In the end, MR (Malaysia Rugby) felt that they should not go the way of the Philippines. - STR/OWEE AH CHUN

DO as what your conquerors do or do it without ‘outside help’?

In the end, MR (Malaysia Rugby) felt that they should not go the way of the Philippines.

Notwithstanding that Philippines were the ones who denied Malaysia the men’s rugby sevens gold at the recent Sea Games.

Malaysia won the sevens gold at the 2017 Sea Games but failed to defend it against the Philippines in Manila last month, losing 19-0 in the final.

Philippines, who had also overpowered Malaysia in the men’s 15 final at the 2015 Sea Games, had again relied on their overseas players at the recent Sea Games.

Following a Sea Games post-mortem meeting in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday, MR president Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya said the national body need to keep developing the national sevens squad to be competitive at a higher level.

“We admitted at the meeting that we were not able to achieve our target. They (post mortem panel) were also aware that our main obstacle were the Philippines,” said Shahrul.

“Philippines’ dual-nationality rule allows them to use their players from abroad. It was as if we were playing a team from a different country, one from the Southern Hemisphere or the UK for example.

“However, at the meeting we, as the national body, also made it clear that we cannot use that as an excuse forever because what Philippines chooses to do is out of our control.

Shahrul Zaman Yahya

“We have to find a mechanism to continue to raise our players’ standards and to do well at higher level competitions such as the Asian Games.

“If we can do that, then we will automatically do better at Sea Games level.”

Shahrul made it clear that MR are in favour of developing local talent rather than going the naturalisation path in the sevens format.

“I think South Korea have done very well to qualify for the Olympics without the use of imports and we believe they are a good example,” he said.

“What our players need is more high level competition to gain experience. We can send them to more competitions (abroad) and we can also invite more top quality players and teams to compete in sevens competitions here.”

For events such as the Sea Games, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, the players must be a passport holder of the country they are representing.

But for World Rugby and Asia Rugby tournaments such as the World Cup and Asia Sevens Series, nations are allowed to use naturalised players who have spent at least five years playing in the country they intend to represent.