Siong* Sundays (*Hokkien for very tough) (The New Paper, 20 Sept 2008)



IMAGINE doing 300m runs, 10 times.


Natahar Bava addressing the rugby team in 1982 (Pic taken from The New Paper)

Natahar Bava addressing the rugby team in 1982 (Pic taken from The New Paper)

Each player had a certain time frame given to complete the run each time.


As the overall fitness improved, Natahar ‘The Grinder’ Bava, increased it to 10 400m runs.


Song Koon Poh recalled with a laugh: ‘Oh man, why bring back painful memories?


‘But seriously, Sundays were reserved for fitness work.


‘But after our training sessions, we would head across to the Serangoon Road area for fish head curry, that was the plus!’





Players were given routes of at least 15km long, to tackle. They also had to complete them within a time frame.


Song said: ‘Nat used to go on his bicycle and he knew the MacRitchie Reservoir routes inside out.


‘So we would be running and some of us would naturally take it easy at times, and then suddenly, he would pop his head out from behind a tree to catch us and remind us to keep focused.


‘The fastest runner usually finished in an hour, the slowest half an hour later.’





Within a squared circuit formed by markers placed 30m from each other, the players had to do a set of different exercises at each of the 13 stations set out.


Song explained: ‘You’d go to one marker and do 30 star jumps, or 30 burpees, and so on. You then had to sprint on.


‘The worst was the ‘crab walk’. This means you go on all fours, and move sideways for 30m like a crab, before sprinting back to repeat.


‘We each had to do this 30 times, over and over again.


‘This was the worst of them all.


‘By the end of the ‘crab walk’, all of us just wanted to drop flat on the ground.


‘But Nat was scientific. Each one had a log card, and each time for each station, was noted, so he could see if we had improved our times as we went on.


‘The ‘crab walk’ was supposed to strengthen our arms and improve our posture and balance when crouching low, so we could withstand knocks and hits in rugby better.


‘You could call it madness.


‘But there was a method. And it made us super-fit, and gave us the edge towards the end of game, which was the goal.


‘Today’s Beep Test standards? I don’t think they come close to what we went through in those days.’ – ERNEST LUIS


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One response to “Siong* Sundays (*Hokkien for very tough) (The New Paper, 20 Sept 2008)

  1. Pingback: A toast to our rugby heroes of ‘78 - and to some fundamental principles of sport « The Singapore Sports Fan Says…

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