Why I Play series: touch rugby player Terence Toh

"Why I Play” is a fortnightly series showcasing the stories of people who enjoy playing sports. Want to see your sport featured? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

After picking up touch rugby during a sports camp in polytechnic, Terence Toh loved the sport so much that he continued playing the sport, and even started coaching.

Since then, the 31-year-old has played in three Touch Rugby World Cups and, as the general manager of Touch Singapore, he is currently looking to grow the sport among the youths.

Q: How did you get involved in this sport?

A: I got involved in Touch while studying at Republic Polytechnic. I was playing the game during a sports camp and got invited to join the interest group, and the rest is history.

Terence Toh started playing touch rugby after attending a sports camp at Republic Polytechnic. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian/Yahoo News Singapore)

Which muscle groups are most involved in this sport? Which part of your body aches the most after a touch match and why?

Definitely the lower body group – glutes, quads and calves – as we cover a lot of ground and sprints in a match. I play as a centre or link, positions which require a lot of different movements all over the pitch, so I work the lower body group plenty when I play.

Tell me the biggest misconceptions people have of this sport

The biggest misconception is that touch is a “little brother/sister” to rugby. Or that it is a ‘softer’ version of rugby. Touch is a unique sport that has been played for decades on a world level and has been growing quickly all over the world. The sport has its own unique skillsets to master and also require a high level of conditioning to play the sport well.

In playing this sport, what has been your most memorable experience?

There have been plenty, especially on teams as a player or coach. On a personal level, being picked as Singapore’s flag bearer at the Touch World Cup was a great honour and privilege. It was a proud moment for me to lead Singapore’s contingent out.

Terence Toh was the flag bearer for the Singapore team at the Touch Rugby World Cup. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian/Yahoo News Singapore)

What was your most heartbreaking?

I was competing in a tournament in Perth in 2019 with the national team when an opponent took me out unnecessarily in our first game and I injured my ankle. I had to be on crutches and missed the rest of the tournament, which was really depressing after all the hard work and effort put in for the tour.

Was there a time you felt like walking away from the sport? What made you stay?

Yes, being too involved can be too overwhelming at times and having to constantly competeand manage politics was driving me away from the sport.

However, remembering the friendships I have made in the sport along with the differences I can make in people’s lives made me stay.

What was the worst injury experienced?

I suffered a Grade 2 hamstring tear in 2014 which sidelined me for 10 weeks. It occurred during a final match and I had to stoop low to catch a friend’s pass to score which eventually tore my hamstring. I was impatient and tried to return after four weeks but re-injured it again, so it was a good lesson for me to stay patient and trust the process.

As the general manager of Touch Singapore, Terence Toh is currently looking to grow the sport among the youths. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian/Yahoo News Singapore)

What life lessons has this sport taught you?

To be resilient and positive in adversity and importantly to be thankful for all the great people that I have met, experiences and moments I have had.

How can people get involved if they’re interested in this sport?

Touch is offered extensively in schools and best to pick up there for a good foundation in the sport. If not there are plenty of clubs and teams in Singapore who can offer opportunities for people to pick up and play touch.

Can you tell me in one sentence why you love this sport?

The friendships developed and the adrenaline from training and competing with my teammates to outplay our opponents, and this is why I play.

Why I Play series: Touch rugby player Terence Toh. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian/Yahoo News Singapore)