When coach Peerose Shah first took charge of the Republic Polytechnic rugby team in 2018, the team was in disarray. It finished fourth in the POL-ITE Championships in 2018 and there was a lack of discipline in the team.
“There was a lack of direction and there were no leaders amongst players. Everyone just came whenever they wanted and operations were not run well,” Peerose said.
Two years on, the team has witnessed a dramatic transformation and exceeded the expectations of most by finishing second at the 2019/20 POL-ITE Championships behind Temasek Polytechnic (TP). The RP team had finished fourth in its previous campaign.
“I’m happy and satisfied with the result, even though we came close to coming first. It’s really a bummer to lose against TP but I believe that we can move on from here,” said captain and freshman Naufal Fitri.
To prepare for the 2019/20 POL-ITE Championship, the team trained three times a week for three hours each time. Even during the holidays, the team sacrificed their Saturdays to work towards their goal of success in the championship. Training focused on reinforcing fundamentals, such as ball skills, and drills to execute set plays.
“What we do on the field is a reflection of what we do in training,” said Peerose, a former Singapore international. He also credited the support of Office of Student and Graduate Affairs staff members Ben Tan and Gary Su who form the backbone of the support team.
“The belief in the team was strong, everyone knew that they wanted to make a difference and everyone wanted to show that the effort put in during training was not just for nothing,” said second-year Diploma in Financial Technology student Syukry Salim.
The team hopes to build on its recent improvement by attracting new players to come on board.
“My vision for RP would be a team that’s dominant in terms of schools’ rugby in Asia. RP as an institution has loads of potential to achieve many things, beyond other schools, due to infrastructure,” Peerose said.
He added: “There’s a chance for anyone to come into the squad, if they’re willing to work hard enough. It’s an equal opportunity for them to fight for their spot.”