kong vs Japan.
The Hong Kong Sevens is considered the premier tournament on the World Rugby Sevens Series competition. The Hong Kong Sevens is currently the seventh tournament on the World Series calendar, and is held annually in Hong Kong on a weekend in late March or early April. The tournament spans three days, beginning on a Friday and concluding on Sunday. The tournament is organised each year by the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU). This year's Hong Kong Rugby Sevens was originally due to be held on Friday 3, Saturday 4, Sunday 5 April 2020, but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, possibly until October 2020.
The Scottish Rugby Union is the governing body of rugby union in Scotland. It is the second oldest Rugby Union, having been founded in 1873, as the Scottish Football Union. The SRU oversees the national league system, known as the Scottish League Championship, and the Scottish National teams. The SRU is headed by the President and Chairman, with Mark Dodson acting as the Chief Executive Officer. Bradbury became the first female president of a Tier 1 rugby nation upon her appointment on 4 August 2018.
West of Scotland Football Club is a rugby union club based in Milngavie, Scotland.
The Hong Kong national rugby union team, nicknamed the Dragons, is one of the better rugby sides in Asia outside Japan, and has consistently made the repechages of the Rugby World Cup qualifying. Rugby union in Hong Kong is administered by the Hong Kong Rugby Union since 1952, and competes annually in the Asia Rugby Championship.
The Philippines national rugby union team, nicknamed the "Volcanoes", represents the Philippines in international rugby union. The Philippines have been playing in the Asia Rugby Championship since 2006 when the team was first created. In 2012 they won the Division I championship and were promoted to the top 5 for the 2013 tournament where they earned 4th place and again in the 2014 tournament. The Philippines have yet to make their debut at the Rugby World Cup.
Hong Kong Football Club or Natixis HKFC is a private members sports and social club in Hong Kong. It is situated in Happy Valley, with the sports pitches being inside the Happy Valley Racecourse. The 2,750-capacity Hong Kong Football Club Stadium is the Hong Kong Rugby Union home pitch.
The China national rugby union team represents the People's Republic of China in international rugby union. China have yet to make their debut at the Rugby World Cup, but attempted to qualify in both 2003 and 2007.
The Singapore national rugby union team has yet to make its debut at the Rugby World Cup, though since the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Singapore have been participating in qualification competitions.
The Samoa national rugby sevens team, referred to as the Samoa Sevens or Manu Samoa 7s, competes in the annual World Rugby Sevens Series. Representing the tiny Polynesian country of Samoa with a population of about 180,000 the Samoa competes against some of the wealthiest countries in the world. The Samoa sevens team is overseen by the Samoa Rugby Football Union, which oversees all of rugby union in Samoa.
Rugby union in Asia is a growing sport, and is governed by the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU). As of December 2009 there are 28 ARFU member unions, of whom 15 are full members of World Rugby, and six further associate members of World Rugby in Asia. The flagship tournament for promoting the sport in Asia is the Asian Five Nations, which launched in 2008, and which most recently in 2011 saw the national teams of Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and the UAE, compete in the main tournament.
The Indonesia national rugby union team represents Indonesia in rugby union. They are nicknamed the "Rhinos". The team is a full member of World Rugby. They have yet to play in the Rugby World Cup. The Indonesian squad was formed in 2006 to attend the IRB sanctioned Six Division Asian Rugby Football Tournament between Brunei, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. They currently compete in Division 3 South-East in the Asian Rugby Football Union.
Rugby union in China is a growing sport; however, it is still not overly popular. China became affiliated to the International Rugby Board in 1997 and as of 1 July 2019, its women's XV side was ranked 24th and its men's XV side 80th in the world. Neither the women's team nor the men's team has yet qualified for a Women's Rugby World Cup or a men's Rugby World Cup. However, China has hopes of one day hosting the men's event, and World Rugby has indicated it supports taking the event there.
Rugby union in Hong Kong is long established, partly as a result of its being a British colony. In contrast to the People's Republic of China, it has had a continuous existence dating back over a hundred years, and is most notable for the Hong Kong Sevens tournament, the most well known of the rugby sevens tournaments. The top domestic club competition is the HKRFU Premiership.
Rugby union in Sri Lanka is mainly played at a semi-professional and recreational level. It is a popular team sport with a history dating back to 1879. In 2012, according to International Rugby Board figures, there were over 103,000 registered rugby union players in Sri Lanka, making it the second largest rugby-playing nation in Asia, behind Japan.
Rugby union in Malaysia is a sport with a long history, and a significant participation. There are 41,050 registered players, and the country is currently ranked 47th. There are sixteen unions, associations and councils affiliated to the Malaysian Rugby Union, more than 300 clubs, and 600 schools which teach the game. Malaysian rugby's most notable contribution to the game at large is the invention of rugby tens.
The Manila 10s is an annual men's rugby union tournament featuring a variant of rugby union popular in Southeast Asia called Rugby tens organized annually by Nomad Sports Club in Parañaque, Manila. The tournament is held one week before Hong Kong Sevens every year, allowing clubs from around the world to participate in the tournament prior to watching Hong Kong Sevens. Manila 10s features 4 divisions of varying skill levels as well as a veteran's division for teams featuring only players over-35.
The Philippines national rugby sevens team is a minor national sevens side. The 2012 Hong Kong Sevens was their first appearance in an IRB Sevens World Series. They were 1 of 4 Asian teams that qualified through regional tournaments to be included in the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens, it is also a qualifying tournament for inclusion in the 2012–13 IRB Sevens World Series. After the Philippines won third place against South Korea in the 2012 Singapore Sevens Series, they gained qualification to the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow. The Philippines finished third at the 2018 Asia Rugby Sevens Series, and qualified to the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens World Series qualifier. At the tournament, the team defeated Zimbabwe and advanced to quarter-finals, where they lost to Asian rival Hong Kong.
Justin "Sambo" Sampson is a sports television personality, professional speaker and former Australian rugby union player. Sampson has played representative rugby with New South Wales Country and North Harbour. He was an accomplished rugby coach, having coached the Singapore and the Indonesian national teams and has traveled worldwide conducting coaching clinics, fundraising activities and other events to help promote the sport of rugby. He is also a rugby commentator and presenter covering international matches on networks such as ESPN Star Sports and ABC TV (Australia).
The 2018 Asia Rugby Championship was the fourth annual rugby union series for the top-level Asia Rugby nations. The Asia Rugby Championship in 2018 formed part of the World Cup qualifying process and, as such, did not include Japan who had already qualified as the 2019 Rugby World Cup host. Hong Kong and South Korea were joined by Malaysia, promoted from Division 1, to compete in the 2018 series. Other Asian nations played in the lower division tournaments.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rugby union in Singapore .|