By hosting the HSBC World Rugby, Sevens, Chairman of Rugby Singapore, Low Teo Ping, 71, hopes to take rugby in Singapore to a new level.
Said Low, “We last hosted the Rugby Sevens in Singapore, ten years ago. But now we decided to do something about trying to bring rugby back to Singapore – it was very much dictated by the fact that we have the SportsHub, an iconic stadium that is second to none in the world. So we took it at a union level – The union was the rights holder for the event and we felt that if we were to host it, we should not do it purely for the sake of making money even though that is one of the driving forces.”
HSBC SEVENS WILL HELP RUGBY GROW IN SINGAPORE
He added, “We decided that the tournament should go to helping rugby development in Singapore and grow the sport in Singapore, to get more people to be interested and involved in rugby in this region. So we approached the government with our master plan and they were receptive towards it.”
These values were shared by Low, during the Asian Rugby Conference held recently. The World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasett and the Asia Rugby President Koji Tokumasu also spoke at the conference.
SINGAPOREANS CAN BENEFIT FROM RUGBY VALUES
Low, a former rugby player himself during his school days, has always had a passion for the sport and today he strongly feels that Singaporeans can benefit from rugby, not simply because it is a sport but because of the values that rugby inculcates.
Explained Low “We believe rugby, with its tremendous characteristics and values – especially whereby no rugby player questions the referee – has a place in our school curriculum so we wanted to get involved in hosting a world class rugby event and inspire our young school age rugby players.”
Low continued, “So in conjunction with this event, we held the Under-14s tournament for boys over the last few weeks and the two teams making it to the final – Anglo Chinese School (Independent) and Raffles Institution, will be playing today on the exact same pitch that the 16 best rugby teams in the world are using. That is really part of growing the sport in Singapore and inculcating aspiration for rugby amongst more Singaporeans.”
World Rugby Chairman Lapassei added that in Japan, the sport is currently being used as a strong educational tool for youngsters – which is in line with what Singapore aspires to become.
Said Lapassei “For example, Japanese rugby programmes use strong educational tools to help their people to grow. But to really bring the local rugby scene to the next level, it is important to step it up and what I can say to Singapore is that if they do that, they can grow together with us.”
He added, “This is also where Asia has the advantage compared to many Western countries – I feel that the Asian people have similar values that are in line with what rugby inculcates – that we respect people and we have the inbuilt discipline that is required for the sport.”
HOPES TO HELP SINGAPORE’S REGIONAL NEIGHBOURS TO BENEFIT TOO
But that is not all – Low also hopes to improve the rugby landscape in the region through organising events like the SouthEast Asia Sevens which features rugby teams from the region such as Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Said Low “Both the male and female teams from around the region played their hearts out last Friday at the Yio Chu Kang stadium, with the top two teams being rewarded yesterday with an appearance on the same pitch at the Singapore National Stadium. Try and understand where we are coming from – To grow the sport, we want our neighbours to work with us. The last time we want is to be too competitive and end up sparring with each other as a result.”
DEVELOP THE HSBC RUGBY SEVENS INTO A WORLD CLASS SPORTS EVENT
At the national level, Low hopes to develop the Singapore leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens into a world class event such as the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix and the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Finals Singapore.
He said, “We feel that these events should be very much part and parcel of the sports landscape in Singapore to develop Singapore as a global sporting city. So this event is not just by the Singapore Rugby Union – it is a national event to put Singapore on the world map because the broadcast will be taking place over the next two days and will over millions of people worldwide watching keenly the action taking place in Singapore. And the National Stadium will be a real showpiece too.”
Added Low “And it will not only be Singaporeans coming down to support the HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens – some of our friends from the surrounding countries in the region will be coming too as well as rugby fans from all over the world. So we believe that this event can really have a tremendous economic impact on Singapore.”