Thursday, 16 October 2014 01:29
By Shamseer Jaleel
The usual expectation at the third and the final leg of the Asian Sevens series in Beijing (18 and 19 October) faded away, with three stars missing from the starting lineup of the Sri Lanka Sevens rugby outfit, which took wing to China early this morning (16).
Sri Lanka regular sevens skipper Fazil Marija will miss the third leg due to an urgent family commitment in Australia and will be returning only in one week’s time. The worst news came for the rugby fans when both ever-reliable Srinarth Sooriyabandara and rock-solid Anurudha Wilwara were sidelined due to injuries, needing one month’s rest before playing any games. Further Richard Dharmapala too was not considered for selections.
Sri Lanka ended at No. 4 in both the tournaments in Hong Kong and Malaysia, with the South Koreans blocking the No. 3 position on both the occasions. Asian giants Japan and Hong Kong occupied the top two slots as usual.
With Japan qualifying to play in the ongoing IRB World Series 2014/2015 as the Asian Qualifier, it’s the next two teams from Asia which will get the chance at the Hong Kong Sevens 2015 in March to play in the second layer at the World series and the best sevens stop-over in world rugby.
The Sri Lanka women’s team which occupies No. 5 in Asia will kick off the Beijing Sevens with the game against a tough Kazakhstan outfit. The men’s outfit will play Kazakhstan (11.12 a.m.) and Malaysia (2.08 p.m.) on the opening day in the 12-team event.
Group A – China, Japan, Thailand, Philippines
Group B – Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Singapore
Group A – Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei
Group B –Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Kazakhstan
Group C – South Korea, Thailand, UAE
Group D – Japan, China, Philippines