The Old Putera Association’s the first and veterans rugby teams known as the OPA Black Scorpions and Black Scorpions Veterans, respectively. This name was adopted from the Royal Military College’s rugby team.
After several revivals, dating back as early as the 70s, the OPA, like many other alumni-based teams, has evolved into forming a veterans team to cater for the 35+-year-old “teenagers” who refuse to hang their boots.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on those who are in the twilight of their playing years, the Black Scorpions Veterans team. Those still embracing the passion that was ignited from their stint in Sg Besi, over 20 years ago.
Ragbi.MY’s first interview was with Old Putera (OP) Nor Khairi Omar, the Team Coordinator (former Puteras of the Royal Military College (RMC) address each other as OPs).
OP Khairi shared the vision and reasons behind the establishment of the team, that has since been registered as a club, in 2019. “For most sports, players love to talk about their good old days.
And almost every member of alumni would use the “during my time” phrase to recollect old memories. But rugby players, being the “unique” individuals we are, believe that we are not ready to reminiscent. There are a lot more memories to be made. Bila dah tak boleh side step macam zaman remaja dulu, kita guna tangan untuk buat dummy pass.”
“The response from veterans players has been extremely positive. To date, I believe there are more than 25 veterans teams in Malaysia. This is based on the registration to join the STJ Merdeka Midnight Veterans Rugby Tournament, should the tournament take place later this year.
“That makes rugby special. Rugby for all, as they say. In fact, I believe, among all the inter-alumni games, rugby was the first sport to have a veterans-age group competition, with the ASAS Fun 10s in 2016 and the best part was we emerged overall champions twice”OP Khairi Omar – Black Scorpions Veterans Rugby Team Coordinator
“During those days, we had over 30 OPs turning up to play a 10-a-side competition, and the other alumnus thought we were the fittest team, but in fact, most players only got 3-4 minutes of game time throughout all 6-7 matches played!”
Another team member interviewed was OP Trevor Pandian, a team “elder”, at the age of 52.
“I have been playing rugby since my days in college, and became more involved during my working days, playing for various clubs. The beauty of these veteran’s competition happening is meeting teammates from my club playing days, and only knowing now that they are from our rival schools like SMS Selangor and MCKK.
We’d joke, if we knew about this then, we’d probably be tackling our own teammates instead of opponents. This special bonding among players, is priceless.”
Perhaps it is because of their college motto of “Serve to Lead”, the Black Scorpions Veterans has 3 captains leading or serving the team.
Ragbi.MY could only interview one, so we were directed to OP Saifuddin Ismail. “Veterans competition has extended our rugby playing expiry date. We took part in almost every local tournament and a few international tournaments.
Our biggest achievement overseas was emerging Veterans’ Plate Champions at the Jakarta Komodos Rugby 10’s in 2019. But to me, it was never about winning, it’s living our childhood dreams of playing at an overseas rugby tournament and the enjoy the camaraderie fostered over the years.”
Team Convenor, OP Azly Anwar shared his thoughts the team’s goals and objectives. “This team has progressed to become what it is now, because it held on to RMC’s motto of Serve to Lead.
As veterans, it’s no longer about winning, but it’s about the journey that we take, holding on to tradition and leaving a legacy. Whatever we have achieved will hopefully pave a path to guide our first team, for their passage to become veterans and continue the legacy.
Similarly, the first team is paving the path for the Puteras who are still in RMC. Only with that, will the Black Scorpions legacy continue. We remind each other that we are not professional players, so our only reward for the sacrifices made over the years to the team and the sport is the fun we have and the memories we make.”
“We admit that despite being an alumni-based team, our membership is extended to non-OPs. Because this is rugby, and there is such a thing called rugby brotherhood. Some of our non-OP players have played for the team since 2001.
I make this special mention to them, to express our gratitude for the loyalty, dedication and sacrifice given,” OP Azly said.