Lankan rugby in the next plane; now have to maintain status

By Vimal Perera

The format for the Asian Rugby Foot ball tournament was discussed at the ARFU meeting held in Manila last week. Sri Lanka by virtue of its performance in the recent past will compete for the Plate. From the bowl, where minnows played, at the last tournament Sri Lanka has now moved ahead. They are joined by Arabian Gulf and China. There will be three other teams playing for the plate. This will be determined after the ongoing Asian Nations Series where, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia. Thailand, Singapore and Kazakhstan are taking part. Singapore having beaten Chinese Taipei seems to be certain of joining the plate with Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan who beat Singapore after having lost to Chinese Taipei head the table in group three of the Asian Nations Series. Meanwhile Pakistan who beat Guam earlier beat Philippines in group five of the Asian Series. Sri Lanka will now be among the top contenders and the Plate will be within its reach.

It is reported that China and Kazakhstan are yet to confirm their participation at the Asiad. China is undecided between the Asiad and preparation or the Asian Games. Japan, Hong Kong and Korea the three top ranked teams will play in the Cup and for a place in the Rugby World Cup. The Bowl would see India Pakistan and other newcomers to the Asian Region, Iran joining others determined after the on going Asian Series matches. Asiad 2006 is expected to be a memorable affair according to sources of the SLRFU. The promotion is not only rugby but Sri Lanka as a place to visit. The local Caltex league tournament first round games now see two unbeaten teams in each segment. CR after their win over CH and Kandy who beat Havelock’s remaining unbeaten. In segment B Air Force and Police remain unbeaten. The strength in the CR team was their ability to retain possession through better handling skills. The CH on the other hand disappointed loosing possession. On number of occasion they lost their line outs and were outplayed in the scrums. CR while playing as a team unit capitalized on the errors. Another question that baffles me is why CH failed to attempt and covert penalties, within kicking distance. When the margin was narrow points on the board would have meant a lot. Is it that the CH side does not have a reliable place kicker? Kandy Sports Club though winning against the Havelock’s seems not to have got into top gear as yet. With the match against the CH to be played on Saturday they will definitely have to polish the rough edges. CH though losing seem to be a side that is capable of turning tables.

The other match of interest will be that between the Havelock’s and the Army to be played on Sunday. Both teams having not registered a win so far will be at their best to mark a victory. Fourth or fifth is also important.The Air Force Beat Old Zahirians to remain uneaten in segment B. They may be good enough to battle it out with the Police for honors in segment B. Dimbulla/Dickoya recorded their first win over Jawatte Lions by a huge margin. The travel and the fatigue along the way it seem put paid to any hope of the Jawatte team putting up a better display against the Dimbulla / Dickoya team. Experience will teach the boys from Jawatte as they continue in this segment.

The gap between the teams in Segment A and Segment B seem to be a yawning big one. The proposal to have to tier structure is providing better games for the spectator. The next few weeks will see close games and more exciting rugby. There is would to pressure all around and the game will get better for the viewer.

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