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Sports


Desperate try

Sri Lanka banks on performances at Asian Games rugby to earn invitation for Hong Kong Sevens

By Ravi Nagahawatte
Sri Lanka plans to impress the organizers of the IRB Sevens Series by doing well at the upcoming rugby sevens which is a discipline at the Asian Games which will be held in Doha Qatar from December 1-15.
Sri Lanka’s sevens team has failed to impress the hosting nations that have rights to organize the eight legs that comprise the IRB Sevens Series which is also known as the Sevens World Cup. As a result the island nation’s rugby players haven’t been extended invitations to play in the IRB Sevens Series during the past two years.
Dilroy Fernando, CEO of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU), told The Nation that the country’s chances of being invited for a few legs of the Sevens Series would be great if the team performed well at the Asian Games.
The IRB Sevens Series comprises eight legs and Sri Lanka filled one of the slots available to Asian teams at the Hong Kong leg of the Sevens Series before its name was knocked off the invitation list after its last appearance in 2003. Sri Lanka suffered heavy defeats in the 2003 edition of the Hong Kong Sevens at the hands of South Africa (54-0), Scotland (38-0), South Korea (50-0) and USA (34-7). According to Fernando most of the Asian teams are on a standby list and are invited according to the wishes of the host nations which conduct the tournaments in the series.
However, Fernando is quite optimistic that Hong Kong will extend Sri Lanka an invitation for next year’s tournament. “The SLRFU is liaising with the Hong Kong Rugby Union. We are pretty sure of being invited again,” said Fernando.
Fernando said that none of the Asian teams had been invited for the first leg of the Sevens Series scheduled in Dubai because it clashed with the dates of the sevens tournament at the Asian Games. The second leg of the Sevens Series will be held during the second week of December in South Africa.
Sri Lanka’s rugby, at present, in both forms of the game is on a high after solid performances at the 15-a-side World Cup qualifiers and an international sevens tournament that the island nation hosted in Kandy this year. Sri Lanka’s rugby officials have given rugby a shot in the arm by contacting all its players and obtaining the services of a foreign coach.