The Southeast Asia 7s returned after a six-year gap – but the outcome was the same, with Thailand winning the title.
With rugby sevens absent from the schedule of this year’s Southeast Asia Games in Hanoi, the Singapore Rugby Union revived the Southeast Asia Sevens this weekend as part of their campaign to get the sport included as a core sport in the biennial event.
The regional competition took place alongside the latest round on the men’s world sevens series, which was also taking place in Singapore. Four teams took part – Singapore, Laos, Philippines and Thailand.
The first “SEA 7s” took place in 2007 to prepare teams for sevens appearing as an exhibition event at that year’s Southeast Asia Games. With sevens becoming an Olympic sport, sevens again appeared on the Games schedule in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Separate Southeast Asia Sevens were also organised as part of the Singapore Sevens in 2016 and 2017 (but not 2018, when there was only a men’s event).
And Thailand had won all seven of these competitions, with Singapore runners-up in six. Given Thailand consistently rank in the top four or five women’s rugby nations in Asia this is perhaps no surprise.
This year pool games took place at the Jurong West Stadium. Thailand swept to the final scoring 22 tries, and conceding just one. Singapore were similarly faultless against the other two teams in the event, Laos and Philippines, but lost to Thailand in their final pool fixture. Laos recorded perhaps their greatest ever win in their final pool game beating Philippines 20-5, but could not repeat that in the third-place game which Philippines won 10-5.
The final took place in the main National Stadium during a gap in the World Series games, Thailand winning 22-7.
Afterwards Singapore captain Victoria Chew emphasised the importance of the event to her team: “For most of us, it was our first time playing a home tournament, so the adrenaline and excitement definitely helped us to step up when opportunities presented themselves. We trained about four to five times a week for this tournament and had a lot of expectations to get into the final.”
The teams are expected to take part in the Asia Rugby Sevens Series, to be held from August to October, and September’s Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Pool: Singapore 27-0 Laos; Thailand 53-0 Philippines; Philippines 0-17 Singapore; Laos 0-53 Thailand; Singapore 5-24 Thailand; Laos 20-5 Philippines
3rd place: Laos 5-10 Philippines
Final: Thailand 22-7 Singapore;