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Rugby: South-east Asia Sevens returns after five years

SINGAPORE - Local fans are set for a rugby extravganza next week, when the South-east Asia (SEA) Sevens returns to Singapore to feature alongside the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens.

The regional tournament was last held here in 2018 and will feature men’s and women’s teams from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Laos, along with specially invited team Chinese Taipei.

The group matches will be held on April 7 at the Jurong West Stadium, with the finals for the men and women to be played a day after at the National Stadium alongside the prestigious Singapore Rugby Sevens, which will be held on the same weekend.

The Singapore Rugby Union (SRU), which organises the SEA Sevens, is hopeful that the event will help in the push for rugby sevens to be included as a permanent sport in the SEA Games.

Introduced as an exhibition sport in 2005, it was omitted from the 2021 Hanoi SEA Games as well as the upcoming edition in Cambodia in May. The Singapore men’s and women’s teams medalled at both the 2015 and 2017 Games.

SRU vice president Martin Williams said: “We have a plan and structure in place, our ultimate goal is to target the SEA Games and Asian Games, it is great to see the progress we have made since 2019.”

The SEA Sevens will also help the Singapore teams in their preparations ahead of the top-flight Asian Rugby Sevens Series, which will pit them against the likes of Japan, Korea and China between August to October, and September’s Asian Games in Hangzhou.

National team head coach Suhaimi Amran said: “Having an international competition on top of the existing structure is always great for developing both the team and individual players. This is especially critical in our objective of developing teams that can win at regional levels.

“Having a home tournament of such a level can only aid us in preparations for major games like the SEA and Asian Games.” 

Admission to the SEA Sevens group and semi-final matches on April 7 is free.