Be inspired like Japan, U-19 rugby coach tells players
Asian team's win over Springboks gives hope to small nations, says S'pore coach Hadizan
Japan gave hope to all smaller rugby nations across the globe with their stunning victory over South Africa at the recent Rugby World Cup.
That grit, concentration and sheer belief can overcome tradition and all the odds, was the message the Japanese men shouted from their mountain top.
It was heard loud and clear here in Singapore and, as the Republic's Under-19 men embark on the week-long Asian Rugby U-19 Championship starting today, that is exactly what head coach Hadizan Jaaman is looking for.
Singapore kick off the four-nation tourney against Sri Lanka today, and will face Taiwan (Wednesday) and hot favourites Hong Kong (Saturday), in a competition that will see the winners earn a spot at April's World Rugby U-20 Trophy in Zimbabwe, with the bottom team losing their place in the second tier of Asian rugby.
"I hope to see the team being 100 per cent focused throughout the tournament and putting up committed performances.
"I want to see the boys carrying the right learning attitude and, as the saying goes, your attitude determines your altitude," said Hadizan.
For Hadizan, the Japan result is an inspiration, especially considering that Singapore will face regional giants Hong Kong, who are looking to qualify for the U-20 Trophy for the third time in a row.
"The coaches and the players realise the past is irrelevant," Hong Kong coach Peter Drewett told the South China Morning Post.
"Teams can change dramatically at this level from one year to the next.
"Because of this, our goal is to focus purely on our own processes and structures. But rugby is about winning things and it is important for us to reach the World Rugby U-20 Trophy, so we make no bones about that being our goal."
It is against this backdrop that Hadizan is gearing his charges, who are looking for a win against Sri Lanka on the opening day to ensure that they do not finish last.
"Hong Kong are surely the tournament favourites," he said.
"As the underdogs in the tournament, I am not looking to match them, but to ensure that our boys make the right decisions and put up their best performance when they face Hong Kong."
"If we can get these right, the result will take care of itself," he added, again focusing on the processes.
The Singapore side have set themselves a target of avoiding relegation, and Hadizan believes his charges are in good stead.
"The team are shaping up very well, especially after our training camp, and every boy knows his responsibilities on the field," he said.
"Our target is to put up the best performance, earn as much bonus points from every game and to stay in this division."
He acknowledged the threat of Sri Lanka as well as Taiwan, both teams that do a lot of running off the ball.
"At the same time, I hope to see all of them enjoying the journey of participating in an international tournament," Hadizan added.
"Their development does not stop after this tournament, and having the right attitude to keep improving will aid in their future development."
Asia Rugby U-19 Championship fixtures (all matches at Yio Chu Kang Stadium)
- 2.30pm: Taiwan v Hong Kong
- 4.30pm: Singapore v Sri Lanka
- 2.30pm: Sri Lanka v Hong Kong
- 4.30pm: Singapore v Taiwan
- 2.30pm: Taiwan v Sri Lanka
- 4.30pm: Singapore v Hong Kong