S’pore Rugby 7s a homecoming for Wales’ Devine
Born and bred here, he left at 16 to pursue his dreams
The HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens was a momentous occasion for South Africa's Blitzboks, who won the title for the first time in seven editions, but it was also a special tournament for Wales 7s player Cai Devine.
Unknown to many, the 21-year-old Welshman was born and bred in Singapore, where he stayed for 16 years.
He played rugby at Turf City with local club Royals Touch and often ate at 99 Buona Vista Kitchen with his family.
The Singapore Sevens at the National Stadium from April 13-14 became a homecoming of sorts for the 1.90m Devine.
"It was crazy walking around ... after we had finished our games and seeing so many familiar faces," he told The New Paper in an e-mail interview.
"Faces that I hadn't seen in years, faces that have been supporting me and my ambitions since I was young.
"Old teammates, younger siblings of friends, friends of friends, old school teachers. That's what made the Singapore Sevens so special for me."
Devine scored a try to help Wales defeat England 12-0 in one of their pool games, but the Welsh finished third in their pool after losing to the United States and Kenya.
Then they reached the Challenge Trophy semi-finals, where they lost to Scotland.
After the tournament, the Welsh team spent a day at Mega Adventure and the Luge in Sentosa before riding electric scooters around the Central Business District.
Asked what he missed, apart from his family who are still in Singapore, he replied: "Definitely the food. I miss going to hawker centres after school with my mates and having nasi lemak, chicken rice."
BORN IN SINGAPORE
Devine was born in Singapore after his parents moved from London when his dad was offered a job in the pharmaceutical industry.
Upon graduating from the United World College of South East Asia, he decided to move to Wales at the tender age of 16 to chase his rugby dreams.
"My dream of becoming a professional rugby player started when I was very young, and I knew that if I were to make this a reality, I would have to move away," he said.
He landed a scholarship at Llandovery College before continuing his studies at Durham University, where he majors in business management.
Two years ago, Devine made his Wales debut at the Dubai Sevens and has played 71 matches in the rugby series since.
"Playing for Wales has always been my dream and to now be doing it is so surreal," he said.
"The Olympics are coming up next year and I think it'd be awesome to give that a good go."
Rugby runs in the Devine family. His father Robert set up Royals Touch Singapore and has also represented the nation in the 2015 Touch World Cup (Men's 40s).
He is the head coach of the national men's open team taking part in next week's Touch World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
His mother and sister are also in touch rugby. Mum Claire is part of the Singapore women's Under-20 coaching team, while sister Tian turns out for the Singapore U-18 squad.
When asked if he would return to Singapore after finishing his degree, Devine said: "I'm still in the very early stages of my rugby career and I want to chase that with all I've got.
"But who knows - maybe my path will lead me back in the future. It is an incredible place to live and work."