Singapore rugby captains eye first SEA 7s wins

Max Ducourneau (in red) was part of the Singapore rugby sevens team that clinched bronze at last year's SEA Games. The team will be hoping to improve on that showing at the inaugural Southeast Asia 7s tournament in April.
Max Ducourneau (in red) was part of the Singapore rugby sevens team that clinched bronze at last year's SEA Games. The team will be hoping to improve on that showing at the inaugural Southeast Asia 7s tournament in April.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Making amends will be on national rugby captain Daniel Marc Chow's mind when he leads his team in the inaugural Southeast Asia Sevens (SEA 7s) tournament in April.

Singapore were denied a place in last year's SEA Games final on goal difference and the disappointment still rankles, even after almost a year.

At yesterday's launch of the SEA 7s, Chow, 31, believes this tournament is a chance to make amends.

He said, "We've lost a number of players to retirement since the SEA Games and in terms of age and experience, it's lacking a bit. But that's no excuse and we are going into the tournament with the belief that we can win it."

The April 15-16 competition, endorsed by World Rugby and the Asia Rugby Football Union, will feature eight countries in the men's division and six in the women's.

It will be held during the same week as the HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens, which yesterday announced Volvo and Pan Pacific Singapore as its official car and hotel sponsor.

There will be 28 pool matches on April 15, held at Yio Chu Kang Stadium with free admission. Both finals will be the next day at the National Stadium and will require a valid HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens ticket for entry.

Said Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping: "The SEA 7s is a key pillar in promoting the game of rugby sevens in the region and is a platform for players around the region to not only compete, but learn from each other and from the best in the world during the Singapore Sevens."

Organisers of the HSBC Singapore Sevens are targeting crowds of 26,000 for each day and the prospect of playing in front of such numbers is a rare opportunity, noted women's captain Alvinia Ow, 28, who led her side to a silver medal at the SEA Games last year.

The Republic lost that final 0-39 to Thailand and will likely start as underdogs should they face their arch-rivals in the final.

"The SEA 7s will be our first tournament for this year so there might be some rustiness but we are determined to put on a good show for the local supporters," said Ow.

With rugby sevens being included in the initial shortlist of 34 sports to be featured at next year's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, a strong showing by both teams will be a welcome boost of confidence.

Said Chow: "We had tremendous support at last year's SEA Games tournament and our aim is to qualify for the SEA 7s final.

"It will be a dream if we can ignite the Kallang Roar and win the tournament in front of the home fans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore rugby captains eye first SEA 7s wins'. Print Edition | Subscribe