Latecomers to industrial development have had to catch up by finding ways of closing the gap
And successfully closing the gap has been the Singaporean way for many years. When Singaporeans take hold of something new, they add their own twist or brand and end up with something close to the best. Just as it has happened with Formula 1, it will happen with Sevens Rugby. I have absolutely no doubt that this year’s incarnation of the Singapore Sevens will be bigger and better than last year, and next year we’ll host something a level up again.
Singapore’s been my home leg of the Sevens Circuit for the past couple of years – and maybe in small part due to climate – the traditional Sevens names don’t always feature at the business end of day two. Last year we had a Canadian win, beating their North American rivals the US in the final, and the year before it was Kenya who collected the victory in Singapore.
As individual performances go last year Perry Baker stole it, not least with the kids and young fans in the Singapore National Stadium. Whilst Scotland could confidently lay claim to having had the most “lively” fans, as all too often with Scottish sport the team didn’t get close to matching the fans’ performance -yet with sporting masochism in the blood, I don’t expect the kilt count to drop in two weeks’ time.
Singaporean Rugby is definitely on the up, the National team setup is growing in professionalism and capacity and has an expanding youth and amateur tier underneath. And whilst we are an occasional home to Super 15 Rugby and the Sunwolves franchise -the Singapore Sevens is still seen as the premier rugby event of the year.
Ireland’s failure at the last hurdle in Hong Kong, to qualify for next year’s World Sevens is hugely disappointing but at least there is an appreciation of the need to be involved. They can have another crack next season to cure the anomaly that Ireland, ranked second globally in 15-a-side, are the only team in the top ten not involved in World Sevens.
As for Northern Ireland not having a team at the Commonwealth Games Sevens in Australia – it absolutely defies logic. For a small country with limited sporting resources and talent, having a Sevens team is a no-brainer. It’s one area where Northern Ireland has an established pool of professional sporting talent and a Club side -Ulster -who can genuinely claim to be operating at the higher levels of their sport. And unlike the Ireland selection policies that bar some players plying their rugby trade in England, France or elsewhere, a Northern Ireland Commonwealth games team would be without restriction.
If there are any prospective sponsors out there keen to get involved, I would be delighted to manage or coach Northern Ireland Sevens squads through qualifying for the 2022 Commonwealth Games – even if it’s in dreary Birmingham.
Back to the Singapore Sevens, my prediction is any one of Fiji, South Africa or Kenya to win. Like most things in sport it will come down to who wants it most.
The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.
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