Sri Lanka beat hosts Malaysia and successfully defended the Bowl while Japan defended its Borneo Sevens title in a gripping final against Hong Kong. The Borneo Sevens is the first of four events on this year’s HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012. Although trailing 12-17 in the first half, Japan rebounded in the second half with [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Next step from the Bowl

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Sri Lanka beat hosts Malaysia and successfully defended the Bowl while Japan defended its Borneo Sevens title in a gripping final against Hong Kong. The Borneo Sevens is the first of four events on this year’s HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012. Although trailing 12-17 in the first half, Japan rebounded in the second half with four tries and three conversions making the final points tally 33-22 at the end of the Cup final.

Sri Lanka Sevens player Saliya Kumara on the run against Chinese Taipei in Borneo.

Japan, who was trailing 22-19 with 90 seconds remaining on the clock, made use of the opportunity created through a yellow card against Hong Kong for failing to retreat after a penalty. Japan made rapid use of its additional man advantage to score a crucial try. Japan kept up the pressure as they capitalized on a Hong Kong fumble from the re-start to score again, Japan has a new squad for this year’s HSBC Asian Sevens Series have every reason to be proud with the performance of the players and that they were able to defend the title.

Chinese Taipei took home the Plate after beating Philippines Volcanoes in the final, 31-12. The Volcanoes reached the final last year in Borneo before losing out to Japan. Though not winning the plate they should be happy with their performance as they lie fourth at present.

The third and fourth places are always fiercely contested at HSBC A7s tournaments, and will continue to be an important place on this year’s series. Especially as in Singapore in November the fourth and final event of the series will be the Rugby World Cup Sevens Asian qualifier to be held with the long-running Singapore Cricket Club Sevens.

Three spots are reserved for Asian teams at next year’s World Championship in Moscow, so there will be everything to play for in November. The final HSBC A7s series standings following the third 2012 ranking event in Mumbai in October will determine the seedings for the Asian men’s teams taking part in Singapore.

In the Bowl final (9th/10th place play-off) Sri Lanka beat hosts Malaysia’s and ended their last hope of salvaging some pride despite a 12-7 lead in the first half. The Ben Gollings coached Sri Lanka team beat Malaysia 19-12 and annexed the Bowl. Gollings, the all-time top points scorer in HSBC Sevens World Series history, is the coach of Sri Lanka for all four events on this year’s HSBC A7s including at the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 qualifiers in Singapore in November.

Gollings commented on the tournament to ARFU as his first as coach of Sri Lanka, is on record as saying, “It’s been an interesting week for me as I have only just arrived in Sri Lanka, but I am pleased with the guys. I’m still getting to know them but I think on Saturday they knew there was more in them. Today it was their goal to go out and win the Bowl and they’ve done that, which gives us a great platform to build off of for the coming tournaments. To get among the giants in Asia through not impossible it is not an easy task. Then there are two more events prior to the Qualifier in Singapore where you need to get the third place to be in the rugby sevens World Cup from Asia. Living in the clouds because we have won the Bowl and the congratulations showered will not be helpful unless we understand reality; that we have been placed ninth.

It would not have been easy in the first sevens with almost no coach till the last few days and having to take the field with the new laws in place.” Reliable sources inform that the team found it difficult to adjust to the new scrum call as they were used to the four steps, “crouch, touch, pause, engage.” Some may ask “what is the big difference. Now it is “crouch, touch, set” which means there is no pause to steady yourself before the engagement. That is what makes a difference which may not sound tough to some.

Most reports on the Sevens does mention more about Gollings the highest try scorer in Sevens History. Expectations and mention of the personality is not what is important but the performance of the team is. Just prior to the team selection there was speculation that three players in the pool had not provided urine samples for the anti dope test. Subsequently it was rumored that two were side stepping the sample issue and were not on the field. Reliable sources form the SLRFU did confirm that the players delayed due to personal reasons but did submit the sample later on and all is well though they did not make it to Borneo. The lesson to take into heart is the need for discipline if a champion team is to be built. The Union doing an anti-doping test is a good thing as it is better eliminated on home soil than to be detected at a tournament.

Just as much as the planning for the sevens being less than expected the Under-19 team is faced with changes to the laws as well as having to play Under-19 variations. This affects pushing as well as formation which need to be introduced. The question is that since Sri Lanka was relegated to Division II it was an Under19 affair that was not looked into some time ago considering that we need to win this tournament.

The success of All Blacks is determined on getting the best out of players through responsibility, professionalism, maximizing full potential, creativity and preparation. It did not happen just like that?

Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB




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