Liyana Ong and Adeline Chew among debutants seeking to make an impact in a new-look squad for Singapore Women's Rugby at Phuket 7s Women's Invitational
Team captain Ong Pei Yi will be leading the line for Singapore Women's rugby. FILE PHOTO: SPORTPLUS.SG
Singapore, 7 April 2022 – While most of us are easing back into the new normal, the Singapore national rugby teams are charging back into the competitive Asia rugby arena with the inaugural Phuket 7s Women’s Invitational happening this weekend.
With many of the old dogs retiring during the pandemic, the Women’s Team is set to showcase a new generation of female rugby players.
Making her debut this season is Liyana Ong, the number 9 (scrumhalf) of the team. A youthful looking 28 year-old, Ms Ong started her rugby journey close to a decade ago. The former track and field runner’s foray into Contact Rugby began with touch Rugby, a sport her friends’ had recommended. She was later introduced to the contact sport through the Cross Code Challenge, a talent ID program in 2015.
Aspiring to be in the national team since she was 19, scoring a place in the squad has been a surreal experience for Ms Ong. “Even though I’ve wanted this for so long, I never thought I’d actually get this opportunity,” she adds.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong meeting the Singapore Women's Rugby team before their departure. PHOTO: SINGAPORE RUGBY UNION
Working within the limitations of a COVID-19 regulations, the Women’s Team have been diligent in clocking their own fitness during the months of inactivity on the field. Ms Ong remarks that returning to the field has been smooth fitness-wise yet “quite mad” getting back into the game at an accelerated level. Thankfully, the supportive environment and regular goal-setting have been pivotal to coping with the pressure to perform.
Despite the tough journey, the athlete is fired up and ready to prove that she has earned her position on the Phuket field.
The Singapore Women's Rugby Team in training. FILE PHOTO: SPORTPLUS.SG
Fellow debutant, Adeline Chew, echoes her teammate’s sentiment about the steep learning curve. Nominated by her club (Blacks) to join the National squad, Ms Chew remarks that being shortlisted has really challenged her to push her limits mentally and physically, “it felt like I was going from 0-100,” she adds.
Balancing her work as a teacher in a Secondary school has not been an easy feat, however, her school and colleagues have been extremely supportive of her aspirations and accommodating to her commitments as an athlete.
“It is daunting because I am playing amongst giants in the sport. One of the greatest challenges had been overcoming a lot of self doubt,” said the former National University of Singapore (NUS) player. Chew has found routine reflections and constant clarification crucial to ensuring that she is able to keep up with her more experienced teammates.
Seasoned campaigner Jayne Chan (second from left) and Chanel Weng who is relatively new to the set-up are a good representation of the make-up of the current Singapore Women's Rugby squad. PHOTO: SINGAPORE RUGBY UNION
Leading the squad is old-timer Ong Pei Yi, endearingly known as Pong by her teammates. An exceptional player from the get go, Ms Ong’s journey as a rugby player began in university and progressed straight into the national Team from 2016 onwards.
“New blood is great for the team but we are also still in the process of getting back into previous levels of play and building a team culture.” No stranger to the preparations for the Asia Rugby games, the captain expresses her excitement to get out there and play with a new slate of players, and at the same time solidify the team’s chemistry on and off the field.
Debutant Adeline Chew receiving her jersey from Minister Edwin Tong. PHOTO: SINGAPORE RUGBY UNION
Grateful for the immense support from the Singapore Rugby Union and eager to get back in the competitive ring with her team, Ms Ong hopes to showcase some good rugby at the Phuket field this weekend.
Matches will be streamed live on Singapore Rugby Union's Facebook page on 9 and 10 April, so do support Singapore Women's Rugby!
Happening in the same weekend is the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens as well –– it’s been long overdue but the heat for Rugby is finally in full swing.