By Patrick Johnston

It was a case of mission accomplished for Singapore’s two rugby sevens sides after both achieved their goals from a physical and intense Asian Games competition which ended on Tuesday (Sep 26).


The men’s side, making their Asiad debut, finished on a high with a 19-12 win over Chinese Taipei at a hot and humid Hangzhou Normal University Cangqian Athletics Field to secure seventh in the 13-team event. Muhammad Farhan, Jonathan Wong and Nicholas Yau all scored tries in the victory.


“Our goal was to win, and we achieved it,” said Hidayat Jeffrydin, who kicked two conversions against Taipei.


“I think we did the best we could. The endless amounts of training, endless amounts of running, I think we prepared well for the Games but I think there is always room for improvement. Our goal was to compete in this tournament and not back down, we will come back stronger.”

20230924_rugby7s_men_bf_074Singapore’s Jonathan Wong leads the team off the field and celebrates victory over Thailand in their Asian Games men’s rugby sevens Pool C contest at the Hangzhou Normal University Cangqian Athletics Field. (Photo: SportSG/Bryan Foo)


The men played five matches in Hangzhou; beating Thailand 21-12 in their opening fixture before losing to regional heavyweights Japan 41-7. The team fought gamely in their 36-17 quarter-final defeat by China, which put them in the 5th-8th place bracket where they lost to Malaysia 33-7 before beating Taipei.


Hidayat said the team had bonded well in Hangzhou, taking many positive lessons from the experience.

20230924_rugby7s_men_bf_003Singapore’s men’s rugby sevens squad, coaches and technical staff pose for a photograph at the Hangzhou Normal University Cangqian Athletics Field before making their debut in the Asian Games. (Photo: SportSG/Bryan Foo)


“We can learn from the intensity at which these top teams are playing,” he said. “We rarely have training camps with top teams, so this kind of tournament is an eye opener and we can get used to the intensity and hopefully we can play one of the big teams in the big league.”


The women went one better, finishing sixth overall for the fourth straight Asiad.


The team played four times in Hangzhou, opening with a 57-0 loss to Japan and 29-0 defeat by Hong Kong. They bounced back to beat India 15-0 and faced Kazakhstan on Tuesday with a chance of securing a best-ever fifth place overall finish. However, Daphne Lai and Liyana Ong suffered injuries early on as the women were unable to convert lots of possession into points, with the immensely physical Kazakhs claiming a 50-0 win.

20230924_rugby7s_women_bf_007Singapore women’s captain Victoria Chew jumps high to claim the ball against Japan during the Asian Games women’s rugby sevens Pool F match against Japan at the Hangzhou Normal University Cangqian Athletics Field. (Photo: SportSG/Bryan Foo)


“We knew they were going to be physical but in our hearts we were ready, we are a small country, probably the smallest here, but I think we have the biggest hearts,” said Nicole Tan, who scored a try in the win over India.


“The results may not have gone our way but we fought to the very last minute, even with two players down.


“We knew coming here, we weren’t going to medal but we wanted to come here to test ourselves, to see how good we are in Asia. Our goal was to be sixth and we have done that so I’m very, very proud of our team.”


Next stop for the two teams is a leg of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in Bangkok next month.

20230924_rugby7s_women_bf_002Singapore’s women’s rugby sevens squad, coach and technical staff pose for a photograph at the Hangzhou Normal University Cangqian Athletics Field before the start of the Asian Games competition. (Photo: SportSG/Bryan Foo) 


The 19th Asian Games are held in Hangzhou, China from 23 September to 8 October 2023. For the latest Team Singapore coverage and news, follow Team Singapore on their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) or visit the official Team Singapore website.