Confident Sri Lanka youth rugby team at Malaysian Sevens

Saturday, 30 July 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Shamseer Jaleel

The Sri Lankan Under-20 rugby outfit under Kevin Dixon will kick off the Johor, Malaysian Rugby Sevens today in order to conquer Asian youth rugby. They will find two tough opponents to settle on their way to the cup finals. Early in the group stages they will face Asian giants Japan, and then defending champions Hong Kong could come their way later in the knockout stages. The second leg will move to Hong Kong on 12 and 13 August.

Dixon will have no less than 10 players from last year’s touring squad to Malaysia and Hong Kong where the youth outfit ended as runners-up to Hong Kong. Japan will be Sri Lanka’s toughest opponent in group stages while they are expected to beat UAE and the Philippines with a close encounter expected against Thailand.

The Sri Lankan team is coached by former Sri Lanka scrum half Sudath Sampath who was a sevens sensation himself for the country three decades ago. Hong Kong fresh from the Junior Word Rugby Tournament two months back have included a few players from the recently concluded Hong Kong Asian Federations Under-18 tournament to give exposure. But surprisingly Sri Lankan selectors did not include any of them in the Malaysian tour due to lack of time but are likely to include a few for the second leg in Hong Kong in August this year. Today in the group stages, Sri Lanka will meet Philippines (7.38 a.m.), Thailand (10.14 a.m.), and Japan (3.30 p.m.).

In the women’s segment, with Japan pulling out, it leaves Hong Kong as the firm favourites to win. They will play alongside Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.