S'pore tipped to host sevens World Cup

Given the popularity of rugby in Singapore and the facilities available, there is "absolutely no reason" the Republic cannot host the Rugby World Cup Sevens, according to former Fiji coach Ben Ryan.

The Englishman, who guided the Pacific island nation to its first Olympic gold at the inaugural rugby sevens competition in Rio de Janeiro last year, added: "You've got an increasing local population interested in the game, with the Sunwolves games being here.

"With the rise of sevens in Asia, places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai would be excellent venues to have a big global tournament."

The South China Morning Post reported last week that Hong Kong will consider bidding for the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens when World Rugby, the sport's governing body, invites tenders next year.

The quadriennial event, which includes both the men's and women's competitions, will be held in San Francisco over three days in July next year.

In comparison to its 15s counterpart - the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan takes place from Sept 20 to Nov 2 - the hosting logistics is far less demanding.

Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping said the possibility of bidding to host the Rugby World Cup Sevens is "on our radar".

But he added: "We haven't decided whether we want to go ahead with it yet, as we have to ensure that we have the appropriate facilities to do this. Having one stadium alone is not good enough because there will be both men's and women's teams, so we have to think about it carefully before making any decision."

Still, Ryan was effusive in his praise of the Republic's hosting of the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens.

"(The Singapore Sevens) is a nice change-up from Hong Kong, which is 100 miles an hour," said the 45-year-old, who is in town as an HSBC ambassador.

"It's more chilled out here and the boys can have a bit more time to get their breath back from Hong Kong and also produce a good performance this weekend in Singapore... We're all very lucky to be able to say there's a world series tournament that's here in Singapore."

Ryan was here as Fiji's coach last year, when the event returned to Singapore after a nine-year absence, and he believes his former charges, together with series leaders South Africa, will be "right there near the end" of the tournament. But he cautioned against underestimating sides like the United States and Canada.

"I enjoy watching the US play... but I think the most improved team this year is Canada," he said. "They are right up there with the top guys, and I've really been impressed with them."

Nicole Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore tipped to host sevens World Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe