The 2018 HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens kicks off this weekend, but things are already kicking into high gear with the arrival of rugby legends and stars on our shores and various pre-game activities all around Singapore.
But these legends aren’t untouchable, god-like creatures who feel light years away. They’re just as human as we are, and are more than willing to extend a hand to share and spread their love for the sport all across Asia. HSBC Rugby Ambassador George Gregan is one such person, and was present at the MOE Stadium this week to conduct a rugby clinic for over 100 young girls interested in getting to know the sport, from the perspective of an expert.
Zambia-born Gregan is a former halfback and captain for the Australian national rugby team, and was a vital part of the team that won the Rugby World Cup in 1999. Despite his accolades, Gregan remains incredibly down to earth and enthusiastic that the sport can only continue to grow internationally. Says Gregan: “Even though people don’t historically play a lot of rugby, you see countries like Hong Kong where there’s a big expat community who’re really into the sport. Rugby is one of those sports that easy to learn, easy to coach and it’s so pleasing to see these 100 girls turn up tonight to learn more about the sport.”
Gregan is better known for his roles in standard play of rugby 15s, but emphasises how exiting and fast-paced 7s can be. Says Gregan: “Because of how few people there are on the field, there’s a lot more space. It finishes in less than 20 minutes, and before you know it, there’s another game coming on. It’s a very physically demanding sport, and the teams playing this weekend will be playing up to three matches a day. Sevens is all about spurts of energy – you go as hard as you can, take a break, then burst again. Sevens is really a showcase of how fast and furious rugby can be, and it’s not easy at all, when you’re going at full speed and full contact.”
Gregan continues: “It’s a very exciting development that’s gaining popularity around the world, especially when it was introduced in the Olympics in 2016, when it led to Fiji’s first ever Olympic Gold medal, and people started to see how special it is.”
On just why rugby is a sport that’s easily loved, Gregan explains: “Once you get into it, you start to love everything about it. Anyone can get into rugby, because there’s a place for you to play no matter what size or shape you are. You’ll fall in love with the ability to play and work together, you learn not just contact and passing skills, but communication and teamwork, and the ability to stay positive all the time.”
“At the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens, I really like how they’ve created a family environment amidst the games themselves, and whether you’re enjoying the matches, the concerts, or the entertainment, there’s something for everyone. There’s a lot of focus on growing the game in the region, and with displays like this, we’re able to inspire people and get them interested to learn more about rugby.”
Also present was Tony Lewis, Head of HSBC Securities Services, and a ‘rugby dad’ himself, to two sons both very much into the sport. Says Tony: “Rugby is a community, and we’re constantly looking to bring in potential new players and interest to the sport. The sport of rugby encourages, and expects players to show great teamwork, respect, inclusivity and also an emphasis on personal wellbeing, very much aligned to HSBC’s values.”
On the increasing popularity of rugby, Tony adds: “There’s a lot of individual discipline, physical and mental resilience that can be developed through rugby, as well as a new network of friends and like minded people. It’s been impressive how much the sport has grown since I first arrived in Singapore. Initially there were only two clubs that were open for my sons to join as 8 year olds, now there are more and it’s also great to see more local schools are participating in tournaments. There’s a large number of women and girls involved in all disciplines, and at all levels, so the sport really is for all. The ecosystem creates an environment of encouragement which ensures the sport keeps growing, very well supported by the huge number of volunteers providing mentorship and role model leadership whether coaching, refereeing or helping with administration.”
“We’ve been working very closely with our partners like SRU, STB and the Sports Hub to make this a great event in Singapore. We want to make it a family event to share to a wider audience why it’s a great game, from both a spectator and participation perspective. Whether it’s touch rugby, 7s or contact, mixed, women’s or men’s disciplines, HSBC would love to see the game expand and hope our sponsorship of the Rugby 7s helps to achieve that and provide opportunities for more players, fans and families to get involved.”
Seeing the beaming smiles of the hundred-strong turnout of young players at the clinic as they watched Gregan in action, one can only imagine that the sport will only continue to rise in popularity as the years go by especially with the strong support of HSBC, a long term supporter of rugby and playing that active role in growing the sport and making it more accessibe to the kids around the region. Also with the advent of the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens this weekend, getting bigger by the edition, is all the evidence one needs to see that rugby is here to remain a mainstay for years to come.
The 2018 HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens takes place at the National Stadium from 28th – 29th April 2018 Tickets available here. A brand new ticket offer that gives buyers a discount of between 15 – 21% when purchasing packs of four adult tickets is also available until 29th April, while HSBC card holders can enjoy an additional 5% discount on top of this offer.