Negeri Sembilan finally ended their 36-year wait to win the Sukma Gold in Rugby. They beat Selangor 14-0 in the men’s Rugby 7’s final of the 20th Malaysia Games at the UiTM Shah Alam Rugby Field yesterday. The Sukma Dark Horse had been on the podium in 5 editions before but never tasted the Gold. It is a sweet victory for the state that have a long history in rugby and had produced many national players in the past.

Negeri Sembilan entered their third Sukma final in history after defeating Perak 12-5 in the quarterfinals and Pahang 19-7 in the semis. Their opponent, Selangor had convincing victories over Terengganu and hot favourite Kelantan in the last four.

The final was the peak of form by the Negeri Sembilan team. They took the field with determination and discipline. Selangor were under intense pressure from their opponent from kick-off. Negeri Sembilan took the lead after 3 minutes through Dhia Darwisy Othman. They never look like backing down in the last seven minutes as Ali Imran Mohd Suhaimi delivered the second try. Amirul Ramzan Amir made sure his team scored the maximum points with the conversions.

However, the historic Sukma glory for Negeri Sembilan did not come from just one final. It was a 6-year of hardwork by Farid Rahman, Yusli Ramli, Wan Shahruddin and Irwan Abdul. The team had been busy selecting and developing the young local talents to be a championship material. Most of the players had won the National Sevens U21 2018), Perlis Royal 7s (2019) and Arau 7s (2019). They also won a silver at Sukma Perak (2018) and finished 2nd at the National Sevens U21 (2019). Although the Covid-19 pandemic had interrupted their preparation, the squad never lost their direction. The support from Negeri Sembilan Sports Council (MSNNS), Negeri Sembilan Rugby Union (NSRU) and Rugger District (RD) kept their preparation on track.

Sukma Rugby 7’s is an important tournament for all states to evaluate their development program. The achievement at this competition can be considered as the summit of all states’ grassroot programs. Local players were trained and groomed from young until they are 23 to compete at this level. No foreign players are involved in any Sukma events.