Asian rugby rising

Published by Scrum Queens, October 4th, 2009

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Asian rugby rising

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It has been a year of firsts for women's rugby in South-East Asia.

In May, the first Malaysian representative women's rugby 7s side took part in the Asian Women's 7s in Pattaya together with debutants, Iran and India.

In June, the first Malaysian club side took part in their first 15 aside league - the Guinness Singapore Rugby Women's 15 League 2009 playing two fixtures away and one fixture at home.

In July, women's rugby in Laos got their first taste of a 15 aside match.

In September, the Malaysian Barbarians played their first international against the Singapore A in Kuala Lumpur.

Without discounting the commitment of the Malaysian players, coaching staff, management and its Union, to have a fully endorsed 15 s aside representative team in the same year of their 7s debut reflects the growth of the game in this region.

Last weekend a group of Malaysian women's players wore their country's colours in a test match for the first against Singapore at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium.

Comprised mainly of players from the Royal Selangor Club, these women have been picking up game experience from various regional tournaments such as the Borneo 7s, Jonah Jones 7s and Negri Sembilan 7s.

For their neighbours, a Singapore 15 aside national team was only formed eight years after Singapore sent its first representative 7s team to the Hong Kong International Women's 7s in 1998.

The Malaysians would have no doubt benefited from the participation of the Dingos in the Guinness Singapore Rugby Women's 15s League with three other fully formed 15 aside teams as sparring partners.

Five years ago , apart from Thailand which has an established provincial schools league and the Blacks Rugby Football Club from Singapore having put out a team against a Thai side in 2004, there was no sign of the full format of the game ever becoming a regular fixture in any domestic or regional rugby calendar in South East Asia.

The availability of competitive games for women's rugby in the region was becoming a huge obstacle to the growth of the game. However much has changed.

In the past two years, Cambodia and Laos have started women's rugby which saw the inclusion of Women's 7s in the South East Asian Games in 2007. With the addition of women's categories in most of the established regional club tournaments (Bangkok 7s, Borneo 7s, Shanghai 7s, Blacks Midnight 10s, Bali 10s, Vientiane 10s) there is plenty of women's rugby being played and to be played.

The weekend's test between Singapore and Malaysia marks a yet another historic moment for women's rugby in the South East Asia and perhaps a good moment to reflect on how much the game has grown there.

Singapore and Hong Kong are this weekend to play their final warm-up game in preparation for the Asian World Cup Qualifers. Keep checking for more information on the game and the qualifiers.