Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SMU Rugby Retains Tri-Universities Rugby Championship 2009 (15-a-side)

Results of Tri-Universities Rugby Championship 2009:

SMU vs NTU (11-0)
NUS vs SMU (12-33)
NTU vs SMU (8-10)
SMU vs NUS (10-12)

SMU Rugby successfully retained its 15-a-side title after a grueling one-month tournament featuring the likes of NUS and NTU. This marks the end of a remarkable season for SMU Rugby as the City Boys made a clean sweep at all the local university competitions – 2008 SuniG 7s (Champions) and Tri-Universities Rugby Championship 2009 (Champions), making them the top local university rugby team in Singapore.

We would like to thank OSL and SSU for the tremendous support given to the rugby team this entire season. Many thanks to the great supporters who came down to cheer for us. We greatly appreciate it and we hope that you will continue to support us in future competitions. It has been a great season and we will continue to work hard to do SMU proud.

Next up, SMU Rugby will be heading up to France in April for an international 7-a-side rugby tournament featuring the top rugby universities from around the world.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The debate: Who is the Special One?

Ever since our interview with current SMUrugby City Boy’s Coach, Rong JingXiang, “shit-stirrers” from various sources have flooded our tagboard and wrote to us. Some have questioned whether Rong has achieved more than Harry, or if there is possibly a better coach out there suitable for the talented City Boys.

The position of being the City Boys’ coach never used to get much attention until recent years. It is highly speculated that the position of being City Boy’s head-coach has been highly sought after, and that many coaches in Singapore have at some point in time expressed interest in the job over the last 2 years.

In the last 2 years, with 2 different coaches, the team has shown to be able to deliver the goods regardless of who they were being coached under – winning their respective tournaments and achieving the ultimate goal of winning the Tri-University Rugby Championships in both years under both Harry Mason and Rong Jingxiang respectively.

Based on our statistics analysis, both coaches’ achievements with the club are relatively on par and there are perhaps minor differences on paper. However, it is said that the team under new coach Rongy plays with a lot more structure, flair and confidence as compared to team that played in the previous season. But that may be due the inclusion of the new players, such as Derek Chan, Bryan Ng, Nick Hwang and EJ. However, making a comparison between the two coaches and judging who did a better job will be highly inappropriate and unprofessional of us as both coaches have been vital and integral in developing SMUrugby to where it is today – so much credit must go to both of them. As it is never going to be easy to coach a team with so much talent, of which most of the backline players are natural wingers and finishers of the game, rather than playmakers.

So kudos to both coaches, Harry Mason and Rong Jingxiang.

Under Harry Mason’s time (2007 to 2008)
- Won Blacks Midnight 10s Bowl in 2007 & 2008
- Finished 3rd in the ringEmail 7s
- Won SUniG 7s Cup 2008
- Won Tri-University Rugby Championships

Tri University 2008 Statistics

o Won 3 Matches Lost 1 (65pts scored & 35pts conceded)
o 1 Bonus point
o 8 tries scored & 5 tries conceded
o Most tries in a game for SMU : 3 against NUS (2008)
o Total points tally 10

Under Rong JingXiang’s time (2009 to current)
- Won Tri-University Rugby Championship

Tri University 2009 Statistics

o Won 3 Matches Lost 1 (64pts scored & 32pts conceded)
o 2 Bonus points
o 9 tries scored & 3 tries conceded
o 1 clean sheet
o Most tries in a game for SMU: 5 against NUS (2009)
o Total points tally 11

Saturday, March 28, 2009

SMUrugbynews Special:Coach Rong in the hot-seat

After successfully defending this year's Tri-Universities Rugby Championships this year, City boy's Head coach, Rong Jingxiang speaks to smurugby-news.blogspot.com, and shared with us his views on the team and what the future holds for the 2 time! 2 time!...Tri-Uni Champions.

SMUrugbynews: Thank you Rongy for taking time off your busy schedule to speak with us.

SMUrugbynews: ok...Firstly, congratulations on leading the team to victory in the Tri-Uni Championships. Could you describe to us how was your stint as the new coach of the City Boys been this season?
Rongy: Well...it was fun coaching cause i knew most of the boys before hand. To be honest, i didnt feel like i was a coach- COACH. I felt like i was one of the boys who was imparting the knowledge that i had acquired in my years of experience. It was nothing too formal and it was good fun.

SMUrugbynews: With the team littered with so many talented rugby players, was it easy to work with the team? Did you face any problems with any players in particular?
Rongy: Yes. It is obviously very hard to work with a team so littered with talent, cause at the end of the day, you can only fill in 15 players and you will want to get the best out of each player - so it was certainly tough. In terms of having problems with any players...well...lets just say the player that gave me the most problem was obviously Desmond "I'm fucked up" Wee (we knew that was coming).

Because while the lad has no doubt the ability on the field, he THINKS he is as good looking as me and his brother, Colin Wee. HAH! i had to keep the boy in check together with that unrealistic ego of his.

SMUrugbynews: Haha..whats new eh? Well moving on...many have criticised that with the amount of national team experience within the team, the City boys have at times underperformed, especially with narrow victories over NTU and even a defeat to NUS, what do you think about that?

Rongy: Well with the talent available, you would expect the scoreline to little bit more flattering. However, we've got to give some credit to our opponents. Both (NUS&NTU) who have in their respective matches "turned up" during game time and give the City boys a run for the money. Any team that wants to knock the defending champions off their pedestal will definitely give nothing less than their best, this is obvious in any sport.

Having said that, a win is a win and while we are champions once again, there is lots to be learnt and improved within the team.

SMUrugbynews: How would you then rate the City Boys performance in this year's Tri Unis?
Rongy: upon 10, i would rate them a 7. The rating would have been better if they have been more consistent throughout the 80mins. However, like all good teams complacency will sometimes creep in (as it did for us).

SMUrugbynews: So then, what has been the key to the success of the SMUrugby team this year?
Rongy: The desire to win from the boys. Special mention to the new boys like Derek Chan and Bryan Ng who both showed a lot of passion when they were on the field. It was good for the team.

SMUrugbynews: With many of the old guards set to leave the team at the end of their contract this season. Do you feel like the City boys' dominance in the local schools' rugby scene will be under any threat?
Rongy:Well.. obviously the team will be weaken. However, i'm sure SMU will gladly extend their contract if they wish to take up another year of studies in sexual intercourse offered by the students of the school. And when i say this, i refer to Vicky as one of the students.

SMUrugbynews: .....(ok whatever that means) So serious question now...This season the City boys featured without their former captain Amos "stomper" Siow, also known as the man with the most natural swing...was his presence missed in the team?
Rongy: KNN! His presence was sorely missed caused i realised that was a lack of comedy relief during training and the role of a clown was hard to fill. NEXT question..CB...KNN.

SMUrugbynews: Ok final question. We have heard that the board has been very pleased with your performance this season as head coach, does this mean we will be seeing more of you next season? The fans are already calling you "The Special one".
Rongy: The truth is...i would love to continue, but i haven't had any talks with the board as yet to where my future lies with the club. It remains to be seen. Lastly, to the fans...it is true...I am...whoever you say i am.


SMUrugbynews: Right.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

SMU Barely Scraps Past NTU

NTU vs SMU (6th March 2009)

Location: NTU

Scoreline: 8-10

Tries: NTU Winger (1)
Penalties: Aidil

Tries: Nick Hwang (1), Alex Chew (1)

At the back of a surprise victory over arch rivals NUS, the City Boys were looking to pile on the points against NTU when the teams met in the far western obscure part of Singapore for the return leg of the tournament. The City Boys were clearly buoyed with confidence and some were saying even before the match that the title was in the bag. However deep in Boon Lay territory, NTU were training hard, quietly getting confident that they could once again outmuscle the SMU forward pack, and somehow spring a shocker for SMU.

The sun was definitely a factor as a few SMU players were complaining of a possible heat stroke during the warm-ups and some even disgracefully requested to the coach about playing only one half. Such appalling reactions from the handsomely paid superstars were confounded by NTU’s intensity in the opening 5 minutes which saw SMU’s backline under serious pressure.

SMU’s kicking game was taking a while to find its groove whilst NTU’s standoff and fullback found pin-point accuracy in their punts which resulted in an unexpected first try for the Boon Lay Warriors. The try started from SMU’s first foray into the NTU’s 22 and due to some sloppy ruck-clearing, NTU had managed to steal the ball off the ruck and they countered. Gutsy play and simple hands from NTU within their own 22 and a massive boot from their fullback saw the ball travel into SMU’s 22. SMU were clearly not prepared for such Crusaders Style of rugby from their humble counterparts and were punished when a failed clearance from SMU’s flanker Ben Teong led to a try from the NTU winger. That try definitely set the tone for the rest of the match as NTU commanded throughout the half, and for once in years looked like they were serious contenders for a victory.

With halftime approaching, clearly both sides were suffering from the punishing heat and at one point of the match; NTU’s Yik Thai Hoe was seen pleading with his coaches to take him off. Apparently the appeals had started after 5 minutes and at every breakdown, Yik was sighted waving his hands to signal a substitution, however his requests were being turned down and he was cajoled into staying on for another 10 minutes always, this led to some spectators on the sidelines including injured flanker Lionel Poh and Uncle See Hong chanting “let him go, let him go”.

Back to the game, almost at the stroke of halftime, SMU managed to turn on the style and this led to some power pick and drives from SMU’s forwards led by Number 8 DMC and the ‘beautiful’ Prop Sherman Yeo. Some serious rucking101 from NTU caused the ball to be popped out of the base of the ruck and this lead to a free for all which allowed SMU in-centre also nicknamed Nick the 'German Panzer' Hwang to scoop out the ball and barraged past 2 NTU players to score SMU’s first try of the match leveling the score at 5 a piece. The Panzer’s recent performances have caused quite a stir in the Asian Rugby Forums and some critics have said he might be a serious contender for a place in the Team of the Tournament.

In the 2nd half, SMU brought on some big guns to replace the tired legs and that led SCC’s Prems Winger Alex Chew who also recently switched compression sponsors from Skinz to Under Armour, scoring a brilliant try 10 minutes into the 2nd half. The score was then 10-5 to the City Boys. The rest of the match was anything but cruise control for the SMU team, NTU came back even harder and this frustrated some of the SMU forwards. At one point, SMU forwards were heard screaming at each other, apparently ‘le beautiful prop’ Sherman was question the commitment of his second-rows and that led to a shouting contest.

NTU camped out in the SMU’s 22 for the remainder of the match as time and again, SMU failed to find touch on their kicks which resulted in NTU keeping up the pressure on SMU. The pressure got to Referee Douglas Danapal, brother of senior referee George Danapal (if you recalled he almost had an altercation with an SMU player last year @ SMU Ringemail 7s ), and he sent off SMU’s mercurial scrumhalf Justin Lum for disrespect. Justin Lum could be heard hurling profanities at the Ref as the number 9 was given his marching orders, 10 minutes in the bin.

Within that 10 minutes with 14 men, NTU converted a penalty infront of the post. The score was 10-8. If the match had a statistic on which half of the field the game was played, it would have shown 100% in SMU’s 22. The last 20 minutes was probably SMU’s real test of defense as NTU constantly knocked on the doors. NTU received so many opportunities to steal the victory from SMU that it was as if it was Christmas already and SMU was in such charitable moods. NTU missed a penalty right infront of the post and then had what seemed like 2 confirmed tries that gone begging due to some hardcore on-the-line oh wait, after the line tackling. Tackles from the biggest man on the pitch Derek Chan and monster hits from Vicky 'Squirmy' Sellathurai and Tafadzwa L Marasha resulted in the no-tries. SMU survived the ordeal and went on to win the match 10-8.

Final Score: 10-8 to SMU

*This article was proudly brought to you by special correspondent Lionel 'the Robber' Poh

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SMU Champions Again!!!

Click on table for a clearer image.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Championship Table

Click on image to view the table

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Try & Points Scorer Standings At The End of 1st Round

Top Try Scorers

#1 - [3 Tries]

Bryan Ng (SMU)

#2 - [2 Tries]
Keith Oh (NUS)

Justin Lum (SMU)

#3 - [1 Try]

Shafiq Zulazmi (NUS)

Tafadzwa L
Marasha (SMU)

Elisha Chng (NUS)

Ian Lennard Choo (NUS)

Jayapathma Herathmadhushanka
Meranjan (NTU)

Karnjote Singh (NTU)

Top Points Scorers

#1 - [15 points]

Bryan Ng (SMU)

#2 - [12 points]

Justin Lum (SMU)

#3 - [10 points]

Keith Oh (NUS)

#4 - [7 points]

Shafiq Zulazmi (NUS)

#5 - [6 points]

Josiah Goh (SMU)

#6 - [5 points]

Tafadzwa L Marasha (SMU)

Elisha Chng (NUS)

Ian Lennard Choo (NUS)

Jayapathma Herathmadhushanka Mera
njan (NTU)

Karnjote Singh (NTU)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

SMU Shocks NUS With a Record-Breaking Victory!

NUS vs SMU (27th Feb 2009)

Location: NUS

Scoreline: 12-33

Tries: Keith Oh (1), Shafiq Zulazmi (1)
Conversions: Shafiq Zulazmi

Tries: Justin Lum (2), Bryan Ng (2), Tafadzwa L Marasha (1)
Conversions: Justin Lum (1), Derek Chan (3)

Considered by rugby analysts as the match of the 1st round of Tri Uni 2009, this classic match-up between arch rivals SMU and NUS was predicted to be an interesting encounter. Pundits have tipped NUS to edge out after witnessing the defending champions' dismal performance against NTU on Monday.

In what turned out to be a one-sided affair, former Rafflesian scrumhalf Justin Lum bagged 2 tries in his full debut for SMU to help inspirational skipper, Daniel Marc Chow, make a triumphant return to the team in a stunning 33-12 record breaking victory on Friday night.
The win was SMU's first 15-a-side win on NUS ground.

Justin Lum's double confirmed his return from a horrendous knee injury suffered training for the National Sea Games 7s squad over a year ago. His man-of-the-match performance will do himself some justice after disgruntled fans complained about the number of times (only 1 appearance so far) he has appeared in the SMU jersey after the massive transfer fee paid 2 years ago. It also relieved some of the pressure on the City Boys, which had been reeling from their below-par performance earlier in the week against NTU as well as missing the presence of key players such as Lionel Poh and Daniel Marc Chow.

Returning to the team for the first time since his freak abdominal injury 2 weeks ago, DMC had a hand in two of SMU's five-pointers.

The City Boys have now won all of its first round games of the Tri Unis season against both NTU and NUS. This victory now brings SMU to a comfortable position on the top of the table with 2 more games to go.

University Won Lost Draw Bonus Points Total Points
SMU 2 0 0 1 7
NUS 1 1 0 0 3
NTU 0 2 0 1 1

*Sorry but I've left out the Points Scored, Points Conceded & Points Difference as it would not fit the layout of the blog

Match Report

SMU got off to a great start when NUS conceded two tries early in the first half within a space of 10 minutes. Those 2 tries were results of shocking schoolboy errors made by the NUS players. In the 12th minute, SMU was awarded a penalty and Justin Lum's effort sailed wide of the post. Instead of catching the ball and killing it in the try area, NUS players's lack of communication lead to the ball bouncing off the hands of their French fullback. SMU's flanker Tafadzwa L Marasha capitalised on the mistake. He pounced on the loose ball and dived over the line for the first try. Less than 5 minutes later, SMU was awarded a penalty again and in a repeat of what happened moments earlier, Justin Lum's kick sailed wide of the post and this time landed off the head of the French fullback. Winger Alex Chew managed to tap the ball back and this time around, fellow winger Bryan Ng caught the loose ball and dived over the line for his 2nd try in as many games. Justin Lum duly converted and the score was 12-0 to SMU at half time.

NUS was clearly shocked by what had happened. SMU could not have asked for a better start to the game. It was an absolute nightmare-ish 1st half for NUS.

In the 2nd half, it was NUS' turn to pile on the pressure. With SMU lapsing into moments of ill-discipline, NUS seized their chances by going for the quick taps and catching the City Boys on backfoot. It was during this desperate period that NUS picked themselves up and forged on to attack. From a quick tap penalty, NUS captain Keith Oh barged through 3 defender to score. This brought the score to 12-5.

NUS' celebration was short-lived as Justin Lum scored a superb individual try off a defensive scrum in the 58th minute. Justin Lum, who was constantly pressurizing opposite scrumhalf Shafiq Zulazmi throughout the game, managed to knock the ball out of Shafiq Zulazmi's hands. He then picked it up and showed how to finish as he side-stepped through the NUS defence and scored underneath the post. Standoff Derek Chan took over the kicking duties and converted to bring the score to 19-5.

Justin Lum repeated the brilliance a couple of minutes later to score his second try of the game as the City Boys took control at 26-5.

To NUS' credit, they picked themselves up and kept on attacking. SMU then had to play with 14 men when flanker Ruzaini Sani was sin-binned with 10 minutes to go. NUS capitalised on the extra man they had and NUS' scrumhalf Shafiq Zulazmi got a deserved try when he dived over the line in the 71st minutes for a decent dose of consolation.

In the final minute of the game, SMU scored again to make the victory look a reality. This time, skipper Daniel Marc Chow picked the ball off the base of the scrum and attacked blindside. He managed to offload the ball to standoff Derek Chan before being tackled. Derek Chan showed his class when he slid through the gap and slipped a great pass to winger Bryan Ng, who dived over in the corner for his 2nd try of the game. The final whistle was blown after Derek Chan slotted in the conversion, with SMU recording a famous victory over NUS.

Final score: SMU 33 NUS 12

Speaking to SMUrugby News during the post-match conference, senior SMU player Desmond Wee, said:"The result is positive for us, especially since the last game did not go that well for us, but we cannot become overly enthusiastic and must prepare calmly for the home leg next Friday against NUS. Overall, today's performance was incredible. It was a great team effort."

SMU Opens Tri-Unis Campaign With a 11-0 Victory Over NTU

SMU vs NTU (23rd Feb 2009)

Location: SPE

Scoreline: 11-0

Tries: Bryan Ng(1)
Penalties: Josiah Goh (2)

With inspirational skipper Daniel Marc Chow and ferocious flanker Lionel "Robber" Poh out with injuries in the week prior to this game, many pundits predicted that this was going to be a very tight game for SMU. Similarly, the Boon Lay Warriors were also dealt with a major blow to their Tri-Uni campaign with talented stand-off Xu Ren Han being ruled out with an ankle injury for the remainder of the season. This was gonna be a tough and intense game for both sides.

Straight from the kick off, NTU certainly sent out a powerful message when they surprised SMU by turning over possession at the breakdowns as well as driving the SMU forward pack back in the scrums. The Boon Lay Warriors managed to produce some real grunt in their scrum and screwed up the momentum for the City Boys. They made the defending champions look decidedly average and certainly a long way off last season's vintage. The City Boys were their own worst enemies at times. They made some uncharacteristics mistakes that resulted in them being pressured by NTU in their own half for a significant period of the game. The City Boys got a jump start when they were awarded 2 penalties in the first half which scrum-half, Josiah Goh, calmly slotted in to ease the pressure. At half time, the score was 6-0 to SMU.

The most redeeming feature for the SMU side was their change of attitude in the 2nd half. A half-time tactical change by Coach Rong Jing Xiang saw star winger Alex Chew and scrum-half Justin Lum coming on to replace Melvin 'Cheeky' Teo and Josiah Goh. With the substitutions made, there was a noticeable lift in the pace of the match. Justin Lum was able to provide the quick ball out that allow standoff Derek Chan to distribute the ball to the backline. With the score still standing at 6-0, the City Boys finally found the mark with their attack towards the end of the 2nd half when out-centre Desmond 'I'm F**ked Up' Wee broke up in the middle and allowed fellow Sea Games team-mate, Bryan Ng to crash over for a try to end the game 11-0 to SMU's favor.

Speaking to SMUrugby News at the end of the game, stand-in skipper Vickneswaran Sellathurai said, "We were lucky to get a victory here today. It was a below-par performance from us today, especially the forward pack. Credit to the NTU side for pushing us all the way. The only positive thing to take out of the game today was our defence. It is still early in the season and we still have a lot of work to do."

NUS Holds Off NTU In The Opening Match of Tri Unis 2009


Scoreline: 10-17

Location: NTU

Tries: Jayapathma Herathmadhushanka Meranjan (1), Karnjote Singh Daniel (1)

Tries: Keith Oh (1), Elisha Chng (1), Ian Lennard Choo (1)
Conversions: Shafiq Zulazmi (1)

*Due to numerous Mid Term Exams, SMU-rugbynews editors could not provide you a more detailed match report. Thank you for your understanding.