A national rugby 7’s player (R) during last month’s 2016 Borneo Sevens Rugby Tournament match against Blowpipe Panthers of Malaysia. Picture: Courtesy of John Beart
BY AK FAUZI PG SALLEH
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - NATIONAL rugby coach John Beart said that finishing fifth out of the seven teams competing at today’s Southeast Asia (SEA) Rugby Sevens Series in Singapore is a realistic target for the team - if they play to their maximum potential.
Brunei is pooled in Group A alongside Indonesia, Laos and Singapore while Group B is made up of Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. The top two teams in each group will proceed to the semi-finals, while the remaining teams will compete in play-off matches to determine their position in the tournament.
“The real purpose of joining this tournament is to close our level or standard on the stronger unions in the region,” Beart said in an interview yesterday.
“The team lacks experience because of logistics and financial difficulties to support the team to compete overseas ahead of the tournament… So instead, our main target is to see improvement in performance.
“Performance will be based on how cohesive the team is, their success rate at tackles, their line outs, scrums, line breaks and of course, overall competition at the breakdown.
“If we play as well as we can and still get outclassed by more experienced teams, I will still be pleased.
“I hope we can get into our groove and play to our maximum potential and win a few games.
“To finish fifth out of the seven teams competing will be a realistic bonus based on where Brunei currently stands in the development of the sport,” said Beart.
Brunei will kick off their campaign today against Laos at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium.
They will then face Indonesia before meeting host Singapore in their final group stage match.
“We have Singapore, Laos and Indonesia in our group, so we will play three games and another positional play-off game to determine our position,” continued Beart.
“We have prepared well for this tournament, and we must thank JBS (the Department Youth and Sports) for providing us a field in Tutong to train on,”
“The boys are confident and focused ahead of the games tomorrow (today).
“They have learnt a lot of lessons from Sandakan last month and I hope they can do themselves justice,” he added.
The national team competed at last month’s 2016 Borneo Sevens Rugby Tournament in Sandakan, Sabah, where they lost all their games.
Brunei started their campaign with a 57-0 defeat to hosts and eventual champions Borneo Eagles and followed that up with a 59-0 loss to Charis Rugby from Australia at the Borneo Eagles Rugby Field in Bandar Utama in Sandakan.
They fell 66-0 to Blowpipe Panthers from Malaysia in their third match before going down 54-0 to Pally Pirates from Australia in their fourth match.
Brunei closed their group stage campaign with a 38-0 defeat to Belgium Barbarian and were relegated to play in the shield category, where they lost 29-7 to ATM Blackhawks.
The SEA Rugby Sevens Series tournament is being held on the same weekend as the Singapore Sevens, the eighth of 10 global stops this year.
Rugby 7’s is making its Olympics debut in this year’s edition in Rio in August.
-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times