Students of East Spring Secondary School practising some rugby drills. They are part of a pilot programme for the ActiveSG Rugby Enrichment Programme. Photo: SportSG
Rugby fever has arrived in town, and it won’t just be the national players and international stars who will be privy to the action; our youth have already gotten their first taste of the sport with the ActiveSG Rugby Enrichment Programme.
Riding on the wave of the inaugural HSBC Singapore Rugby 7s, ActiveSG has teamed up with SportCares Foundation (SportCares) and the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) to launch this 30-week pilot programme at East Spring Secondary School.
Besides teaching life values through rugby to youth as well as spreading awareness of the game, the programme also hopes to dispel misconceptions about the sport’s supposedly violent nature.
Beginning with simple drills on passing and catching, in addition to modified games, 14 East Spring Secondary School students have been training for the past three weeks under the supervision of coaches from the SRU.
Students of East Spring Secondary School receiving instructions from a SRU coach as part of the ActiveSG Rugby Enrichment Programme. Photo: SportSG
These budding rugby players will progress to more advanced moves during subsequent sessions, such as how to tackle, ruck, and scrum.
“Hopefully the interest catches on to the [rest of the] school and the students, who will probably go up to their teacher or their principal and say, could we make this a CCA? And that will be a bonus for us,” explained SRU General Manager George Danapal.
“It’s about getting more numbers, growing our base, and creating that awareness of rugby in Singapore.”
Naturally, as with all sports, the life skills that one may gain from rugby are not lost on the programme’s organisers, who have also weaved important lessons on character development into the programme.
“They [the students] go to the same school, but they don't necessarily know each other very well. They have some common interests, and their interest in rugby is new. So this teaches them to work with people they don't know well. It’s a value that will serve you well in life. Of course, it also teaches them resilience and discipline,” shared Laura Reid, Deputy Director, SportCares.
“We hope that the school will be able to put this [programme] forward as an exemplar, and begin to use this as a way to highlight that when sport is – in this case, rugby – designed in this way, [it] is an experiential programme for character development, an experiential programme on learning life skills that they will apply to their studies, that they will apply beyond their time here in schools,” added Sport Singapore’s Chief Executive Officer Lim Teck Yin.
Addressing the misconceptions surrounding the sport and concerns about the potential injuries that the players may sustain while on the pitch, Danapal noted: [Rugby] is a contact sport, and it has dangerous elements. But the safety aspects of the sport are coached very vigorously.”
“In fact, what rugby teaches are the basics in life: Falling down, how to fall down properly, how to break your fall, and how to get up.”
Happy faces on these students from East Spring Secondary, part of a group of 14, who have embarked on the 30-week pilot programme. Photo: SportSG
One of the East Spring Secondary students, 14-year-old John Legaspi enthused: “Rugby is quite physical and tough for us. But through it, we’ve all learnt the importance of resilience.”
With plans in place to grow this programme and, by extension, the sport, ActiveSG hopes to keep reaching out to other schools in Singapore in order to engage more students and increase awareness.
As Laura Reid postulated: “Rugby is not universally played in Singapore the way football is. But that doesn't mean that it can’t grow. In fact, it just means that there is room for growth!”