Reported by : Azrin Nazir
Edited by: Victor Lee
When I received my assignment to cover this year’s IHG Touch Rugby, I had initially mourned the loss of a precious Sunday. At the same I remembered the exciting and inspiring performances by KE’s Touch Rugby during last year’s IHG and almost immediately, I was looking forward to covering the event! The event was conducted in a league style with each hall playing against the other five halls once, each 20 minute match comprising 2 halves of 10 minutes. When I arrived at the SRC field, the team were already doing their warm up drills in preparation for the gruelling day ahead. Prior to the first game team captain Melvin Soo and team coach Raihan gathered the team for a final run down of tactics.
“You’ve trained so damn hard and today is your day. Whatever you’ve trained, do it on the field,” said the team’s coach, Raihan, with the team huddled around him. The touch rugby players trained very hard during the holidays and so I was confident that they will be a formidable opponent.
The first match commenced at 11:10am with KE facing off against Sheares. Both sides appeared to evenly matched. With Sheares mounting the pressure, KE’s defense remained resolute. Right before the end of the first half, Sheares exploited a gap in KE’s defensive line to score a try. After a stirring half time pep talk, KE marched out to meet Sheares for the second half. Sheares opened the second half with some aggressive plays but KE manage to contain them. After a few minutes of evenly matched plays, Sheares made a breakthrough run after a succession of quick passes to score the second try of the game right before the final whistle. The score was 2-0 to Sheares.
Despite the initial loss, the guys in red from KE marched out triumphantly to meet Temasek. The match kicked off at 12pm with TH making aggressive plays and strong drives down the field. KE’s defensive line remained stable, closing down on TH players fast. However, with TH setting the tempo for the game, our players were not able to gain much ground during their possession. With a quick counter TH surges forwards and scores! Almost immediately KE responded with blistering speed, looking for scoring opportunities. Unfortunately TH managed to counter and they broke away from KE’s defenders to score right before the whistle for halftime. The second half began with KE attempting to push forward. TH countered hard and pressured KE’s defence. There were a many good saves and the score remained at 2-0.
The boys had about an hour to break for lunch and take a short breather. With three matches to go and the afternoon sun turning up the heat, the team still had a long way to go and they were not ready to throw in the towel.
The third match against Raffles Hall kicked off under the blazing afternoon sun. Both sides probed each other’s defences. It seemed to be an even game until RH scored in the first half. A lapse in the defensive line allowed RH to score the second try before half time. The second half started off relatively cautiously. Our players tried to advance but could find no openings to take advantage of.
The fourth game against Kent Ridge Hall kicked off at 2:50pm. By then fatigue was setting in and many of the players were injured in some way or another in addition to the sweltering heat but the touch ruggers from KE soldiered on. The score remained level at the end of the first half with KE defending well despite the high tempo game. In the opening moments of the second half KR caught KE off guard and exploited gaps in the defence to score the first try of the game. Looking to cement their victory, KR began to play even more aggressively. KR scored two more tries leaving the score at 3-0 to KR.
The final matched against Eusoff began at 3:40pm. EH players opened the game with quick speed and succession, scoring three tries in the first half. Moments after the opening whistle for the second half EH managed to score the fourth try of the game. EH scored three more tries until the final whistle ended the match at 7-0 to Eusoff.
Despite the result, all the KEVIIans present were proud of the KE Touch Rugby Team. I had spoken to team captain Melvin about his aims for IHG: “The team’s expectation was to put up a strong fight and play to our team’s fullest potential in every match.” Watching the team throughout the day, they have certainly surpassed their expectations. Here’s wishing our Touch Rugby all the best for next year’s IHG!