The report of the fight and confrontation between the rugby teams of Saint Andrew’s Secondary School and Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) was simply shocking and deplorable. Beyond the police reports and investigations, it is imperative for the Singapore Rugby Union to work closely with the involved institutions and students to mete out the necessary actions to reiterate the strong stance against any form of aggression or hostility.
The physical nature of rugby as a competitive sport and the high emotions associated with the rivalry or the intense exchanges cannot be accepted as justifications for the tussles and scuffles after the final whistle. Under any circumstance – on or off the pitch – the engagement of the fists or any form of violence reflects the gross lack of class, sportsmanship and respect for the sport.
Naturally, it takes two hands to clap. There have been assertions on the ground from bystanders and spectators that verbal abuse – and possibly taunts – had been hurled between the players of the teams, which eventually led to the ugly spectacle. While the violent behaviour of the aggressors cannot be condoned, investigations should be made by the relevant authorities if antagonism had been built up from the aforementioned verbal exchanges. Thereafter, a consolidated report should be published so that the general public does not establish misguided assumptions based on an assortment of on-line commentaries and reports.
Right now, representatives from both schools should graciously and speedily express sincere apologies for the events that unfolded, and accept responsibility for the chaos. Even though the students were the main perpetrators, the coaches and parents cannot absolve themselves from any form of blame: given their important roles in shaping the players’ moral behaviours and characters. Bans – and disciplinary or even legal action – should undoubtedly be taken against the individuals who involved themselves physically. Most importantly, both institutions should not allow this unfortunate one-off event to mar relations and partnerships in other areas.
Hopefully, this would prove to be a one-off event that would serve as a useful warning that violence and sports never do complement one another; and the consequences are clear for any athlete who believes and acts otherwise. With Singapore desiring to establish itself as a regional sports hub, sporting violence – from the players or the spectators – can never be condoned.
A version of this article was published in The Straits Times.