Rugby: Gene Tong to mentor Singapore's rugby coaches

DANIEL MARC CHOW, national rugby player, on Gene Tong, the Singapore Rugby Union's latest addition to the team.
DANIEL MARC CHOW, national rugby player, on Gene Tong, the Singapore Rugby Union's latest addition to the team.

He takes over as SRU's technical director as new leaders' emphasis is on high-performance measures

Less than a month after a watershed election, the new-look Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) leadership yesterday made its first significant move by appointing Gene Tong as the association's new technical director.

The former national player takes over from Tongan Inoke Afeaki, who was hired in 2013 and vacated the role last month.

As technical director, Tong will be responsible for the development and implementation of high-performance structures for the national teams. He will also mentor local coaches with the collective aim of improving the on-field performance of Singapore rugby.

"I am extremely proud yet humbled to take on the role as SRU technical director. We have a good pool of talented and skilled players who have the potential to do even better," said Tong.

"Our aim is to improve the quality of rugby across all levels, from grassroots through to the national teams, and also implement high-performance measures which will improve our performances for the upcoming SEA Games and the 2018 Asian Games."

Singapore won a silver medal (women's) and bronze (men's) at the 2015 Singapore Games and will compete in both events at the Aug 19-30 edition in Kuala Lumpur.

Tong, 43, is also targeting promotion back into Division 1 of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series for the men's national sevens side. They finished fourth out of 11 teams in this year's qualifiers, with only first-placed Philippines gaining entry into the main series, which starts in September.

THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB

He's been in coaching for quite some time now and his knowledge will be very relevant to today's game.

DANIEL MARC CHOW, national rugby player, on Gene Tong, the Singapore Rugby Union's latest addition to the team.

He was previously head coach of the national women's sevens team for more than a decade.

National player and lock Daniel Marc Chow said he was looking forward to seeing how Tong can improve the coaching and standard of local rugby. "He's been in coaching for quite some time now and his knowledge will be very relevant to today's game," said the former national captain.

Tong's appointment comes on the back of SRU president Terence Khoo taking the helm after the June 20 election.

Then, Khoo - the SRU's first new president in 11 years - had pledged to improve the national teams' performances, saying that he had been "less than excited" by past results.

Yesterday, he added: "Gene has very good credentials and understands our playing style, our strengths and limitations. He will give us clarity about our capabilities, and has already been helping to review our (national team) selection criteria."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Tong to mentor rugby coaches'. Print Edition | Subscribe