Rugby: Raffles Institution boys perform Haka for visiting Maori All Blacks

The visiting Maori All Blacks rugby team take around 100 youngsters through their paces during a coaching session at Raffles Institution. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
The visiting Maori All Blacks rugby team take around 100 youngsters through their paces during a coaching session at Raffles Institution. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

It was a sight to behold: some of New Zealand's most formidable rugby players standing on a school field in Bishan. And as the Maori All Blacks looked on, 70 Raffles Institution (RI) students performed the Haka war cry, made famous by the all-conquering New Zealand rugby teams over the years.

The traditional dance lasted all of one minute, but RI's A Division team captain Shant Sin will not forget it for the rest of his life.

"It's a dream come true to perform such a historic and important dance in front of a true All Blacks outfit," said the 17-year-old, breathless and beaming after leading his troops during the rendition.

It was then the turn of the Maori All Blacks to strut their stuff, conducting an hour-long coaching clinic which was organised by All Blacks global sponsor AIG. Later, the team broke out into a hearty rendition of a Maori folk song and obliged autograph and selfie requests from the wide-eyed youngsters.

The squad - which features the best New Zealand players of Maori descent - are in town for a three-day promotional trip, which was shortened after their Nov 15 clash against the invitational Asia Pacific Dragons at the National Stadium was cancelled due to the poor state of the field.

Maori All Blacks captain Charlie Ngatai said: "We're having a lovely time in Singapore. It's a pity the game got canned but meeting kids and spreading the message of rugby is just as important for us."

Peter Van Zyl, AIG’s chief agency officer for South-east Asia, said: “Rugby is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and is rising in popularity in many Asian countries, including Singapore, and we’re thrilled to be in a position to be able to support the rugby development of these school students."

The all-star team will train the Singapore national squad, as well as selected students from neighbourhood schools such as Endeavour Primary and Regent Secondary, at the Padang from 4.30pm on Monday. The session is open to the public for free.