By Lim Yong Le (22S03M) and Mirella Ang (22A01C)
Photos courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society.
6 May 2022 was a swelteringly hot day as the MOE Evans Road field stand filled rapidly with eager spectators. The atmosphere was electric. Student Councillors kicked off the drum beat, leading the Rafflesian crowd in a set of boisterous cheers. Not to be outdone, the ACS(I) students, clad in their signature red, blue, and gold responded with a round of their own shouting—testimony to the long-standing ACS(I)-RI rugby rivalry.
This year would mark the latest match in the finals against ACS(I), our long-time rival.
Our first team huddled on the field, finishing their final preparation with a loud holler. Off to the side, members of the second team were still practising passes and short sprints to ensure that they were in top condition for the game.
Tensions were high as the both teams finally stepped onto the field, with our Raffles Rugby players hungry to shatter the ACS(I) legacy and cement their position as the best A Division team in Singapore.
The racket from the stands died down as the first game began. Just as quickly as it died, a series of cheers erupted from the ACSian stands as possession fell towards ACS(I). Despite the heroics of the Rafflesian defenders, a blindingly fast sprint resulted in ACS(I) drawing first blood and scoring a touchdown. With relentless pace, another try soon followed suit, giving ACS(I) a sizable lead over our ruggers.
Unfazed by the spunk shown from the bumblebees, Student Council President Wong Kin Feng (22S03L) led the spectators in a series of “Let’s Go Raffles” cheers. This heralded the beginning of the counterattack as our boys finally struck back with a try of their own. Giving their all in the intense melee, the first few injuries started appearing. A nasty tackle saw Gerald Phang (#3, 22S06R) walking off the field while clutching his shoulder.
Some time after the match started, a group of RI supporters started forming outside the field gates. They were apparently stuck there because they had arrived too late, but were perfectly content screaming their support for the ruggers from outside.
Determined to end the age-old rivalry, Tyler Leong (#25, 23A01F) took matters into his own hands, bulldozing through the ACS defence with unrivalled speed and force. Barely edging the ball over the try line, the crowd looked on with bated breath as the referee deliberated in an agonising moment for the Rafflesian supporters. Raising his hands, the RI stands burst into an uproar as the try was awarded, with many jumping to their feet to scream out “Raffles Dynamite”.
From the incredibly high jump performed by Dhanasekeran Janaardhanaprabu (#21, 22S03L) to the remarkable try by speedy player Kyler Teh (#4, 23S03B), the ruggers indeed wowed the crowd at several points in the game.
RI was the clear underdog, but we put up a really good fight—ACS(I) might be more technically skilled, but RI had better moments of brilliance.Jonathan Lim (23A01B), one of the Rafflesian supporters standing outside
A highlight of the match was when Nigel Heng (#13, 22S06U) snatched the ball and sped across the field, deftly evading his attackers.
There were several extremely close tries, too—which resulted in the crowd literally going wild. Team captain Patrick Seow (#9, 22S03K), said later: “The supporters really helped out there, on the field. It gave us that last bit of extra strength.”
After an intense back and forth, Raffles Ruggers scored a total of 4 tries and 2 conversions in both games, earning them a total of 24 points. Unfortunately, they were beaten by a single try, with ACS(I) scoring a total of 29 points.
Mr Frederick Yeo said of the match, “I was very impressed by the indomitable spirit as shown by our ruggers. They trained very hard during the pandemic and did their best in the match against ACS(I). We are so very proud of them.”
The rugby coach, Mr Mark Lee, felt the same way. “Being on the rugby field itself is [already] a success,” he said of his team.
It was a fantastic spectacle of rugby and I’m very proud of them. They were rock stars out there.Mr Mark Lee, RI’s rugby coach
After the presentation of medals, the tired yet rightfully proud ruggers lined up in front of the stands. A lone voice, originating from one of the ruggers, quickly multiplied as the Rafflesians present all echoed the Institution Anthem. With the last lyrics, “with God to guide the way”, fading out, a sense of solidarity washed over everyone present.
Was this the glorious victory that we had hoped for? Unfortunately, no.
Yet, the valiant struggle and camaraderie displayed by the ruggers was an awe-inspiring performance that resonated with everyone present. Heads held high, they departed as winners in their own right.
And as Patrick put it, if you don’t succeed at first?
Try and try again.
Rugby Sub-Team 1
#9 – Seow Wen Jun Patrick (22S03K) — Captain
#3 – Phang Wei Shuen Gerald (22S06R)
#4 – Kyler Teh Kai-En (23S03B)
#10 – Ang Rui Liang Tristan (23S06H)
#11 – Mohammed Haziq Bin Mohammed Fa (22S03B)
#12 – Muhammad Ashraff Bin Mohd Anis (22S06I)
#14 – Sia Jing Heng Jevan (23S06E)
#15 – Ilyas Kurniady Bin Kamsul (23A01F)
#18 – Gangisetty Venkata Datta Sai (23S02B)
#22 – Shen Mu Kuan (22S06I)
#24 – Mohammed Danish Khan Bin Mohammed Noor Khan (23S03G)
#25 – Tyler James Leong (23A01F)
Rugby Sub-Team 2
#8 – Lee Jhinng Hwee (22S03P) — Vice-captain
#1 – Kumar Sivaharun (22S03B)
#2 – Ho Shih Yu (23S06G)
#5 – Ang Xi Ning Daniel (22S03N)
#7 – Cruz Chan Jun Kai (22S06F)
#13 – Heng Wei Ze Nigel (22S06U)
#15 – Joshua Han Zhu Yi (22S03D)
#17 – Jerome Wee Jing Kai (22S06I)
#20 – Mark Lee Jun Kai (23S03P)
#21 – Dhanasekeran Janaardhanaprabu (22S03L)
#23 – Tan Tze Kai, Dylan (23S06C)
#24 – Edric Bennett Tan Teng Yau (22S06O)