ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday November 18, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 25

Let’s move to the next level

The tiny Lankan Lankans proved a point at the Asiad. However now they have to gear up to the bigger challenges ahead.
( Pic by Ranjith Perera)

Kazakhstan scored three ties to beat Sri Lanka 24 to 17 and win the title in the last of the rugby Asia that was played on Colombo last week. From here onwards it will be a new format that will be implemented. To Kazakhstan it is another achievement. In the previous week their women's team beat China to win the Asian Women's Championship.

Sri Lanka performed well to loose by a difference of a goal after having succumbed to Kazakhstan by 79 points to 6 in May 2007. True that match was played in Alamaty and this time it was in Colombo. Whatever we may say unless we are prone to be cynical it has be noted that the performance is a vast improvement from the Sri Lankans. It does also give hope that if we are to reach the next level in the Asian rugby circuit in the new format we may not be fodder for others provided we take on a serious plan of development to sustain and win. The Lankan team showed that they are capable of taking on the big boys and did tackle them resolutely. Yet I would think that the team that had played teams with lesser beef in the recent past will improve as they meet tougher opposition.

Sri Lanka is a side that has talent and the skills and should be a side that could win as well as entertain. Maybe they have to give more room for the natural instinct to triumph and let the game flow. More ball to the outsides and room to run can and will make a difference in their approach in tome to come. Japan has been the superpower of Asian rugby with Hong Kong and Korea lagging not far behind in the challenge. With the conclusion of this Asiad stepping into the new era will be teams such as Kazakhstan, China and Sri Lanka who will challenge the powers of Asian rugby. Taking the world cup 2007 we find the tier two and three countries playing entertaining rugby. An example was Fiji who had only nineteen kicks in the each of the two games against South Africa and Wales. The average in the tournament was 55 and from the quarter final onwards it moved unto around 80 kicks. Fiji played what they are best at and out passed all other teams despite beings least successful of all twenty teams in the lineout as well as the scrums. Other minnows who did well against the giants included Georgia, who came close to beating Ireland , Tonga who almost beat South Africa as well as Romania , who were edged out by Italy, Namibia who fought Ireland and Japan who drew with Canada What Sri Lanka has to learn and profit is for the future. That is to remember that big or small is not an issue but the attitude and the type of game they should adopt in the face of big names

There were many a misgiving and soft conversation on the format as well as the participation of the ASIAD At the end of it all what will be left to be remembered that in a few years from now the records will show that Kazakhstan won the Cup and Sri Lanka were runners up of the ASIAD played in 2007. Sri Lanka By virtue of the performance in the ASIAD has also climbed up the ladder in the IRB rankings. Sri Lanka and the ASIAD 2007 has also received publicity by having articles posted on the IRB web site

It is also testament to the others who were hesitant to come to Sri Lanka that there was nothing to fear. The challenge was accepted by the SLRFU to host the games in Sri Lanka and that it went off well is a feather in their cap. This is proof for Sri Lanka to ask for it being considered it as a venue in the future. The Sri Lankan- Singer rugby sevens is one event that will be played at home next year. There is also the opportunity of hosting the matches of the new format for 2008. If there was an issue that bothered participating countries the success of hosting the ASIAD will now be in favour of Sri Lanka. It has now been proved to the world of rugby governance and the Asian Rugby Football community that there is no hindrance in hosting a rugby event in Sri Lanka. This is an area Sri Lankan rugby has triumphed other than the game itself.During the ASIAD there was also the implementation of doping control tests to further the IRB aim to keep the game clean. Rugby World Cup Limited has announced that the RWC 2007 IRB’s anti doping Manger Tim Ricketts who administered the programme during the World Cup was in Sri Lanka to administer and to take the message to help keep rugby clean.

The IRB operates a zero-tolerance stance towards the use of prohibited substences.

“In addition the IRB raises awareness of the dangers of performance-enhancing and recreational drugs through its hugely successful Outreach and Keep Rugby Clean campaigns. These campaigns have been developed in partnership with WADA and a number of RWC 2007 players will have come through that system,” added Ricketts in a statement issued by the IRB.

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