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Interviews: Rugby greats tackle Singapore’s new National Stadium

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Singapore’s new 55,000-seat National Stadium kicked off with the Rugby World Club 10s. Photos: World Club 10s.

Rugby greats PIRI WEEPU, STEPHEN LARKHAM and MIKAELE PESAMINO gave their views on Singapore’s new 55,000-seat National Stadium as it played host to the first World Club 10s.

 

Interviews by SportAsia

 

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Weepu, 30, captained Blues to victory in the World Club 10s.

PIRI WEEPU (New Zealand)

Scrumhalf, Blues

Won 2011 Rugby World Cup

Won 71 caps from 2004 to 2012

 

What do you think about the overall set-up of the new National Stadium?

It’s a great atmosphere and it’s not as hot as it is outside. I guess it would be awesome to have a full house, to see what the extra atmosphere would be like, but it’s still a great stadium to be in. I would put it up there with a few I’ve played in before. The atmosphere itself and the whole stadium is pretty good. It’s up there.

 

What about having the retractable roof in a country as hot as Singapore? Has it been effective?

It definitely has. It definitely has. I’ve spoken to a few of the London Welsh boys and they were talking about how it’s quite hot outside and the sun would make things difficult, so playing here in the stadium makes things a lot cooler. At some stage, there may open the roof and they’ll have a stadium full of spectators to witness a game.

 

What are your thoughts on the pitch, especially the sand?

The sand’s not affecting our play, but sometimes people are getting caught with a bit of sand in their eyes and things like that. That’s probably the only thing that’s making things difficult, but other than that, everyone’s having a good time. We’re playing here for a reason, so no matter what the conditions, whether it’s a different field or not, the boys are happy to play. Everyone’s been able to run around. The only issue is when people get sand in their eyes, but that’s about it.

 

Singapore has bid for a Sevens World Series event. Do you think the stadium is suitable for such an event?

Yes. I think it just needs buy-in from the city itself. I know it’s not exactly easy and things aren’t cheap in terms of ticket prices and things like that. If Singapore did have it, I’m pretty sure people would get involved in it.

 

It’s your first time in Singapore. What are your impressions of the city and its efforts to develop rugby?

It’s making a great effort. A few of the boys have made a good effort to have a good look around, so we’ve been trying to see a few of the sights. All the boys are pretty happy to be here and it’s the first time for most of us.

 

 

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Larkham at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Photo: AFP.

STEPHEN LARKHAM (Australia)

Head Coach, Brumbies

Won 1999 Rugby World Cup

Won 102 caps from 1996 to 2007

 

What are your overall thoughts on the inaugural Club World 10s?

I think the quality of this competition is one of the better ones going around. Obviously it’s in its infancy here in the first year, with a few teething problems as you’d expect and as you saw last year in London, but it’s a beautiful city and it’s a beautiful stadium and there’s huge potential for rugby in Singapore.

 

What are your thoughts on the new stadium and the retractable roof, which has covered the action this weekend?

They’ve done a fantastic job with the stadium. We’re outside, but it’s about 24 degrees inside the stadium so it’s bearable, as opposed to outside the stadium where it’s about 32 degrees and 100 per cent humidity.

 

Do you see Singapore as a potential hub for developing rugby in Asia, hosting these types of events in the future?

I think there’s a lot of potential for Singapore. It’s close to sort of everywhere. It’s close to Australia and it’s closer to South Africa than most other places in this region. It’s got the island influence in here and it’s close to Japan, which is another huge rugby hub, so it’s located well on the globe. With the stadium the way it is now, I think there’s huge potential.

 

Do you see this as a potential venue for a Sevens World Series event?

Yes, without a doubt. For the Sevens World Series, I guess the only thing you’d need is a few fields out the back or nearby. You can’t just have the one ground because there are so many games going on in the background, but what a beautiful city to host an event on the IRB circuit.

 

 

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Pesamino, 30, starred for Samoa Water President’s 10.

MIKAELE PESAMINO (Samoa)

Won 2009-10 HSBC Sevens World Series

Top try scorer, 2009-10 HSBC Sevens World Series

IRB Sevens Player of the Year 2010

 

What do you think of Singapore’s new National Stadium?

I travel a lot around the world, representing Samoa in sevens, but this is the first time ever in my life that I’ve played in this kind of stadium, with a roof on the top. There’s a great feeling from the crowd. It’s an awesome atmosphere, here in Singapore.

 

Would this be a good venue for a Sevens World Series event?

Exactly, especially because there’s no sunshine during the day. It’s a good atmosphere here.

 

How does the roof help?

The temperature outside is the same as where we come from, in Samoa, but inside here, where we play under the roof, it was cool and all right to play.

 

What about the sand in the astroturf? Is it fine to play on?

The pitch … is no different from the other pitches, except for the sand. Still, you can run on it.

 

You helped the Dragons invitation side win last year’s SCC Sevens in Singapore. Do you think rugby tournaments can grow in Singapore?

Singapore is a great country and great for developing rugby, not only in Singapore but also in Asia and for Asian people.

 

Interviews conducted at 2014 Rugby World Club 10s

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