By Shamseer Jaleel
Dhanushka Ranjan’s men left the island yesterday with hopes of doing well at the 2016 Asian Rugby Sevens second leg in South Korea, which will be worked off on 24 and 25 September.
The team recently emerged runners-up in the tournament’s first leg in Hong Kong, the finest achievement in Sri Lanka’s 100-plus years of Sevens rugby.
Its previous best was a third-place finish behind Japan and Hong Kong at the 2013 Asian Sevens. Only once before has Sri Lanka figured in a final of any international rugby competition but that was in the Fifteens version of the game when Sri Lanka ended up runners-up to Japan at the Rugby Asiad (Asian Rugby Championships) of 1974 in Colombo under Central Bank Governor Indrajith Coomaraswamy.
Sri Lanka’s Sevens team in the recent past has overcome some tough opponents such as South Korea, a vastly-improved China and Malaysia and came close to upsetting a tough Hong Kong outfit.
Sri Lanka Sevens Skipper Ranjan said: “We lost out on Dixon and Jason which is a big blow as both played a vital role in our success in the first leg in Hong Kong and I am very confident that they will bounce back during the third leg in Colombo. We will aim for a semifinal berth and work from there.” He added that they would not take any team lightly.
Sri Lanka’s women’s outfit, which missed out on the qualification round in Chennai last year, will play the third leg in Colombo but will not be in action in South Korea this weekend.
The women will need to finish a minimum of sixth out of eight teams in order to participate in next year’s Asian Sevens women’s competition. If they fail then they will be need to play in Division I and qualify for the tournament during the following year.
Danushka Ranajan (Capt.), Dhanushka Dyan, Srinath Sooriyabandara, Richard Dharmapala, Kanchana Ramanayake (all from Kandy), Tharinda Ratwatte, Kavindu Perera, Omalka Gunaratne, Shashan Mohamed (all from CR&FC), Dulaj Perera, Hirantha Perera (Havelocks) and Saliya Handapangoda (Navy)
Head Coach – Matt Turner
Manager – Rohan Chinthaka
Trainer - Nick Groube
Pool A - Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taipei
Pool B - Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and China
Pool C - Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Uzbekistan
Pool D - China, Thailand, South Korea and Guam