This weekend promises to be a sporting weekend. There are three major events on this our little island. There’s the 57th Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens at the Padang, the Wakeboarding World Cup at Bedok Reservoir, and the Corporate Triathlon at wherever it is they hold triathlons.
I want to watch the SCC Sevens because I haven’t watched one in ages. It’s a palatable rugby carnival for non-rugby nuts, given the simplified 7-a-side format (as opposed to 15s), with a picnic atmosphere. It used to be an even more picnicky event, with the old Satay Club across the road from the Padang. This year, as with previous years, rugby clubs from around the world will compete in games lasting a maximum of twenty minutes, so spectators would be able to watch a dozen games in a day. I remember playing for college in the schools section (Sithawalla & John Clarke trophies) of the competition, and waiting behind the goal posts for the opposing team to kick one of their many conversions, and hearing my stomach growl when I smelled the satay from across the street. Then when the opposing team’s player kicked the conversion, one of us would have to run across the road, dodging traffic, to pick up the ball from the Satay Club. Once a while, an unfortunate Vespa rider would get knocked off his scooter by the ball.
Oh, and there’ll be lots of beer, and lots of female spectators accompanying those banking industry type blokes who are happy to have them accompany the beer, even if they keep asking a lot of dumb questions like why the referee stops the game when the ball is dropped forward by one of the players.
Rugby nuts (like myself) like to repeat the silly slogan that Rugby is the Game They Play In Heaven, and rugby at the Padang comes close. All sporting events should be like that, in the midst of the bustle of the city, as if to show that life doesn’t have to stop for sport, because sport is part of life. It’s a pity they’ve not played the National Schools Rugby Championships at the Padang for a decade now. It used to be so grand with City Hall and the Supreme Court across from the main field, and St Andrews Cathedral down the road a little. We’d get stage fright just taking the field. There’d be office workers and other passers by stopping to watch for a bit, sometimes staying the whole game. There’d be people in double decker buses pointing and sometimes cheering. So distracting, so exciting.
What’s even better about this year’s SCC Sevens is that my favourite rugby club in the whole wide world, Randwick, is competing for the first time in several years. Randwick is the suburb I lived in in Sydney, and the club’s home ground is just as unassuming – one block, one patch of grass next to McDonald’s Coogee Beach. No fences, no stadium, and no lights. I used to walk from my apartment to watch them play Saturdays (until I had to play for my own club on Saturdays), their first-grade team bristling with players who represented Australia as well, and you were so close to the field could almost touch them.
The Wakeboarding World Cup will also be watched by banking industry blokes accompanied by female spectators asking silly questions, and I might join them in asking silly questions. I’ve not watched wakeboarding before, much less participated as a wakeboarder. I hear so much about wakeboarding from my friends who remain surprised I don’t wakeboard. Before that, I always thought being dragged around behind a boat only happened in accidents. I might just pop by to take a look, and then decide whether to get some of my chio gerfrens to teach me to wakeboard, much the same way they taught me to play pool.
Triathlon? Fun to watch meh? Stand in one place and everyone either cycles, runs or swims past you, depending on where you’re standing.
I think there’s only enough of the weekend to catch two out of three, and you know which two I’ll be going to watch.
*This Sporting Life stars Richard Harris, who in real life played rugby for Munster before a severe bout of TB halted his sporting life and he took up acting. Harris resumed his playing career in 2002.