By Rachel Leong (20A01A) and Jermaine Wong (20S03R)
Photos courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
It was the bright, sunny afternoon of 17 January 2020, and the stands in the Saint Andrew’s Junior College (SAJC) stadium were filled with rows of supporters. Rafflesians, from Year 1 RI boys in their orientation shirts to Year 6 councillors with their faces painted green, black, and white, had come to watch what was sure to be an exhilarating match. The stadium was abuzz with anticipation for Kiwi Cup, an annual tradition between the rugby teams of Raffles and SAJC.
On one half of the bleachers, curious SA supporters, clad in red and blue, had gathered by their school field to watch their team play after a long, tiring day of lessons. On the other side of the stands, black, white and green dominated; the Raffles supporters had come a long way to cheer on their team. The electrifying atmosphere was filled with chatter as everyone watched the first game of the tournament, where the teams from the secondary division of both schools battled it out, setting up an exciting background for the second match. Finally, at 3.15 p.m. sharp, the highlight of the day began: the match between the JC teams was about to kick off.
Before the match began, our players huddled together in a tight circle for a final discussion as the crowd cheered them on with their rousing cries of “Raffles! Raffles!”. Their faces lined with steely expressions, the ruggers then lined up and faced the sea of supporters with their arms wound tightly around each others’ backs. The coaches from both teams were invited to walk down the long line of players, graciously encouraging everyone regardless of school, and even stopping occasionally to chat with a few boys.
Once all the players had been greeted, both teams stood still at attention, faces serious and posture ramrod straight. Over the speakers, the Institution Anthem began to blare out, prompting all Rafflesians, ruggers and supporters, to sing along. The team stood tall and firm, their determination to claim victory clearly evident.
The ending of the school songs brought about a rowdy, energetic round of hoots and cheers, with supporters on both sides screaming encouragement with utmost gusto. Against the background of overwhelming support, the teams moved to the lush green expanse of the field, getting into position. In what appeared to be a declaration of war, the SA ruggers re-positioned themselves into a new formation and performed a haka dance, accompanied by loud shouts and body slapping. The cheers of their supporters rang out loud as they moved back into a straight line, and the Raffles ruggers, who had been watching with stony expressions, had their turn to do a cheer in response. Their supporters soon joined in with their enthusiastic cheers of “Unite” and “R-A-F-F-L-E-S”.
The game was off to an intense start; within minutes, players on both teams tackled their opponents unapologetically in their attempts to regain possession of the ball. Soon, the referee’s whistle signalled that a free kick would be awarded to SA, although the Saints ultimately did not manage to score their penalty goal. Reinvigorated, our Rafflesians cheered with renewed fervour every time the ball came near the try line. However, the unforgiving nature of the sport also resulted in several injuries, including one sustained by #5 (Leon Kollart) upon receiving a brutal kick in the head. Despite these setbacks, Team Raffles persevered; after many rough tackles and mauls, #13 (Murugaiah Jayaprakash) snatched the ball and fought through our SA opponents to land a successful try for RI.
Alas, the Rafflesian players’ headstart was short-lived. The Saints quickly caught up by scoring two consecutive tries. Following that, Raffles jostled for the ball before #15 (Jonathan Lim) received it and prepared to kick it into space. That spurred on further hoots from the Rafflesian supporters, who had started cheering with renewed vigour. Extra shouts ensued when, in a show of incredible strength, #10 (Ray Peh) kicked the ball till it flew off-field, narrowing landing right before the stands and the eyes of stunned supporters.
In the blink of an eye, an announcement blared out to signal the start of halftime, giving everyone a much-needed rest. Both teams huddled at the far ends of the fields in a tight circle, intensely discussing strategies. The spectators, meanwhile, grabbed a chance to visit the washrooms or to purchase cold drinks from SA’s drink stall as a respite for the blazing hot weather. Finally, the game restarted, everyone returning to the action with clearer minds.
The players once again resumed the game ferociously, both sides giving it their all. Though the Saints held onto their lead persistently, the Raffles ruggers continued to stubbornly chase the ball. #11 (Spencer Wee) managed to get the ball, but lost his chance to score after being tackled by an opposing player. This prompted the Raffles supporters to start another round of screaming, and the councillors enthusiastically led the school in ear-splittingly loud cheers: “when I say Raffles, you say oh!”. Perhaps motivated by the shouts of his supporters, #15 (Jonathan Lim) successfully stole the ball from the rival team to fervent cheers from the stands. The ball flew around in the air as it was passed from member to member swiftly, first from #11 (Spencer Wee) then to #23 (Joshuan Han). The latter ran into a difficult struggle for the ball with a SA rugger, which unfortunately led to SA’s #12 scoring.
As the rest of the game played on, SA managed to score a few more points. Undeterred, the Rafflesian supporters engaged in round after round of cheers, hoping to encourage their players to not give up. Unfortunately, the last whistle ended the game all too soon. With the final score of 20-5, SA brought home the title of Kiwi Cup victor, snatching away RI’s 2-year winning streak.
Jubilant, the SA team rushed into fierce embraces with one another, while the clearly disheartened Raffles ruggers consoled one another quietly. Both teams gathered at the edge of the field in front of the bleachers, receiving medals from the Kiwi Cup committee. The audience clapped, two sides of the bleachers watching on with conflicting emotions. The Saints were euphoric, cheering on loudly as their team was presented with a large, shiny trophy. Disappointed but nevertheless still proud of the Raffles ruggers, the Rafflesians encouraged them by giving them a final cheer to thank them for their hard efforts. The councillors urged the Raffles supporters to participate in a congratulatory cheer for SA, and shouts for SA rang through the air.
As the sun set on the end of a long game with the sky coloured beautiful shades of gold and orange, the crowd dispersed, the game no doubt the highlight of their Friday. Both sides left with their hearts filled in different ways. Though RI had lost this year’s Kiwi Cup, there was no mistaking the determination in the Raffles ruggers’ eyes. Undoubtedly thinking ahead to next year’s match, they were ready to fight for the champion title of Kiwi Cup 2021. Though it was a difficult game, the Raffles ruggers had certainly displayed strong fighting spirit, never giving up even when the odds were against them. Raffles Press would like to thank and commend the rugby team for their valiant efforts, and to wish them the best of luck in their future matches!
#15 – Jonathan Christopher Lim Shao Hwei — Captain
#11 – Spencer Wee — Vice-captain
#12 – Matthew Ho — Secretary
#1 – Aaron Michael Khoo Jing En
#2 – Nicholas Goh
#3 – Lim Rui Lin Jedidiah
#4 – Ilyas Kurniady Bin Kamsul
#5 – Leon Kollart
#6 – Lee Jhinng Hwee
#7 – Aldrick Ang
#8 – Dennis Xu Zicong
#9 – Seow Wen Jun Patrick
#10 – Peh Chang Fong Ray
#13 – Jayaprakesh
#14 – Jerome Wee Jing Kai
#16 – Heng Wei Ze Nigel
#17 – Jared Ee Chee Wei
#18 – Kyler Teh Kai-En
#20 – Edric Bennett Tan Teng Yau
#21 – Dhanasekaran Janaardhanaprabu
#22 – Shen Mu Kuan
#23 – Joshuan Han Zhu Yi
#24 – Tay Quan Yan
#25 – Kumar Sivaharun
#26 – Muhammad Syuaib Bin Mohd Shafik