Singaporean Ruggers wanted

Above: Global Rapid Rugby founder Andrew Forrest's vision is to spread the love of rugby across Asia. Left: The Singapore-based Asia Pacific Dragons (in red) battling Australia's Western Force in their Global Rapid Rugby match last Sunday at Queensto
The Singapore-based Asia Pacific Dragons (in red) battling Australia's Western Force in their Global Rapid Rugby match last Sunday at Queenstown Stadium. Western Force won 7-3. ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG
Above: Global Rapid Rugby founder Andrew Forrest's vision is to spread the love of rugby across Asia. Left: The Singapore-based Asia Pacific Dragons (in red) battling Australia's Western Force in their Global Rapid Rugby match last Sunday at Queensto
Global Rapid Rugby founder Andrew Forrest's vision is to spread the love of rugby across Asia. ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

Asia Pacific Dragons on the lookout for more locals for 2020 Global Rapid Rugby season

The Singapore-based Asia Pacific Dragons lost 7-3 to Australia's Western Force in their last Global Rapid Rugby match last Sunday, without a Singaporean player in their squad.

The team's founder, Jon Phelps, hopes that will change when the tournament launches next year.

His goal is to bring in more local players, he said before their final showcase series match at Queenstown Stadium.

"Being based in Singapore is without a doubt about providing a professional rugby pathway for local players," he said.

"If we stay here long enough, our ambitions are for Singaporeans to come, train, play and be in a professional environment which will be good for them.

"It will take some time for them to get better but they will."

Their current squad feature players from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and a Singapore international, 26-year-old Declan Martens.

CREATING A LEGACY

When you play as a kid, rugby stays in your DNA and, with a professional team here, we hope they will look at us and say, 'I want to be a Dragon'.

'' JON PHELPS, Asia Pacific Dragons founder, hopes to provide a professional pathway for local players.

Despite the lack of local talent in his current squad, Phelps, 49, is confident of attracting young players.

He said: "There's a big rugby fan base here, especially in local schools like ACS (Anglo-Chinese School), St Andrew's and Raffles who have been playing rugby for a long time.

"When you play as a kid, rugby stays in your DNA and, with a professional team here, we hope they will look at us and say, 'I want to be a Dragon'.

"Young kids need to meet their heroes and, if we create heroes for them who are accessible, they will want to stay in the game and be like them. This way, you get continuity as well."

Phelps' aim of developing the sport here dovetails with Global Rapid Rugby founder Andrew Forrest's vision for his new tournament, which features six teams this season - including the invitational World XV.

Forrest, 58, said: "I want to see a common game across Asia for children, men, women to make the community stronger and give you a sense of pride. Rugby can deliver that.

"The community binds together because people love team sports. They love the camaraderie and friendship there that you don't get in individual sports. You get this celebration of humanity in team sports."

The new tournament features modified rugby rules - playing time is reduced while rolling substitutions are introduced, along with the power try - a nine-point play that starts from the defensive 22m line and ends with a try scored.

Forrest said: "Making it faster will give the audience a different experience as it's more exciting.

"And, with more action in one game, I hope this becomes the grand master of Asian team sports."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2019, with the headline 'Singaporean Ruggers wanted'. Print Edition | Subscribe