Don't get me wrong. Its not that the players are not as fast or as strong as the players of the past - because with the modern game of rugby, most players of today's modern game are definitely stronger, faster, (talented? I will not be so sure about that.)
But the problem of today is that something has been SERIOUSLY lost over the years. And I am personally not sure, what it is. Looking at photos of the 90s warms my heart as I ponder of how enjoyable it must have been to be playing rugby in that era, where players were great friends on and off the pitch, who held mutual respect for one another, even if they played for different clubs. These players, who even up till today (after retirement), still remain as good pals and have so much love for the game in every goodness of it all.
Today many Singapore players and rugby fans have moaned of the many changes that Singapore rugby has had to deal with over the last decade, for example the ever changing faces of people in the top management, to people embezzling the Singapore Rugby union's funds, to a surprising resignation of a Technical Director with his bags all packed at the airport, to a local walkout protesting against preferential treatment to expatriate players, to great players being forced to retire or quit the game due to politics, to having a team with more expatriates than the previous year (with every year), to the ever changing expatriate talent that last for one season and are gone the next....Yes...the list really does go on. And in the end the people who or what suffers, is the future of Singapore rugby, where our very own talent that have been nurtured and grown in our backyard are left to wither and die, without ever being noticed or being brought to its fullest potential.
Where are the players who held so much potential in their school days?! Players who I personally witnessed and heard so much about, players like Grant Sani, Steedon Jessup, Ravi Shankar, Anil Singh, Li Rencong, John Pates!, Kenneth Lim, Tobias Ang, Anand Chandran, Tan Mian Yi, ...and this is really just to name a few off the top of my head, (and I am sure I have missed out many others,and you could probably add on). The problem about Singapore rugby, is NOT that we lack talent or even the HEART to play the game, because year after year you can see for yourself young players laying down their body and heart for their respective schools in the Nationals. The problem is we lack a system that will help us hold on to these precious unpolished jewels.
Gone are the days, where young boys in secondary school should aspire to be a national player, cause sadly they do not realize that it isn't so simple just being a National Rugby Player, especially in Singapore. With a National team squad with a 'turnover' rate that could possibly match the ongoing global economic recession, kids grow up not knowing that all these ideas of being a National Player isn't as straightforward as they imagined, nor as professional as they might have envisioned it to be.
Players of today either forget many things or grow up not having the privilege to know many things of the past of Singapore rugby- for instance, that almost more than a decade ago, there was a time
- where Singapore U16s thrashed Hongkong's U16 34-5 at Chinese High Secondary School.
- where a Singapore Under 23 side, beat a Hongkong Under 23 at Padang.
- where Greenridge Secondary School rule the National school rugby scene.
- where a school finals had to be decided by sudden death penalty kicks.
- where Thailand gave Singapore a walk over during the ARFU division 2 competition because Singapore had 4 expatriate players and refused to withdraw them. (this was after training for 11 months for it)
Players of today, forget that they play the game for the love of the game, and not for the development of their own ego. Players of today, lack the mentality or the art of stringing a series of passes and celebrating a well-worked team try together.
People forget many things as they evolve as players, but as we move forward to our own ways, as players and as gentlemen of the sport, I urge that we do not forget the long history of players that have come before us, and what they have achieved, and to remember that there was a time where players of this country, played for the love of the game, and represented Singapore for the love of this country.
Hopefully, some day...things will change to what they used to be in those glory 90s.