Compared to its rowdier counterparts in cities like Hong Kong, the Singapore Sevens Rugby Tournament is billed as the “Family 7s”. What a perfect venue for an unwed, childless, American to see their first rugby game; I’m referring to myself in case it wasn’t implied. However, as an American, I love a good sports game no matter what it is so when I had the opportunity to attend this event, I was psyched! I brought a friend along who is a frothing at the mouth rugby fan which really helped me try to discern what this strange version of the NFL was all about. I arrived in Singapore on a Friday night for my weekend of sports. I normally don’t include stuff in my writing about the hotels I stay in, but this trip warrants an exception.
First of all, in my past life, I worked in corporate America and stayed in some pretty swank hotels. Now, I’m a teacher. No one becomes a teacher to get rich so trying to find a teacher-priced hotel in Singapore was a challenge. I ended up splurging a little and getting a great deal at the Carlton City Hotel, which was 4 stars more than hotels I have been staying in as of late. I justified the splurge because I was splitting the cost and hey, I gotta live a little. I was greeted at the airport by the hotel driver and asked to wait a minute while he got the car. I specifically remember my friend asking what kind of car it would be; I replied, probably just a Toyota or something. Nope, it was a brand-new Mercedes. It was literally the nicest car I have ever been in; I think it was from the year 2025.
Upon An American’s first rugby experience by Jocelyn Pollak check-in, the hotel manager greeted me and asked if it would be alright if they upgraded me into the Executive Club Room. Um, no that’s not a problem at all. Oh, and did I mention, free alcohol from 6-8PM. Everything about this hotel was awesome: location, pool, breakfast, service, room, sky bar and the fact that we didn’t have to spend $16 for a beer. It was a really unexpected jewel of the trip. I’ve still got the shampoos and lotions to remember it next time I’m in a slimy hostel shower; come on, we all take these free bottles, not just us teachers.
The next morning, we were up bright and early so that we didn’t miss the start of the tournament. When we arrived at the stadium (via subway like normal people), there were all sorts of family friendly activities set up. The popular Spartan race had an obstacle course that looked like a seven year old’s dream day. I spotted a ball pit and all the exhibitor booths had family centred contests and games. If I had kids, this would be a somewhat ideal venue to take them to. The stadium is impeccably clean and safe, it is Singaporean after all, and I still can’t understand the physics of how it is air conditioned while one end zones is totally open to the sky.
Compared to my usual stadium experience at home (100+ year old Wrigley Field in Chicago), this place felt like I was in some kind of future world. Out comes the American in me… How the heck do you play rugby? Prior to this event, my only knowledge of rugby was that they don’t wear pads/ helmets, they throw backwards and there are a lot of guys with cauliflower ears. This was the perfect event for a first rugby experience.
It’s only 7 against 7 (hence the name of the tournament) and it’s fast paced. Games only last about 20 minutes and there aren’t a lot of players to follow so it’s easy to learn the basics quickly. By the time the American team played, I was ready to cheer hard. As an expat, visiting a different foreign country, it was a cool experience to cheer for my country’s team. There are a couple guys on the team who are ex-sprinters so they were fast! All in all, I really enjoyed the tournament and clearly the families in attendance did too.
“The popular Spartan race had an obstacle course that looked like a seven year old’s dream day. I spotted a ball pit and all the exhibitor booths had family centred contests and games. If I had kids, this would be a somewhat ideal venue to take them to.”
I haven’t experienced other events like this, but from what I understand, they are usually a raucous drunken mess and everyone is in costumes. Perhaps the fact that a beer was something like $16 kept the drunkenness to a minimum here, but the event organisers also clearly billed it as a family event. Not to say that the non-family people didn’t have a great time (I did), but the family theme was very clear.
It was really cute to see all the kids show up in costumes with their parents and have a great time. For Thailand expats with families, I would absolutely put this on your must attend list next year. It’s just a two hour flight to Singapore and compared to the other hectic city options in SE Asia for travel, Singapore is orderly and safe. In my 6 years of living in Thailand, this was the closest thing I’ve been to that resembled a sports experience from home. Definitely check it out in 2019!