Can rugby bring SL’s first Asian Games medal?
As almost all prospects of a medal at the 18th Asian Games met with disappointment, Sri Lanka’s national rugby Sevens team will take to the field in the Asiad for the first time on Thursday, hoping for the illusive podium-finish for the Lankans, in Palembang, Indonesia.
Out of the last 17 times the Asian Games has been held since 1951, it is only thrice that Sri Lanka has failed to put their name in the medals tally.
Sri Lanka rugby Sevens team is led by the 27-year-old forward Sudarshana Muthuthanthri. Sri Lanka will play alongside South Korea, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Afghanistan in Pool ‘C’.
Rugby Sevens have not brought a medal for the Lankans so far in the Asian Games.
Sri Lanka will play UAE in their first match. They will then face strong South Korea also on Thursday before taking on Afghanistan the same day in their last Group-stage encounter.
The top two teams from each Group will progress to the quarter-finals, to be held on Friday, 31 August. The semi-finals and the finals will be on Saturday, 1 September.
Previous Games –
In the previous Asian Games in South Korea in 2014, Sri Lanka could beat Lebanon and Chinese Taipei in their Group matches yet lost against hosts South Korea.
In the quarter-finals, they recorded a 24-19 win against China. They ended up their campaign facing a drubbing against Japan, losing by 40-0.
Sri Lanka then lost their bronze-medal clash against the hosts and finished as overall fourth.
Ruby 7s in Asian Games –
Rugby 7s is a practical form of rugby union. If rugby union is played by 15 players in each team and requires 40 minutes of each half, Sevens rugby is played only by seven players per team, and seven minutes each half.
Rugby appeared in the 8th Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998, in the form of both rugby union and rugby Sevens. It has continued until the 14th Asian Games in Busan in 2002, but in the 15th Asian Games in Doha in 2006, only rugby Sevens was competed.
In the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010, rugby Sevens for women too was introduced for the first time.
Usually South Korea and Japan compete for the men’s rugby gold medal in the Asian Games.
Sri Lanka Rugby 7s Squad for 2018 Asian Games –
Sudarshana Muthuthanthri (Captain), Danushka Ranjan, Sudam Sooriyarachchi, Srinath Sooriyabandara, Gayan Weerarathne, Danush Dayan, Jason Dissanayake, Kavindu Perera, Tarinda Ratwatte, Buddhima Piyarathne, Reeza Rafaideen and Rehan Silva.
- In the above photo is Sri Lanka skipper Sudarshana Muthuthanthri