Afeaki: rugby must resonate

11 November, 2012   Felicia Quick

They may not have earned a place in the top 3 of the HSBC Asian Rugby 7s that would have qualified them for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Moscow, but the Singapore Rugby team emerged from 2 days of intense competition with their heads held high.
They have every right to do so, after fighting their way through world-class teams like Japan and landing themselves in a close fight with China in the Plate semi-finals, which they lost by a single touchdown.
Coach Inoke Afeaki was proud of the team’s efforts and believes the exposure would do his players a world of good. “This is an experience for them definitely, playing against some of the world’s best teams,” he told “I am satisfied with the boys finishing in 8th place overall out of the 12 teams that participated.”
Afeaki, who is also Technical Director at the Singapore Rugby Union, believes that more can be done to promote Rugby as a sport in Singapore. He feels although there are many young and talented players at school level, a lack of promotion and some common misconceptions about the sport has seen the country lag behind other nations to date.
He added, “Some think it is too exclusive and a sport for artisans only, but rugby has to resonate with Singaporeans if we wish to develop into one of the stronger rugby nations.”
Indeed, rugby has come a long way since colonial times in modern day Singapore. This aggressive sport has seen many injuries throughout the years but despite all that, it has shown its beauty to lovers of the sport all-around the globe.  
Yet despite its obvious appeal, this beautiful game has been perceived to be a ‘blood-thirsty’ sport for ruffians – a sport which would definitely ring alarm bells for some of the overly protective parents living in Singapore.
Looking at how the game was played at the SCC Rugby 7s over the weekend, it reminded me of a game I used to play when I was a child. A cross between ‘catching’ and ‘dog n’ bone’ that involved a lot more teamwork and training. The skill of the players and the artistry of movement involved made it most interesting to watch.
While I still hold some reservations about rugby as a family wholesome sport, and feel that it may not be for everyone, it has impressed upon me that if anyone were to pick up a rugby ball and make an attempt to play this game they would have an immense amount of fun. Of course, not without a scraped knee or two.