Three years after suffering the anguish of relegation, the Singapore Under-19 rugby team bounced back in style to beat Thailand in the Asia Rugby U-19 Division I final.
The national team, coached by Zaki Mahmood, upset the hosts 19-15 at the Bang-Bon Stadium in Bangkok on Friday to win the title for the first time.
The win means Singapore are promoted to the 2020 Championship, where they will compete for a spot at the World Rugby U-20 Trophy.
Hailing the achievement as a “job done”, Singapore Rugby Union chief operating officer Douglas Danapal said: “This is a great win to end the year for Singapore rugby. Playing away from home is never easy.
“The result, in my opinion, was never in doubt but we did make it difficult for ourselves.
“The boys had been training well under the guidance of our young coaching and management team of Zaki, (assistant coach) Ashraf Mohamed Nasser, (team manager) Yazid (Rosli) and (high performance head) Song Zichun.”
Friday’s triumph was a far cry from the dismal scenes in 2015 when the team were trounced 61-10 by Hong Kong at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium and dropped down to Asian Division II.
But that disappointment was erased in Thailand’s capital on Friday as tries from Liam Postlethwaite and Bryan Liau, as well as four penalties from Hidayat Jeffrydin, sank the hosts.
Singapore beat China 36-5 in the semi-finals on Tuesday, with Umar Sha’ari scoring two of their six tries as they set up the final with Thailand. The other participating team in the quadrangular was the Philippines.
Danapal added: “The team’s superior technical ability and conditioning showed at the end.
“This is a good platform for us to kick on from, but right now we will savour the win and celebrate with the boys when they return.”
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