Rugby: International Rugby Board keen to host top competitions at Sports Hub

The new National Stadium in Kallang has a major role to play in hosting premier competitions and glamour friendlies as part of the International Rugby Board's (IRB) push to grow the sport across Asia. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
The new National Stadium in Kallang has a major role to play in hosting premier competitions and glamour friendlies as part of the International Rugby Board's (IRB) push to grow the sport across Asia. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

The new National Stadium in Kallang has a major role to play in hosting premier competitions and glamour friendlies as part of the International Rugby Board's (IRB) push to grow the sport across Asia.

In town for the governing body's annual meeting until Thursday night, IRB bigwigs were impressed by the 55,000-seat facility, which opened its doors by hosting the World Club 10s championship in June.

"This fantastic venue is a great opportunity for us to attract big crowds to a rugby match," IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said during a media roundtable on Wednesday afternoon.

"We want to open the door for Asia to get more involved in our sport - everything is on the table, we are even considering buying out certain properties to get more rugby matches on free-to-air television across the region."

By expanding its Get Into Rugby mass participation programme across Asia, the IRB aims to have one million new rugby players across the continent by 2019. In that year, Japan will be the first Asian country to host the prestigious 15s World Cup.

Rugby is also a key part of Singapore's push to be a global sports hub. Besides bidding to host a Super Rugby franchise, the Republic is also hoping to stage a leg of the Sevens World Series from 2016 as well as the Sevens World Cup in 2018.

Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping said: "The future is truly exciting for the game here. We could be seeing regular high-level action, such as the All Blacks and the Wallabies squaring off or our very own Super Rugby team."