By Shamseer Jaleel
United Arab Emirates proved their class when they overcame Thailand 70/18 to secure their promotion to Asian Rugby Championship Division I in 2017. UAE also overcame Uzbekistan 65/13 in their opening encounter.
Sri Lankan born former Trinitian, Imad Riyal was in peak form for the UAE outfit scoring two magnificent tries. Sri Lanka will once again participate in Division I securing number 2 position. Meanwhile Singapore will be demoted to Division II in 2017 as they were placed last in division I.
ARC division I was secured by Malaysia who will have a play-off against the third placed team in Top three (either South Korea or Hong Kong) on a home and away basis to determined the top three qualifying team for 2017. Japan, the Asian giant, have an unblemished record yet to lose a game in the Asian Rugby Championship from its inception.
This tournament has kick-started the qualification process in Asia. With Japan having qualified automatically by virtue of finishing third in their Rugby World Cup 2015 pool, the top team in Asia will now go forward into the global repechage for a place at rugby’s flagship event.
With 12 teams having secured their place at Japan 2019 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools in 2015, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers and, for the first time, a stand-alone round-robin repechage tournament to determine the final qualifier in 2018.