Rugby: HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens goes on charm offensive for April 2016 events

Japan (in red and black) scored a flurry of tries inside the final 10 minutes to defeat Hong Kong 24-19 in the championship match of the HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens series held at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium on Nov 10, 2013.
Japan (in red and black) scored a flurry of tries inside the final 10 minutes to defeat Hong Kong 24-19 in the championship match of the HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens series held at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium on Nov 10, 2013.PHOTO: SINGAPORE RUGBY UNION

S'pore Rugby 7s organiser kicks off outreach programmes to attract youngsters, families

The organisers of the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens are wasting no time in drumming up interest in the April 16 and 17 event.

With a month to go before tickets even go on sale, Rugby Singapore - the events and commercial arm of the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) - is rolling out two school-outreach programmes to attract youngsters and their families to the event.

The first initiative, Tag 7s, aims to teach rugby skills to more than 14,000 students in 140 schools.

The second is called Heroes In The Making. Under-16 players picked from two tournaments will attend clinics held by local and international coaches and players.

The two best performers will then earn all-expenses-paid trips and training stints at leading regional rugby unions.

GAME PLAN

The objective... is to grow the sport, make it more popular and create a demand for people to want to play the sport.

LOW TEO PING, Singapore Rugby Union president

SRU president Low Teo Ping said: "When you host international events of this scale, you need to think of ways to benefit the local community.

"Furthermore, when you involve schoolchildren, you get parents coming into the picture, and that is important.

"If you look at schools which have done well in rugby, they have strong parental support groups."

Low added that more grassroots activities will be held in the lead-up to the Rugby Sevens, such as having star players visit schools when they arrive in Singapore.

The latest announcement is in line with the SRU's aim of making the Singapore Sevens more family-oriented, moving away from what has traditionally been an event associated with alcohol- fuelled merry-making.

Already, there are plans to set aside family zones, which bars alcohol and will have musical acts to entertain children.

Said Low: "The objective at the end of the day is to grow the sport, make it more popular and create a demand for people to want to play the sport."

He is confident that Rugby Singapore and its homegrown partner agencies can achieve their target of a daily crowd of 25,000 at the 55,000-seat National Stadium.

He said: "The idea is to develop homegrown expertise in the organising and marketing aspect of sports events in Singapore."

He hopes that this can be applied in the region.

The World Rugby Sevens Series is making its first appearance here after a decade. The Republic had hosted a leg of the series from 2004-06.

The eight-month competition features the world's top national teams vying in cities such as Cape Town, Las Vegas and Hong Kong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2015, with the headline 'Rugby goes on charm offensive'. Print Edition | Subscribe