20th March, 2017
OFFICIAL … Taizo Hirabayashi officiating one of the matches at the 14th Borneo Sevens International Clubs Rugby Tournament that ended in Sandakan yesterday.
SANDAKAN: A top professional referee in world rugby has given his thumb up to the Borneo Sevens International Clubs Rugby Tournament that ended at the Eagles Rugby Club here yesterday.
Taizo Hirabayashi said he was impressed with how the Borneo Sevens have progressed from his involvement in the tournament, which has now gained popularity globally.
The Japanese explained that the progress made was not only regarding the standard of the tournament in terms of organising and participating but also in the aspect of refereeing.
He reserved special praise though for bringing back the women’s category of the tournament after two-years hiatus
“This is my third time in Sandakan and a couple of times in Kota Kinabalu and I think (the Borneo Sevens) is improving.
“In Asia especially, the women’s rugby is blooming and it’s good to have the category in the mix.
“The likes of Hong Kong and Sri Lanka national teams are here for build up towards the Hong Kong Sevens, it’s really important to be here and do some physical games against NZ, Fijian, Australian sides,” he told reporters here yesterday.
Hirabayashi went on to say that overall the Borneo Sevens too was important for rugby development not only for the state and country but also at Asian level.
He reckoned that the local could learnt from the best in the efforts to reach new heights.
“It’s great opportunity for Asian people because (one of the participating teams) NZ selection team is actually the real Auckland team, which has the potential to become the All-Black Sevens or super rugby players in the future.
“So it’s good to have them here for developing Asian rugby and also to invest overseas potential international players for the future,” he added.
As for the referees, Hirabayashi said he was particularly pleased that the group officating at the Borneo Sevens are from Asian nations.
“I’m quite impressed this time because we have team Asia referees in the group and they are really keen to be a top referee in the future.
“They really put in the energy and efforts into rugby which is good,” he added.