A South Africa rugby player tackles a France player during their Sevens match in England on Saturday. Malaysia are requesting a test match with the South Africa team next week in preparation for the Commonwealth Games in July. - AFP
PETALING JAYA: A match with the Springboks in South Africa later this month is on the cards for the Malaysian rugby Sevens team.
Malaysian Sevens manager Fahmy Jalil is arranging the match as part of the team’s build-up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland (July 23-Aug 3) and Incheon Asian Games in South Korea (Sept 19-Oct 4).
If everything goes according to plan, the team will play the Springboks in Cape Town during their stint there from May 19-29.
“We have never played South Africa before. Now, we have a chance to play them,” said Fahmy.
“We were supposed to play a tournament in Paris, but the spots were all booked. I have a friend who works as a trainer with the Springboks. I got in touch with him and we’ve asked if we can train and play a few friendly matches as well as one match with the Springboks. We’ll know by this Wednesday whether the match is on or not,” he added.
Malaysia’s preparations towards the two Games began in February with a stint in Australia with the Western Force Rugby Union in Perth. They also played matches against the Cockburn Sevens and Margaret River Sevens. Then, they competed in the Malaysia Rugby Union’s Super League (Feb 22- March 20) followed by the Super Cup (April 30-May 3).
“Playing the Springboks is a huge challenge for us. We’re not putting any expectations but you have to start somewhere and this will undoubtedly be a great way for us to learn how to raise our game and keep improving,” said Fahmy.
“Finding opportunities to play Sevens rugby don’t come easy because most of the countries that play Sevens are in the Commonwealth. So if we manage this, it’ll be great for the team,” he added.
“We’re already shortlisted 12 players, and these are our best 12. They’ve already had a great start to the year with a stint in Australia and then they got to play in the Super League. Fitness wise, they are all right. Now, we’re looking into improving our game play and just keep that momentum going.”
Malaysia face a stern test in the Commonwealth Games as they have been drawn in Group C with Wales, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.
On paper, they have a better chance at the Asiad. At the last Asiad in Guangzhou, China, in 2010, Malaysia finished a creditable fifth after beating Sri Lanka 27-7.