Rugby union in Singapore

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Rugby union in Singapore
National stadium kallang sg z.JPG
The National Stadium, which closed in 2007, was used to host many of Singapore's international home matches
Country Singapore
Governing body Singapore Rugby Union
National team Singapore
First played Late 19th century
Registered players 9,400[1]
Clubs 13
National competitions

Rugby union is a significant sport that is growing in popularity in Singapore. Singapore is currently ranked 66th and has over 12,000 players, with more than 2,000 women playing the sport. There are also 15 formally organised clubs.[1]

Club Rugby in Singapore is played in three divisions – the Premiership, the Championship, and the Conference. School Rugby is also hotly contested over three age groups – the C division (under 14), the B division (under 17) and the A division (under 19). There are also a few schools that have a primary-school-level rugby programme where they contest in the under-12 competition.


Rugby union was introduced to the British colony of Singapore in the late 19th century. It has had a steady presence since the beginning of the 20th century, when the Malay Cup between Singapore national rugby union team and Malaya was established, which is one of the oldest rugby competitions in the world.[2]

Swedish rugby union player Andrew Daish scoring a try during a rugby sevens competition in Singapore in January 2011

However, unlike the other colonial city state of Asia, Hong Kong, rugby has not been quite so successful here. The tragic events of the Second World War and the Japanese occupation of Singapore also disrupted its growth. Between 1945 and 1991, a regiment of New Zealanders was based in Singapore, and during those years they dominated the game to the extent that when they left, the Singaporean rugby scene almost fell apart.[3]

Like some other places, Singaporean rugby's colonial inheritance has proven a hindrance. It is still dominated by white expatriates from Commonwealth countries, such as the Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom – there are at least twenty such expat clubs. There has been some take up amongst other groups, and there has been a long-standing effort to involve the local Chinese population, mainly by Australians Peter Randall and Andrew Blades.[3]

The Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) was founded in 1966, and joined the International Rugby Football Board (now the International Rugby Board) in 1988.[1][3]

A schoolboy rugby match at the Padang in Singapore in October 2013

In 1995, after a heavy defeat at the hands of Hong Kong, the SRU decided to appoint a full-time officer and four part-time development officers, and instituted a schools programme. Between 1995 and 1998, over a hundred schools took up the sport.[4]

Singapore has also taken part in an Asian round-robin tournament with Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.[2]

Singapore is an active participant in the Commonwealth Sevens, and Hong Kong Sevens. The now defunct Singapore Sevens was set up as a stand by for the Hong Kong Sevens, should it have declined under Chinese rule.[3]

2019 Rugby World Cup[edit]

At the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be hosted by Japan, in addition to the nine venues located in that country, one venue each from Singapore and Hong Kong have also been proposed to host five matches respectively.[5] The Singapore Sports Hub, the successor to the National Stadium, with a capacity of 50,000, will be used for this purpose.

Singapore rugby referees[edit]

Singapore rugby referees have performed notably on the international stage, despite the small rugby playing population. They have been appointed to referee at international events like the Hong Kong Sevens and the Commonwealth Games, as well as at top Asian test matches such as Hong Kong vs Japan.[citation needed]

Notable Singaporean players[edit]

Players running down the touchline during the Singapore Cricket Club Rugby Sevens tournament
  • Billy King, rugby player and cricketer.
  • Jon Lee, current national team captain
  • Rong Jing Xiang, former national team captain
  • Arumugam Vijiaratnam, also represented Singapore in hockey, cricket and football.
  • Ben Wheeler, former national team captain

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Singapore, International Rugby Board, archived from the original on 8 October 2014, retrieved 8 October 2014 .
  2. ^ a b Richard Bath (1997), The Complete Book of Rugby, [London]: Sevenoaks, p. 71, ISBN 978-1-86200-013-1 .
  3. ^ a b c d Bath, p. 74.
  4. ^ A Brief History of Singapore Rugby, Singapore Rugby Union, 2013, archived from the original on 19 October 2014 .
  5. ^ RWC 2015/2019: 15 Main Topics & Venues of the Bid of Japan, Japan Rugby Football Union, 2006, archived from the original on 22 February 2012 .

External links[edit]