By Lezann Lee (23A01C) and Joy Tan (23A01D)
Photos Courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
The afternoon of 5th August saw Saint Andrew’s Junior College (SAJC) greeted by a flood of impassioned rugby players trotting to the field with gusto, all primed for victory.
Moments before the match, the Raffles Ruggers, clad in their signature green, black and white, held a team huddle. With their arms wound tightly around each other’s backs, they bent forward in earnest to give ear to their Team Captain, Tyler Leong (#12, 23A01F), before ending off with a resounding war cry.
Not to be outdone, SAJC’s team assembled, performing the Hakka – a ceremonial dance in Maori culture – in recognition of the Kiwi Cup, a challenge trophy donated by former New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore in 1967.
The Kiwi Cup is an annual tradition for the two rugby powerhouses of Raffles Institution and Saint Andrew’s School – this 2022 marked the spirited return of the cup after it had been suspended earlier last year, owing to Covid-19. “It is one of the biggest highlights of the year for any Raffles Rugger, right up there with the A division,” said Isaiah Lee (23A01C).
“This year, however, the cup had an even bigger importance for us. Back in 2020, we had lost the cup to Saints on the very same field after a heartbreaking match. This 2022, we were determined to take it back, for both our seniors and for Raffles,” he continued.
To great fanfare and boisterous cheers resonating from the stands, the teams assumed formation, their steely expressions a promise to their supporters of a match worth watching – that they would spare no expense in their bid to decimate their opponent.
With a strong kick-off by Tristan Ang (#10, 23S06H), the game began. The atmosphere in the stadium tensed as the crowd watched on, eager to see what would ensue, each side hoping fervently that the game would end in their favour.
Within minutes, it was clear that Raffles was off to a strong start – Dylan Tan (#9, 23S06C) had landed a secure try, instantly placing his team in the lead. Resounding cheers erupted from the Rafflesian side of the stands, our supporters thrilled at having stolen the first try of the game.
In spite of the fierce opposition from the Saints, the second try was soon scored again by Raffles’ Captain Tyler Leong (#12, 23A01F), shortly after a failed kick attempt by the SA team.
The crowd fell silent as Raffles geared up for a conversion, then watched with bated breath as an explosive kick by Tristan Ang secured a perfect conversion, sending the ball soaring on a flawless trajectory, high over the centre of the posts.
The score stood at 14-0, in favour of Raffles. Despite this, the Saints pushed on relentlessly, serving great tackles and putting up strong defences, leaving little leeway for their opponents to push forward. The commendable tactics employed by the Saints scored them their first try and conversion, pulling the scores closer to 14-7.
As the game drew on, both teams continued to hold up strong. School cheers resounded again and again, spurring on the players to give their all for their respective schools. Then, with a tight defence and remarkable teamwork, Raffles scores yet another try, bringing the scoreline to 19-7.
At the blow of the final whistle, the crowd erupted.
The scoreline was 21-14, in RI’s favour. The Raffles Rugby players raced across the field, embracing each other in triumph. It was a historic moment for them: they were the first Raffles team in nearly two decades to defeat SA on their homeground.
For some on the Raffles Team, this Kiwi Cup would have been their first 15s match in more than 2 years – for the rest, it would have been their very first time playing 15s. This, however, did not dampen their resolve. Backed with the unwavering support of their fellow Rafflesians in the stands, the players stood their ground tirelessly against SAJC’s unrelenting offence, determined to finish the game well – and they did!
It was no mean feat – the jitters from their bandaged knees betrayed the wave of lethargy that had gradually washed over them after an afternoon of putting on a valiant, relentless fight. As Nathan Singgih (#33, 23A01E) said in recollection, “We faced some unexpected challenges, but eventually reclaimed our victory”.
Lining up before the stands, arms round each other’s shoulders, they nonetheless beamed with utmost pride, their final bow a show of gratitude for the fervent Rafflesian supporters who had come a long way to cheer them on.
Donning their gold medals, the team basked in the glory of their success, revelling in the heaps of praise that enveloped them. As the event drew to a close, the team exchanged congratulations with their SA counterparts as they took several pictures together, in celebration of what would most definitely be an afternoon to remember.
Raffles Press would like to congratulate the Rugby team for their outstanding victory!
#12 – Tyler James Leong (23A01F)–Captain
#9 – Tan Tze Kai Dylan (23S06C)–Vice-Captain
#1 – Rafael Low Ren Xiang (4H)
#2 – Gao Hua Jun (3I)
#3 – Ernest Matthias Yap Tse Meng (4E)
#4 – Lu Yuan Xi (3I)
#5 – Huang Jiawen Peter (3L)
# 7 – Ho Shih-Yu (23S06G)
#8 – Kyler Teh Kai-En (23S03B)
#10 – Ang Rui Liang Tristan (23S06H)
#11 – Enzo Senna McCully (23A01F)
#13 – Mohammad Haziq Bin Mohammad Azhar (23S05A)
#14 – Lee Jing Keane (23S06O)
#16 – Jordan Lee Zhao Feng (4B)
#17 – Ong Rei Hong (3H)
#18 – Liu Zhe Ming (3D)
#20 – Mohammed Danish Khan Bin Mohammed Noor Khan (23S03G)
#22 – Lim Zong Shen (Titus) (4M)
#23 – Luke Chai Rong Yan (4B)
#24 – Mark Lee Jun Kai (23S03P)
#25 – Ryan Tan Yuming (3G)
#27 – Jayden Tan Junjie (4K)
Isaiah Lee Ting You (23A01C)
Nathan Harrison Singgih (23A01E)
#15 – Gangisetty Venkata Datta Sai (23S02B)
Yeo Shan Yuan Keane (3A)
Eugene Leong Zuo Wei (3A)
Prawin Kuhanesan (3C)
#21 – Leong Jun Loong Benjamin (3E)