Introducing TRC Member Tony Faneco – From Head Coach, TRC Cup Director and now National B Referee

When did you join TRC?  How did you hear about the Club?

We joined the club in 2008 when Sacha was just under 4 years old, having heard about TRC from some friends.  Our boy had outgrown our garden and we needed to find some way for him to expend his additional energy.

How have you been involved at TRC?  

I took over the Head Coach role of the U6s in 2009.   Jackie Barkham stayed down with the U5s and someone loud and entertaining needed to take over. It felt like one of those days where people were asked to volunteer and I was the only one who did not step backward.  I stayed on to coach the 2005 group until things got serious (Jan 2012) and I let the real coaches take over.
In 2014 a large number of volunteers from the 2005 age group pitched in to help the TRC Cup machine. In 2015 when the incumbent organiser left for Australia, I once again found myself as the sole person in the volunteer line and inherited the mantle of Director TRC Cup.  Since then, through a number of different variations, the TRC Cup has grown to an extent where the Mini’s have their own weekend and the older boys have so much competition we fill our pitches for a weekend 15 a-side rugby contact rugby.

Just under two years ago I did my L1 Referee course through TRC.  The L1 Referee course is an introduction into what to expect as a referee on match day. It certainly didn’t prepare me for the experience of refereeing a competitive match, but little will do that other than experience.

What have you gained from being a member of TRC?  What are the benefits of joining a club such as TRC?

The TRC family is over 500 families strong, you meet people in the street, in business and in social environments who share the TRC. The Tanglin Rugby Club is a volunteer-run club and so many people give their time for the benefit of the game their children love to play. You get to understand a little bit more about those people, it brings you closer,  and in a place like Singapore which sees many families come for a stint before going home, it is a nice place to find a new extended family.

How did you get involved in being a referee?  What do you do as a referee? 

When I stepped down as Head Coach I wanted to stay involved with the club but at a different level. Refereeing at any level always seemed like a challenge from the sideline (if only because you have so many advisers) so I thought it a decent way to stay involved.

Today I referee men’s, women’s and kids rugby. Both as either the main official of the day or as an Assistant Referee (AR), which is as demanding as being on the pitch if you want it to be.  At the highest level, the ARs are expected to be additional eyes for the Ref. Most weekends during the season I am doing two games, one as a Ref and another as an AR. During the week if lucky enough I get a chance to do a schools 7s games which I always find fun and a good way to get some extra running in, some of these kids are very, very quick.

What have been some of the highlights refereeing? 

A couple of things come to mind, HSBC 7s in the Tech Zone last year was a blast as was being part of the officiating team for Scotland vs Italy international here in Singapore.

I would say that whilst those sorts of events are fantastic I Iove being involved at a junior level. Junior and grassroots level sport exists because mums and dads get involved, as my kids get older I want to continue to be involved and hopefully give something back.

What are the benefits for young players looking at being a referee (what support is provided)?

The SRU via the SSRUR offers a number of L1 courses every year for budding referees and L2 courses a couple of times a year for those with sufficient game time under their belt. We have a weekly training session on Monday nights where we discuss changes, trends in local and international rugby. This gives junior refs a great chance to build on their theoretical knowledge and a safe environment to put some of that into practice. Those sessions have been enormously helpful.

Over the past two years, TRC members who have completed their L1s prior to the TRC Cup have been invited to complete their practical and get registered as a referee over the TRC Cup weekend.

What other things do you do outside of rugby and TRC?

I have always trained for something which means spending a fair amount of time in the gym. I am a PT, Crossfit coach, and more recently an Orangetheory Fitness coach.

Last year, along with some friends, I invested in Orangetheory Fitness, one of the fastest growing gyms in the USA. It is a Heart Rate based interval training where, wearing a HR monitor, a personal trainer guides you through a class of treadmill, rowing machine, body weight and weighted exercises. The aim is to motivate you to exercise a lot more efficiently.

We have opened two studios, one at Roberston Quay and another at Tanjong Pagar and are planning the opening of another this year. We have plans to open up to 10 around Singapore in the coming years as the brand expands.

Favourite rugby team/player? 

Both my kids of course. Sacha as a dynamo in the U13s and Olivia in the U17s Valkyries.

But when I watch the telly rather than the live stuff the Brumbies are my favourite team probably because Sterling Mortlock used to play there.

Today I love watching Leigh Halfpenny play but I have to say my favourite player is Chucky Stanard of the Australian 7s team.

World Cup 2019 – predictions?

Australia at a canter.


Next Level 1 Officiating 15s Course – 4th March – run by the Singapore Rugby Union.  More information is available HERE

Read more about how TRC supports the development of referees HERE