Rugby: Singapore edged out by UAE in Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy final

SINGAPORE – The Singapore national rugby sevens team narrowly missed out on first place at the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy challenge in Thailand on Sunday (April 10), but turned into a stellar performance much to the satisfaction of interim national coach Suhaimi Amran.

Playing in their first international tournament in more than two years, the Republic were edged out 22-17 in a sudden death in a thrilling final against the top-ranked United Arab Emirates (UAE), after the match had ended in a tie in regulation time.

“I’m gutted, especially since we were within reach of winning the tournament but I am not disappointed, the team turned in really good performances right through the weekend, that included a win over the UAE in the first round,” he told the Straits Times.

“We have to remember that the UAE is one of the top teams in Asia, and apart from that performance, we also defeated Thailand, whom we lost to at the 2019 Southeast Asia Games, we have laid the foundation for the season, and we are going to build on this. “

Apart from the defeat by the UAE in the final at the Surakul Stadium in Phuket, the Singapore national team were undefeated in the opening round on Saturday, claiming victories against Thailand’s Team A, Chinese Taipei and the UAE.

Team captain Declan Martens said he was proud of the team especially coming off a long hiatus without competitive rugby.

“We did really, really well on the first day, taking out teams who play at a much higher level than us, and we won in a way that builds confidence with the squad, it’s unfortunate we came up short in the final,” Martens got upon landing at Changi Airport on Monday afternoon (April 11).

Martens said the team has been given some time off but will resume training in about three weeks to start preparations for the next tournament sometime in August.

The 29-year-old said the team will likely need to work on tightening up their defense, especially after going up against some of the UAE players.

He said: “We just missed too many tackles and that is what let us down in the final, because the UAE had some really big players and we just didn’t put them down in the way we needed to, like in the first game. “

Interim coach Suhaimi said the tweaks to the team were not major, and noted the need for better game management and adaptability. The team had lost first-team starter Maurice Wong, who was unable to play after testing positive for Covid on arrival in Thailand, he added.

“Nothing major, we just need to work on being more adaptable and raising our level of tournament fitness, which we will do as we play more tournaments,” said Suhaimi.

“But we have laid the foundation we can be hopeful of having a good 2022 season.”

The team are looking to earn a spot for the September Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, but will need to convince the Singapore National Olympic Council.

Meanwhile, in the women’s competition, the Republic finished fourth after losing 17-7 to Thailand B in the third-place play-off. Thailand A defeated the UAE 22-5 in the final to win the five-team tournament.

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