The only real difference between the atmosphere of the Standard Chartered Singapore Sevens (SCSS) and battles in ancient Rome’s coliseums is that no one dies during the Sevens … although there is certainly grievous bodily harm aplenty.
Bone crunching brutality, all out of love for what has been called “the game that’s played in heaven”, is certainly the order of the day for the SCSS. Rugby has always drawn a passion from its players and supporters almost unrivalled by any other sport. And with the Sevens tournament—which Singapore is just one leg of—you get to see that passion up close and very personal.
All this intensity might be a little intimidating for newcomers to the sport. With all the ruckus, wild partying and alarming amounts of beer guzzling—and the actual games themselves—it’s easy to feel a little out of place and lost at the event.
As the SCSS arrives on our shores on Apr 8 and 9, we’ve drawn up a guide for you to make it through the entire weekend of madness, mayhem and machismo.
The Name of The Game
History The first thing you’re going to need to do to fit in is acknowledge your ‘new car smell’ and brush up on your knowledge of the sport.
Seven-a-side rugby—a variation of the traditional 15-a-side—finds its roots, as the legend goes, in a Scottish town in 1883 where, after a dispute within a club, a breakaway group was formed. Not having enough players on either side, a local butcher invented the seven-a-side game so that competition could begin.
Fast forward to 2001, when the Singapore Rugby Union put in a bid to be one of the hosts for the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) popular Sevens Series. As you’d have probably guessed, the inaugural Singapore Sevens tournament was held in 2002, and this year marks Standard Chartered’s third as the event’s title sponsor.
Rules The object of the game is simple: to score a “try,” worth five points, by grounding the ball in the opponent’s score zone or in-goal area. A try entitles you a “conversion,” worth two points, which is scored when the ball is dropkicked through the two uprights. If you manage to score a dropkick in the middle of play or through a penalty, that’ll be worth three points. You can’t pass the ball forward, but kicking it forward is fine. Got all that? Good. And remember: while you can’t be tackled when the ball’s not in your possession, you had better run like hell when it is.
As for the SCSS itself, each team will be placed in a pool of four teams. There will be four pools and, for the first day, teams will face off against opponents from their own pool. A win earns a team three points, a draw will get them two, and a loss one. No point is awarded for a no-show. On the second day, teams will duke it out with other pools to determine overall fourth, third, second and first place in the tournament.
The Sevens’ Survival Kit
Weather The first thing to keep in mind when heading for the SCSS is to check weather reports as close to the days as possible, so that you’ll know whether to pack sunscreen and caps or raincoats and umbrellas.
Bring lots of water too. Sure, there’ll be a steady supply of beer, but if the weather’s smoldering, the last thing you want is to get dehydrated among thousands of manic rugby enthusiasts.
You might also want to dress light, regardless of weather conditions, since you’re going to be at the National Stadium for the entire day sweating and screaming your hearts out cheek to jowl with the masses.
Color Dressing light, however, doesn’t mean you can’t be heavy on the silliness. Showing your loyalties seems to be tied directly with how big a weirdo you look like—so don’t hold back on the face paint and outrageous wigs.
That would normally be enough, but ridiculous large headgear helps distinguish you as a diehard rugby nut. Besides, who isn’t looking for a socially acceptable reason to adorn a large goofy hat?
Alcohol It just wouldn’t be rugby without beer, would it? Fosters is adamant that the barrel never runs dry, so have your beer hats ready and make sure that your liver’s in tip-top condition. No, you can’t bring your own booze, and you sure don’t want to waste time getting frisked by security for bottles, do you?
When you find yourself needing a dose of the munchies, you can always pick up some snacks from the 7-11 outlets that will be around.
Larger Than Life
Team Spirit With 16 ferocious teams to pick from, you’re definitely spoiled for choice on who to root for. But if you’re looking to be on the side of the champs, the odds-on favorite at the moment is Fiji, which is firmly topping the IRB Sevens and, more importantly, boasts the modern legend Waisale Serevi.
But they’d better watch their backs—because the English team is fresh off winning the USA Sevens. And after getting trounced by New Zealand in last years’ SCSS, they’re certainly looking for some payback and to pick up the title this time.
While South Africa may be third in the standings, they were voted as the People’s Pick at the start of the 05/06 season—and the word most commonly used to describe the Springboks is “dangerous.”
Of course, for hardcore loyalists big on cheering for the underdogs, there’s our very own Sevens squad. The odds may be stacked up against them, but that just makes our boys all the hungrier.
Get It On! While we expect all the games to be downright badass, you might want to keep an eye out for some particular matches during the opening round.
Fiji is definitely a team to watch out for, so when they face off against anyone in their pool (which includes our guys), that’s certainly something to look forward to.
Singapore’s Captain Rong Jing Xiang best sums up the immense challenge of facing off against Fiji by referring to them as “our Mount Everest.”
Another match to note is Argentina taking on South Africa. A lot of people have been talking about the Argentineans, and how they’ve been developing some exciting backs recently, so to see them go up against the monster that is South Africa is going to be a really interesting treat.
Just the Facts, Ma’am
Going Once, Going Twice If simply attending the event isn’t enough for you, the Singapore Rugby Union is holding three online auctions on eBay for anyone looking to really get into the thick of the SCSS.
The Rugby Royalty auction, as the name so aptly implies, will see the highest bidder sitting large throughout the weekend. Aside from pitchside seats, the winner will also be granted free flow of food and drinks. Bidding’s on right now, and ends on Mar 23.
So how do you top being treated like a king? Well, by rubbing shoulders with rugby gods, of course. The Ultimate Sevens Package gets you into the Gala Dinner and the Player’s Party, where you get to spend face time with your favorite stars, plus score tickets and merchandise. Bidding starts on Mar 24 and ends on Mar 30.
Finally, for you ladies, there’s the chance to win a dinner date with hunky rugby legends Martin Johnson and John Eales. Yummy! The auction starts on Mar 25 and ends on Mar 31.
You can check out the auctions here: http://promo.ebay.com.sg/sevens.
Standard Chartered Singapore Sevens is on Apr 8-9 at the National Stadium. Tickets available from www.sistic.com.sg. Gather your friends— the group discounts are good value.