The Japanese team poses with the champion's trophy and ARFU trophy. (Photo by VOXSPORTS)
The Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) HSBC Rugby Singapore Sevens 2013 finally came to a close. The tournament was held over the span of two days from the November 9th - November 10th.
Many of the region’s best rugby talents gathered at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium to fight it out for the coveted ARFU HSBC Rugby 7S trophy. The two days of breathtaking rugby action definitely entertained audiences who were there to witness the tournament.
On day one, top seeds and tournament favorites Japan and Hong Kong remained undefeated with both teams putting on imperious displays of speed, power and agility. The top seeds proved to be in excellent form as their defensive brick wall prevented their opponents from scoring. Their defensive wall was well organised, making it difficult for their opponents to bypass. Hong Kong, also the series champion for two years running beat China 10 - 0 and host Singapore 36 - 0 while series leader Japan breezed through a 31 - 0 and 54 - 0 win over Chinese Taipei and Thailand respectively.
Despite the prowess of top seeded teams Japan and Hong Kong, crowds in the stands were awaiting for the local team to take the field and finally show their stuff with local supporters and mascot, Nila in attendance to lend their vocal support.
On the first day of the pool, Singapore was matched against China. The local lads fought a hard game and they managed to maintain a 14 - 12 lead in the first few minutes of the first half. However, China came back strong in the second half putting the game away 24 - 12. The local team then moved on to the Bowl semi-finals on day two where they delivered a clean sheet victory against Indonesia 29 - 0. Singapore fell short of the Bowl Championship trophy as Thailand’s relentless offence forced Singapore into a defensive stance. Being unable to handle the offence, Singapore was ousted into a 18 - 5 lost over Thailand resulting in a 10th place finish in the series.
After the series ended for the local team, Inoke Afeaki, Head Coach of Team Singapore Rugby said, “Well, I’m pretty disappointed with the positioning but the boys did well out there. I was at the hotel yesterday after our 36 - 0 lost to Hong Kong and a Japanese lady came up to me and said the boys showed a really great fight. It’s nice to hear that from her because she comes from the samurai culture, “Even if you lose, you fight till the death”. I shared that moment with the boys and they were really heartened by it!” Inoke aspires the team would be able to make the S.E.A games but he feels that some organizations may not have the faith in them to win especially after the standings in this tournament.
Finally, it was time for the cup finals and favourites Japan and Hong Kong were set to match up against one another. In a game that was filled with robust and strong tackles and scrums, Japan scored the first try in the game but was quickly brushed by the Hong Kong offence which ended the first half 19 - 5. However, team Japan displayed their samurai fighting spirit which led them into a miraculous comeback. Japan scored a barrage of tries in the last 10 minutes of the game to clinch the win of 24 - 19.
Tomohiro Segawa, Head Coach of Japan said, “At halftime, I just told the boys to try their best and not give up. I was rather unsure of the victory but I’m glad we were able to pull it off. Now our goal is to clinch the championship trophy in the world series!”
Finishing at the top two in the series, Japan and Hong Kong have now qualified for the HSBC Seven Series World qualifier tournament with the chance of qualifying into the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Seven World Series.
This concludes the two days of entertaining action packed rugby, for more information about the results and standings of other matches, do visit http://www.asian5nations.com/.