Rugby Asiad in Sri Lanka after 17 years
The most spectacular event in the Asian Rugby calendar - the Singer
Rugby Asiad will be worked off in Colombo from November 3 to 10 this
Ten countries will vie for honours at this year's Asiad six leading
rugby playing countries in Asia will battle it out in the Cup
Asia's fourth ranked team Kazakhstan has been drawn into Group 'A'
along with Chinese Taipei and Thailand while host nation Sri Lanka which
is ranked number six in Asia is in Group 'B' with Malaysia and China,
India, Pakistan and the minnows of Asian rugby Qatar and Iran will play
in the Shield Championship.
Sri Lanka will confront China in the curtain raiser of the tournament
on November 3 at CR and FC grounds, Longden Place while on the same day
Kazakhstan will lock horns with Thailand at the Royal Sports complex.
It was seventeen years ago (1990) that Sri Lanka last hosted the
Rugby Asiad. Sri Lanka was drawn into Group 'A' along with defending
champions South Korea, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei while Japan,
Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore were slotted into Group 'B'.
The Sri Lankans led by Double International Priyantha Ekanayake
confronted the then third ranked team in Asia-Hong Kong in the
curtain-raiser of the tournament at the Sugathadasa Stadium and gave a
gallant display to go down fighting by 13 points to 21.
The Sri Lankan forwards came up with a power-packed display to match
upto the bigger made Hong Kong 'eight'. Skipper Priyantha Ekanayake was
a source of inspiration to his team-mates with a fiery display in the
loose and was ably supported by Norman Silva, Shehem Siddik, L.V.
Ekanayake, Asoka Jayasena and Ajantha Samarakoon who too gave a terrific
display in the loose.
Centres Rohan Abeykoon and Grahem Raux stood out with some
bone-crunching tackles while full back Chanka Jayaweera was a tower of
strength with his safe collections and booming kicks to touch and had
the honour of scoring the solitary try for Sri Lanka while fly half
Nizam Jamaldeen dropped a peach of a goal and fired across two
Fly half Gary Acheson was Hong Kong's hero firing across five
penalties and converting the solitary try scored by Steven Peacock to
give his country a face-saving 21-13 win. Two days later Sri Lanka came
up with another stupendous performance to score a sensational 9-6 win
over the formidable Chinese Taipei.
Once again Sri Lanka's 'eight' played a key role in their success.
Norman Silva, Priyantha Ekanayake, Siddik, Asoka Jayasena, Niranjan
Abeywardena and Lasitha Guneratne (who replaced Samarakoon) played like
terriers to outplay their famed counterparts in the loose while fly half
Nizam Jamaldeen and centres Rauz and Abeykoon 'nailed' their opposite
numbers with some fierce tackling.
Burly Lasitha Guneratne scored the match winning try for Sri Lanka
with Jamaldeen adding the extra points and putting over a penalty to
give the Lankans a historic win.
The Sri Lankans locked horns with the mighty South Koreans in their
last Group 'A' match and gave a marvellous display to go down fighting
by 16 points to 26. Once again the Lankan forwards gave a plucky display
to match upto the power-packed South Korean 'eight' in the loose.
The three quarters especially centres Raux and Abeykoon and wingers
Imthisham Marikar and Aruna de Silva made some daring runs before being
brought down in the nick of time by their opponents.
Winger Imthisham Marikar scored the solitary try for Sri Lanka when
he put the finishing touches to a classic three quarter move by diving
over by the corner flag while fly half Nizam Jamaldeen fired across four
penalties enabling the Lankans to end the tournament on a high note.
The mighty South Koreans went onto clinch the richest prize in Asian
rugby by beating Japan by 13 points to 9 in the final played before a
mammoth crowd at the Sugathadasa Stadium. The Sri Lanka team comprised
norman Silva, Shehem Siddik, L.V. Ekanayake, Asoka Jayasena, Ajantha
Samarakoon / Lasitha Guneratne, Ikram Odayar, Niranjan Abeywardena /
Hector Gunatilleke, Priyantha Ekanayake (Captain), Sudath Sampath and
Nizam Jamaldeen, Aruna de Silva, Graham Raux, Rohan Abeykoon, Imthisham
Marikar, Chanka Jayaweera.