IN WHAT could have been just another National Day celebration for some 200 former boarding school students, their participation in the CGC Merdeka Midnight Rugby Meet turned out to be a memorable one.
Ten teams were part of the veteran’s night rugby tournament that ushered in the National Day celebrations at Universiti Putra Malaysia organised by Home of Warriors Rugby Club (STJ-HOW), the alumni of SM Sains Tuanku Jaafar, Negri Sembilan, and sponsored by the Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC).
But the tournament was more than just a competition among alumni of premier schools, it also served as a gathering for long-lost friends and a platform to rekindle nostalgia while playing their favourite sport.
The long weekend certainly helped bolster the occasion with some guests coming with their families from as far as Perak and Johor to be part of the rugby action and catch up with friends.
Kicking off from 7pm and 20 matches later past the stroke of midnight, the SM King Edward VII, Perak alumni team Edwardian Legends were crowned the champions of the inaugural Midnight Rugby Meet.
Even though they were well-matched, the Edwardian Legends were able to edge out Sekolah Datuk Abdul Razak, Negri Sembilan (SDAR Vets) with one try (5-0) after capitalising on their mistake during the passionately-fought Cup final.
For Edwardian Legends team manager Mohd Fadlan Hafiz, the final match may as well have been a fixture that was supposed to have taken place 20 years ago when both sides were all but set to clash in a final but did not take place.
“We were rivals during school days, and in 1998, we were supposed to meet them in one of the finals but it was SPM year, we couldn’t play because it was nearing to the examinations.
“We didn’t meet then but we did tonight, and it feels great to have won. But the main thing for us veterans is we just want to gather as we don’t get to see each other much,” Mohd Fadlan said.
Gracious in defeat, SDAR manager Shahis Othman applauded the Edwardian Legends for a good final.
“We played well for most of the matches but a last minute mistake in the final cost us the match, but of course the champions played well too,” he said.
“Second place is okay for us because our main intention was to have a reunion of our former school players from the three different eras – the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s,” he added.
“We want to thank CGC and STJ-HOW for organising what I believe is the first midnight tournament for veterans.
The other eight participating teams were STJ-HOW, ALSPEN Stingers RC (Alumni SMS Tun Syed Shahabudin, Penang), KKB Vets (Alumni SM Kuala Kubu Baru), MCOBA Vets (Alumni Malay College Kuala Kangsar, Perak), OPA (Alumni Royal Military College, KL), SAJOHA Vets (Alumni Sekolah Sains Johor), SMSSOB (Alumni SM Sains Selangor) and VI Legends (Alumni Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur).
Each team played three matches to determine their rankings before moving on to the finals for five trophies: Cup, Plate, Bowl, Shield and Spoon.
This National Day, CGC chose to have something in line with the Communications and Multimedia Ministry’s “Sayangi Malaysiaku” (Love My Malaysia) theme and include a nurturing element for participants and its clients.
“This time, we thought the theme coincides well with loving yourself better and healthy living which brought us to sports, and when STJ-HOW came to us with the idea of having a senior rugby tournament at night which also coincided with the National Day, everything just clicked,” CGC chief corporate officer Rahim Raduan explained.
“Looking at the turnout and the initial response, we are very pleased with it and hope to have it again next year.
“It is not just the players who are here but their families are here too, bonding and having fun.
He also added that the event covered CGC’s objectives to help expose and grow their customers’ businesses by inviting them as vendors at the event and at the same time, showcase them to the public.
Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Eddin Syazlee Shith and CGC president and chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Zamree Mohd Ishak presented the prizes to the winning teams.
“CGC is proud and honoured to sponsor this rugby tournament which coincides with the National Day celebration. Sports unites people, builds teams and promotes healthy living. There are similarities in core values promoted by sports and CGC’s key principles.
“Sports also promotes teamwork, requires commitment, builds integrity and nurtures talent. These elements represent CGC’s values and our mission to grow and nurture MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises),” said Mohd Zamree.
Organising committee chairman Megat Mohammad Faisal Khir Johari said the tournament had initially 16 entrants but due to the limited time they were allotted, they could accommodate only 10 teams this time.
“Tournaments like this are usually self-funded but we are honoured to have CGC on board as the title sponsor.
“Rugby is known as the number one sport in boarding schools and rugby alumni play an important role in the development of the sport in the country. STJ-HOW and other alumni, especially ex ruggers, assist their respective school teams by organising coaching sessions and raising funds for rugby teams to participate in local and international rugby competitions.”
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