Asian Rugby Sevens Championship :
The curtain raiser of Asian Rugby Sevens first leg, which is the selection trial to determine the two Asian qualifying teams for the World Rugby Sevens Championship in America will see Sri Lanka taking on stronghold Japan at the Kowloon Bay Sports Ground in Hong Kong today, commencing at 11.00 a.m., local time.
Slotted in Group ‘B’ Sri Lanka will play their other two first leg group matches at the same venue today. Sri Lanka will face Chinese Taipei at 1.30 p.m. before they lock horns with South Korea at 4.22 p.m.
The second leg of the tournament will be held on September 23 and 24 at the Namdong Asiad Rugby Field in South Korea will be followed by the third and final leg at Race Course grounds in Sri Lanka on October 14 and 15. The overall winner and runner-up teams will be qualified to represent Asia at the World Rugby Sevens Championship in America, next year.
The Sri Lankan side is skippered by Sudharshana Muthuthanthri and included lot of youngsters, as some of talented senior players deserted the team due to injuries. Muthuthanthri hopes to complete today’s initial round in a decent manner and get through to tomorrow’s Cup Championship semi finals.
This year’s Cup Championship quarter final format will allow more room for Asian sevens rugby giants Japan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and South Korea to advance into semis and there lies a background for Sri Lanka to reach their target.
As same as Sri Lanka, host Hong Kong too included five new players in their side. Hong Kong emerged last year’s Asian Rugby Sevens champions and their team had undergone a comprehensive training session with their coach Paul John in Germany, aiming the Asian sevens tournament. Three Hong Kong players, Hugo Stiles, Seb Brien and Fong Kit-fung were included in their U-20 Asian Rugby squad and make their national debut in this tournament.
Most of Hong Kong senior players who are not playing for their country cited private commitments. Max Woodward and Lee Ka-to are professional players who contracted in Japan while Hong Kong’s famous McQueen brothers are training as pilots in Australia.
Sri Lankan squad:
Sudarshana Muthuthanthri (captain), Sudam Sooriyaarachchi, Jason Dissanayake, Omalka Gunarathane, Naveen Henakankanamage, Tarinda Ratwatte, Kavindu Perera, Danush Dayan, Buddhima Piyarathane, Hirantha Perera, Kavin Dixon and Samith Dananjaya.