Singapore calls off World Challenge

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 April, 2009, 12:00am

Singapore's ambition to become the sporting hub in Asia suffered a blow when the inaugural World Club Challenge tournament to be held in July was cancelled, apparently due to the economic downturn.

Organisers cited the lack of a suitable venue as the stumbling block, and said they were looking at other countries as an alternative venue for the July 28-29 event.

But the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) yesterday said it had no plans to step in and host the four-team tournament, which would have featured top English sides Gloucester and Saracens, as well as France's Perpignan and Australia's Western Force.

'We would be flattered if they approach us but we have no plans to stage this tournament,' said Allan Payne, HKRFU executive director. 'We have our hands full this year hosting a number of tournaments including the HSBC Asian Five Nations and the East Asian Games in December.'

The HKRFU has already decided not to hold an international in November - following on from last year's Bledisloe Cup - as it felt it would not be financially viable.

The World Club Challenge was supposed to be another exciting date in Singapore's sporting calendar, joining the Formula One race, the Volvo Ocean Race, the 2010 Youth Olympics and the World Hockey Juniors, all part of the city's bid to become a regional sports hub.

Former England hooker Phil Greening, the man behind the tournament, told Singapore publication Marketing: 'Unfortunately due to the added cost of developing the facilities to be able to hold an event like this, we have had to cancel the event in Singapore and are talking to other countries to hold this event.

'It was not through lack of sponsorship but the cost of building the facilities to a standard required'.

The tournament had backing from the Singapore government and television rights had been sold with the tournament to be shown live in 24 countries.

But with the new stadium still unfinished, the tournament was to be held at the Padang at the Singapore Cricket Club, where temporary stands were to be built.

However, it is understood that the lack of sponsors also played a big role in scuppering plans.