Rugby: Fans hope Singapore stays in Sevens family

PHOTO COURTESY OF FRASER JAMIESON

Family-friendly leg has unique appeal for some, who want to keep coming beyond 2019

Come next weekend, Fraser Jamieson will dust off his costume - a little Scotsman in a kilt - throw it on, and make his way down to the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens.

And like last year, he expects to see his two teenage daughters at the National Stadium "only when they run out of money for food".

Being able to focus on the action with his mates, with the knowledge that his children are having fun in a safe environment, is one of the key reasons why he hopes that the Republic will continue hosting a leg of the world series when its four-year contract expires after the 2019 edition.

"If you want to drink, you can. You can have a crew of lads, with their wives and kids, even come in fancy dress if you want. You can do as little or as much as you want - and still have access to the world-class sevens," said the Scot, who has lived in Singapore for six years.

His main point of comparison is the Hong Kong Sevens which he has attended 19 times.

"Singapore is more family-oriented, while Hong Kong is more of a party, and is pretty hardcore. I probably don't remember half of those 19 times I was there," said Jamieson, who has been to five Rugby World Cups and the Tokyo Sevens before it was dropped in 2016, as well as the Bledisloe Cup.

"I hope World Rugby sees this as a growing area, because it will be a great loss if Singapore loses it."

THUMBS UP

Singapore is on the right track by targeting families. Families are the core, the rest of them (fans) will come.

FRASER JAMIESON, Scottish rugby aficionado who will turn up in a little-Scotsman-in-kilt costume, approves of the Singapore Sevens organisers' focus.

It is a sentiment shared by Richard Smith, who has also travelled around the world to watch rugby.

"Each stop offers something different for me," the Englishman told The Straits Times on the sidelines of the April 7-8 Hong Kong Sevens.

" Singapore is lovely, it's a magnificent air-cooled stadium with a dome, and set in a great location too - it's easy to get in and out.

"Hong Kong is more renowned, but Singapore has a friendlier atmosphere. It would be a shame if it doesn't manage to keep the sevens.

"I have some special memories there. I met my girlfriend the day before the sevens two years ago."

Smith believes that Hong Kong might be a victim of its own success, with ticket prices rising by another 8 per cent this year to HK$1,950 (S$328). A standard Singapore pass costs only $220, with various discounts available.

He said: "It's almost impossible to get a Hong Kong ticket and it's expensive too.

"In Singapore, you get value for money, and world-class rugby."

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper told ST that there are 20 cities vying to host the 10 legs of the series from 2020.

Even though Fijian fan Viliame Talalima's own country is looking to host a leg, he will consider watching the series in Singapore.

Said the 25-year-old: "I remember watching Fiji at the (Rio de Janeiro) Olympic final, and the goosebumps when we won the gold medal. We're a tiny country and rugby means everything to the people. It will be fantastic to host the sevens.

"I watch it on TV all the time, so I decided to come to Hong Kong. It is great. This is really where the world comes to watch sevens rugby.

"I know Singapore won't have that kind of atmosphere, but I'd definitely go there to catch the rugby. Singapore does a good job at organising events."

•For more information and to buy tickets, go to www.singapore7s.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2018, with the headline 'Fans hope singapore stays in Sevens family'. Print Edition | Subscribe