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Olympics: Wang to ensure rugby 7s teams toe the line

National women's rugby coach Wang Shao-Ing may not be leading a team in Brazil, but instead she will be acting as a judicial officer for the rugby sevens competition.
National women's rugby coach Wang Shao-Ing may not be leading a team in Brazil, but instead she will be acting as a judicial officer for the rugby sevens competition.

Singapore may not be a rugby giant, yet the Republic will have a significant role to play when rugby sevens makes its debut at the Olympics next week.

National women's rugby coach Wang Shao-Ing has been appointed the event's sole judicial officer.

In her role, she is tasked with ensuring clean gameplay for all 76 matches - both the men's and women's events - in the three-day competition from Aug 10-12.

She has the authority to determine disciplinary matters arising from players who receive a red card, or when there is a foul a referee fails to spot.

Wang, 39, admitted that when she received the invitation in March, it was a surprise as she felt there were other more worthy contenders for the job.

She said: "I was in disbelief at first. There are over 200 judicial officers they could have chosen, some of them are distinguished people like judges and former judges. I'm really humbled to be appointed."

But she is not exactly new to the role, having officiated at two stops of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this year, in Singapore and the most prestigious round in Hong Kong.

"I think the Olympics will have less pressure as I am given more time in between the matches to make decisions." she said.

 

"But the stakes are higher. I'm going there as a professional and it's quite scary. The players whom you see on TV, these are professional players. You know that your decision would affect them at the end, on whether they would be suspended or not, or suspended for how many games."

Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping, also the country's chef de mission in Rio, added: "It is an honour and a recognition of both Shao-Ing and Singapore rugby."

While her charges train for the Asia Rugby Women's Sevens Series next month, Wang will be all business in Brazil. She leaves for Rio tomorrow and will depart on Aug 13, a day after the sevens competition ends.

She said: "I don't think I'll feel excited until I really reach Rio. But it's going to be 'touch-and-go' for me. I'm just going to go there for the Games, do my job, and come back to join the team for training (sessions). I cannot be away for too long."

Additional reporting by Jonathan Wong

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'Wang to ensure rugby 7s teams toe the line'. Print Edition | Subscribe