Rugby festival in store for Singapore fans next year
Singapore fans can expect top-draw action from Super Rugby and S'pore Sevens next year
Singapore is gearing up to host top-class rugby action from March to May next year.
Yesterday, the dates of the three Super Rugby games that will be held at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium at the Sports Hub were announced.
The Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU), who had pipped Singapore to become the first Asian franchise in the prestigious Super Rugby competition last October, announced it would play three "home" games here, following an agreement with the SRU and Sports Hub.
Fittingly, after their historic 34-32 win over South Africa at the Rugby World Cup 10 days, the new Japanese outfit will play three South African sides in Singapore; the Cheetahs (March 12), Bulls (March 26) and Stormers (May 14).
With the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens scheduled at the National Stadium on April 16 and 17, it means local fans will have a rugby feast right at their doorstep.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, SRU general manager George Danapal said: "It's a fantastic opportunity for the local audience.
"We are getting two forms of the game - the Sevens and the normal 15-a-side - and both are at the highest level. We've never had this before.
"Next year being an Olympics year, all the sevens teams will be bringing their big guns as they also prepare for the Games.
"Super Rugby, meanwhile, is basically the top club rugby competition in the world."
Next year's Super Rugby competition has been expanded to 18 teams, with an Argentinian franchise and South African outfit, the Southern Kings, joining the Japanese side as the new clubs.
Last month, it was reported that the expansion was under threat because of Japan's slow progress in recruiting players and a coach for a competitive team.
After yesterday's announcement by Sanzar, Super Rugby's governing body, it looks like all systems go, as Singapore looks set to gain from the visit of the franchises, who are likely to conduct coaching clinics and referee-training sessions.
Local players could also be embedded in the Japanese team while they train in Singapore, a collaboration made possible through a five-year accord signed by the SRU and JRFU last November.
It is understood that SRU chief Low Teo Ping, who is in London for the ongoing Rugby World Cup, will meet with JRFU officials for further discussion on the details of the deal.
Said Danapal: "I can't really divulge too much at this stage, but it's definitely going to be positive for all involved in rugby in Singapore, from coaches, players to spectators.
"What's most important for us, is firstly, the transference of knowledge from the Japanese and South African sides, and secondly, to fuel the ambition of our youth and get them to aspire for something greater."
Brendan Morris, Sanzar's interim chief executive, believes that fans can look forward to the upcoming season with optimism and enthusiasm.
He said: "We are in the envious position to be delivering our great brand of rugby to new cities and international markets, unlocking a host of commercial opportunities and delivering the unbridled excitement of Super Rugby to a legion of new and existing fans."
- Super Rugby matches in Singapore
- HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens
- National Stadium
- March 12 (Sat)
Japan v Cheetahs (S Africa)
- March 26 (Sat)
Japan v Bulls (S Africa)
- May 14 (Sat)
Japan v Stormers (S Africa)
- April 16 (Sat) and 17 (Sun)