The HSBC Singapore Rugby 7s has been to Singapore enough times to establish itself as one of the premier sporting events year after year. And with the 2018 edition, the National Stadium once again played host to the event, welcoming the world’s best international players onto the pitch as they arrived for the eighth stage of their world tour.
Unlike the traditional Rugby 15s, Rugby Sevens is played by just seven player-strong teams, fully utilising the same full-size pitch as a regular game. Each game consists of two seven minute halves, making for matches that focus more on explosive action and bursts of energy, characterised by unpredictability and fast, furious play.
Although targeted at rugby fans, Rugby 7s has always been carnival-esque in nature, attracting fans and their families to come join in all of the festivities on match day. At the HSBC Singapore Rugby 7s, this was no different, with thousands of families descending upon the stadium to take part in all the festival had to offer, from delectable international food at the ‘Makan Hub’, to bouncy castles and character meet and greets.
No doubt this is an event that will create many new fans of the sport, and if anything, makes for the perfect family weekend out. Before the semi-final match, classic pop supergroup Village People even made an appearance and got the blood rushing as they sang familiar, recognizable classics such as Macho Man, Go West and YMCA as families danced through the evening and celebrated the return of the 7s.
Each and every match is characterised by explosive action and excitement, and matches such as the Fiji-South Africa matchup really showcased the unpredictability and lightning fast nature of the 7s. Although South Africa started off well, coming out ahed with two early tries, Fiji turned the entire match around and made it to the pulsating semi finals, with a 12-10 win.
Other highlights of the day included the clash of titans South Africa and England, with end to end action pitting the two powerhouses against each other for third and fourth placing. In facing each other, England was initially down by 10 points in the first four minutes, but in a game that showed how quick the 7s was, the lead changed four times in the first half alone, showcasing how rapid and exciting the match was, with England finally emerging the winner.
Of course, the finals were the most nailbiting match of them all with fan favourite Fiji up against Australia, dividing the crowds into two. In the first half, Fiji started strong, racing to a 14 point lead within the first couple of minutes. But Australia were not about to be defeated, and came back with two quick tries, narrowing the point gap to end the fist half with Fiji in the lead at 14-10.
In the second half of the match, Fiji went straight to a 21-10 lead, and the match seemed to be sealed. But Australia still had some spark in them yet, and came back with two tries in the last 2.5 minutes to take the lead by one point, leaving the match at 22-21. In a breathtaking finale, Fiji’s No.10 Alasio pounced on a lost ball by Australia to sprint past the entire Aussie backline, securing Fiji’s back to back title win in a 28-22 finish.
With the glorious victory, the entire stadium erupted into a wave of applause and cheers, alongside flamethrowers and confetti to mark Fiji’s win. As guest of honour Minister for Trade and Industry Mr S Iswaran made his appearance, and HSBC CEO Tony Cripps moved to present the championship trophy to Fiji, the weekend ended on an unimaginably fun note, cementing the fact that rugby is a real gentleman’s sport. The HSBC Rugby 7s is doing good work to keep the sport vibrant in Singapore, and can and should continue in the years to come, bringing in new fans each time and growing the sport with each new, incredible edition.