Rugby: Singapore's reputation as a rugby hub growing

Siyamthanda Kolisi of Stormers (centre) runs with the ball during the Super Rugby match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Stormers of South Africa in Singapore on March 25, 2017.
Siyamthanda Kolisi of Stormers (centre) runs with the ball during the Super Rugby match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Stormers of South Africa in Singapore on March 25, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

After HSBC 7s, Super Rugby & Test matches, teams may stop here on way to World Cup

Singapore's strategic location has always been the country's killer app and with the Sports Hub having successfully hosted top-class rugby events, the Republic is building a reputation as a destination for the globe's best egg-chasers.

That includes its growing identity as an ideal rest station for teams en route to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping noted yesterday: "In the context of all these - hosting the (HSBC Rugby) Sevens, the Test match (Scotland v Italy) and the Super Rugby games (for Sunwolves), we are promoting this part of the world to the sport and we want to grow our union.

"Singapore has achieved a certain level of respect for its facilities after hosting the sevens and Super Rugby events. The world's best teams now know that we have a wonderful stadium and we are a safe country.

"This could be the possible venue for teams like Argentina, South Africa or a European team to get over jet lag on their way to Japan."

Low, who is also the president of the Sentosa Golf Club, used the Serapong course, ranked 58th in Golf Digest's list of the World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses, as a comparison.

The greens have hosted golf stars like Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott over the years at the Singapore Open.

"Similarly, Serapong has held successful tournaments and inevitably, people recognise it," he said.

On June 10, the National Stadium will host its first Test match when Scotland (world No. 5) play Italy (No. 15).

At a press conference to announce details of the fixture, Low also took the opportunity to reveal that in December, Kallang could host another Test match involving a Tier 1 team each from the Northern Hemisphere (England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales) and the Southern Hemisphere (Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa).

"What we are doing is also to develop our skills in event management," he added. "There are a lot of SOPs involved in such events, which are televised globally, and the standards are very high."

Luigi Troiani, team manager for the Azzurris, said: "This is a good base for us to prepare for the 2019 World Cup. Next year we have a tour in Japan, so we might want another match in Singapore before that. Singapore has all the facilities to help us prepare for Japan."

Scottish Rugby chief operating officer Dominic McKay added that the Bravehearts will not be holding anything back in Singapore, saying: "Our team are currently fifth in the world, our highest-ever ranking. When we come here, we will do our very best to win."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore growing as rugby hub'. Print Edition | Subscribe