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DateLine Sunday, 30 September 2007

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More teams pull out of Singer Rugby Asiad

RUGBY: Asia's No 1 ranked side Japan are definitely out of the Singer Asiad to be staged in Colombo from November 3 to 10, and it's very doubtful whether Asia's No 2 and 3 South Korea and Hong Kong too will participate though the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) are optimistic that the Koreans will respond positively "very soon".

International Rugby Board (IRB) Development Officer for Asia, Gerard Gallaher, who was in Sri Lanka sometime back has promised to see whether he could make use of his good office to try persuade Hong Kong to play in Colombo, but the Sunday Observer reliably understands that New Zealand are to tour Hong Kong in November.

Japan declined to play due to the Rugby World Cup (RWC) commitments and they even postponed their domestic season to start in the third week of October, Where South Korea is concerned, the SLRFU are yet "negotiating' and there could be a chance that they (the Koreans) will play in Colombo. The SLRFU are awaiting Korea's final decision.

Asia's No 5 Arabian Gulf "pulled out" of the Singer Asiad stating that they find it difficult to raise money, while Singapore cited leave problems for their players for their inability to play in Colombo. Singapore are ranked No. 7 or 8 in behind Sri Lanka who are No. 6

This leaves only Kazakhstan (ranked Asia's No,4) to play in Colombo together with Chinese Taipei, China, Thailand, Malaysia, India Pakistan, the two debutantes (Iran and Qatar) and host country Sri Lanka to vie for honours in Colombo at the Singer Asiad to be worked off at three venues - Longden Place, Royal College Sports Complex and the Sugathadasa Stadium.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the SLRFU, Dilroy Fernando, told the Sunday Observer that the draw has been made temporarily but has to be approved by the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU).

The President of the SLRFU, DIG Nimal Lewke, who also heads the elite Special Task Force (STF), said that during the Singer Asiad that an IRB Level I and II Coached and Referees/Trainers Course too is scheduled to be held and that every coach in the schools should have an IRB Level I certificate before the next season (2008).

From next year (2008), the structure of the Asiad will be changed with the top five countries (Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Arabian Gulf and Kazakhstan) figuring in a Five-Nations tournament, while Sri Lanka are in Division I with China, Singapore and Chinese Taipei. In the Division II, are Malaysia, Thailand, India and Pakistan, while the other 12 countries will play each other in Regional Divisional tournaments.

 

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