International class rugby this weekend

 

By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my

KOTA KINABALU: The 2016 edition of the Borneo 7s will again be bringing international class rugby to Sabah. The 15th edition of the prestigious tournament that will be happening this weekend (March 19 and 20) in Sandakan, the nature city of Sabah, has been aptly tagged as the The Greenest Sevens In The World.

It is sanctioned by the Malaysia Sports Commissioner, Malaysia Rugby Union and Sabah Rugby Union and will take place at the home of the Eagles Rugby Club located at Bandar Utama, Mile 6, Jalan Utara.

It will be a tournament for international club teams and only the men’s event will be held this year. Cash prizes totalling over US$27,000 are up for grabs.

This will surely be another showcase of rugby not just for Sabah but in fact for Malaysia as a whole. This year, teams from Australia, Belgium, Singapore and Hong Kong and Brunei have signed up for participation. Again the cream of Malaysia’s teams will also be in the fray, pitting their skills against the visitors and fellow Malaysian teams alike.

So far, teams that have confirmed their participation are Belgium Barbarians, Paly Pirates (Australia), Charis Rugby 7s (Australia), Singapore RU, Hong Kong RU, Brunei RU, ATM Blackhawks, Panthers/Blowpipes (KL), Sabah Eagles (SRU) and Borneo Eagles (ERC).

This time around, the pressure will be on the host team Borneo Eagles, who will be defending their title which they snatched from Fiji’s Daveta last year, winning by just one point.

This is a touring team (Borneo Eagles) with many guest players from New Zealand plus the cream of Sabah players. They have been four-time winners at the Darwin 7s in Australia, a record that still stands today.

Meanwhile the Sabah Eagles, comprising our top state players, will also be participating to gauge their skills against their peers.

It will be a good opportunity for them to prepare themselves for the defence of the Agong’s Cup to be held later this year.

Sabah are the current Agong’s Cup champions having won back-to-back victories in 2014 and 2015. The Sabah Eagles are ready and eager to soar higher at the Borneo 7s.

Among the benefits of the tournament is that it challenges and spurs our local players to rise to the occasion in the face of strong opponents.

Equally important is the fact that the tournament will arouse interest in the game and encourage locals, especially schoolchildren and youth, to play the game.

The organisers, Eagles Rugby Club, invites rugby fans to come and watch the excitement on the pitch. Entrance is FREE.

Looking back, the Borneo 7s (formerly known as the Borneo 10s), made its debut in 2001 and has over the years developed into one of the major sports events in our state. Renowned international teams that have participated over the last few years include Davetalevu (Fiji), Marist St. Joseph (Samoa), Aotearoa Maori Club (New Zealand), Penguins International (UK), Barbarians (Singapore), Arabian Pot-bellies (Dubai-UAE), Harlequins (Kenya), Australian Legends, Country King Browns (Australia), Mustangs (South Africa), Belgium Barbarians, Taipei Baboons (Taiwan), Casuarina Rugby Club (Australia), Brunei Rugby Union, Palmyra RC (Australia), Nedlands RC (Australia), Massey Rugby Club (Australia), the Outlaws RC (Australia), Southern Lions RC (Australia) and Sunny Bank RC (Australia).

The cream of Malaysian teams that have participated in the past are COBRA (Kuala Lumpur), DBKL Sports Club, Combined Malaysian Armed Forces, Negeri Sembilan Wanderers, Malaysia Universities, Sibu Rugby Club, Sabah Eagles, OSCA-Warriors, KK Sharks and host team ERC Borneo Eagles.

To promote the game, a free rugby clinic and carnival for schoolchildren was held last Saturday at the tournament venue.

Apart from learning some basics of rugby, the carnival featured other fun and games for the kids. Over 150 kids from several schools in Sandakan turned up for the clinic/carnival. On hand to teach and guide them were professional coaches as well as national and state players.

 
By : FRANCIS XAVIER
 
New Sabah Times