In the year 2008, ‘Asia Rugby’ (the regional governing body for Rugby in Asia – formally known as the Asian Rugby Football Union) introduced a new annual rugby tournament based on a Promotion/Relegation system whereby countries were grouped into various Divisions & based on their performance the winners were promoted and the bottom placed team demoted.

This competition replaced the previously held Bi-Annual ‘Asiad’ tournament in order to ensure that teams in the region had regular matches against teams with equal strength with the opportunity to go up the rankings in Asia. While the Top Tier consisted of 5 teams the lower divisions consisted of 3 or 4 teams.

As this will be the 10th year since the new tournament structure was introduced, ‘The Papare’ looks back at how the TUSKERS have performed over the years in this Asian Tournament.

2008

In the inaugural tournament held in Chinese Taipei, Sri Lanka was placed in Division 1 (i.e the 2nd Tier) along with host Chinese Taipei, Singapore & China.  However China withdrew at the last moment due to Visa issues leaving the other 3 teams to battle for honors. The Tuskers started the tournament by drawing with Singapore 20 points all but went down to Chinese Taipei 35 – 23. In the other game Singapore just beat the host by 23 – 22, which meant that Singapore were promoted to the Asian 5 Nations tournament while China were demoted to division 2 due to their non participation. Chinese Taipei & Sri Lanka retained their places in Division 1 for another year.

Standings:   

1. Singapore – 8 points  2. Chinese Taipei – 7 points 3. Sri Lanka – 3 points

2009

The Tournament saw host Arabian Gulf (demoted from the previous years’ Asian 5 nations Tournament) taking on Chinese Taipei, Sri Lanka & Thailand (promoted from Division 2). The Tournament was played on a knock out basis with Arabian Gulf taking on Thailand in one playoff game while Chinese Taipei taking on Sri Lanka in the other game, with the winners advancing to the promotion playoff while the losers battled each other to avoid relegation. The results are as follows:

Playoff Match 1: Chinese Taipei beat Sri Lanka 36 – 24
Playoff Match 2: Arabian Gulf beat Thailand 36 – 17
Relegation Playoff: Sri Lanka beat Thailand 51 -17
Promotion Playoff: Arabian Gulf beat Chinese Taipei 44 – 24

While Arabian Gulf was promoted back to the Asian 5 Nations competition, Thailand was demoted to Division 2 again, with Sri Lanka & Chinese Taipei retaining their Division 1 status for the 2nd year running.

2010

Singapore hosted the Tournament with the other teams participating being Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei & Malaysia (Promoted from Division 2). The Tournament was again played on a knock out basis with Chinese Taipei taking on Sri Lanka in one playoff game while Singapore (Demoted from the Asian 5 Nations Tournament) taking on Malaysia in the other playoff game. Following are the results:

Playoff Match 1: Sri Lanka beat Chinese Taipei 37 – 07
Playoff Match 2: Singapore beat Malaysia 22 – 20
Relegation Playoff: Malaysia beat Chinese Taipei 35 -08
Promotion Playoff: Sri Lanka beat Singapore 23 – 16

Sri Lanka created history by beating Singapore in the Promotion Playoff final to qualify for the Asian 5 Nations Tournament in 2011 for the first time. Chinese Taipei was demoted to Division 2 as a result of losing the relegation playoff to Malaysia.

2011

The Asian 5 Nations Tournament is played on a round robin format with all teams playing 2 matches each on a home & away basis. Sri Lanka’s entry into this top tier Asian Tournament started well enough with a draw against the UAE at home 13 all. However the Tuskers could not live up to expectations for the remainder of the tournament and were demoted back to the Division 1 segment for 2012. Following were the Sri Lankan teams’ results in this tournament:

Sri Lanka drew with UAE 13 all
Sri Lanka lost to Hong Kong 03 – 48
Sri Lanka lost to Kazakhstan 18 – 34
Sri Lanka lost to Japan 13 -90

Standings: 

1. Japan – 24 points 2. Hong Kong – 18 points 3. UAE – 8 points 4. Kazakhstan – 6 points 5. Sri Lanka – 3 points

2012

The Tournament was hosted by the Philippines who were promoted from Division 2 and also included Kazakhstan, Singapore & Sri Lanka who came down from the Asians 5 Nations tournament played in 2011. The competition was played on a round robin format. Below are the Tuskers performances at this Division 1 tournament.

Sri Lanka beat Chinese Taipei : 36 – 08
Sri Lanka beat Singapore : 35 -10
Sri Lanka lost to Philippines : 18 – 28

Philippines qualified for the Asian 5 Nations Tournament in 2013 as a result of topping the standings and remaining unbeaten while Singapore was demoted to Division 2 after losing all their games. Sri Lanka & Chinese Taipei retained their status in the Division 1 segment for another year.

Standings:

1. Philippines – 18 points 2. Sri Lanka – 12 points 3. Chinese Taipei – 7 points 4. Singapore – 1 point

2013

Sri Lanka hosted this edition of the Asian Division 1 tournament which was again played on a round robin format. The other participating teams were Kazakhstan (demoted from the Asian 5 Nations tournament), Chinese Taipei and Thailand (promoted from Division 2). The Tuskers put on a sterling display of fast open rugby to beat all other teams convincingly to annex the trophy. Their results in this tournament are as follows:

Sri Lanka beat Chinese Taipei : 39 – 08
Sri Lanka beat Thailand : 45 -07
Sri Lanka beat Kazakhstan : 49- 18

With this performance Sri Lanka gained promotion to the top tier Asian 5 Nations tournament for the second time while Thailand were demoted to division 2 once again after a tense battle to avoid relegation with Chinese Taipei & Kazakhstan.

Standings: 

1. Sri Lanka – 18 points 2. Kazakhstan – 6 points  3. Chinese Taipei – 6 points 4. Thailand – 5 point

2014

The Tuskers struggled in the 2014 Asian 5 Nations tournament losing all their games in the competition. While suffering heavy defeats to the top 3 Asian teams, the Lankans went down in a close contest against the Philippines. Below are their results:

Sri Lanka lost to Korea 03 – 59
Sri Lanka lost to Hong Kong 10 – 41
Sri Lanka lost to Japan 10 -132
Sri Lanka lost to Philippines 25 -26

As a result of this performance Sri Lanka were demoted to the Division 1 Tournament for 2015. However the Philippines too were demoted to Division 1 as Asia Rugby decided to limit the top tier competition (renamed as the ‘Asian Rugby Championship’) to 3 teams from 2015 onwards where theses 3 teams will play each other on a home & away basis.  As a result Japan, Hong Kong & Korea qualified to play in that tournament since they were the top 3 teams in this final Asian 5 Nations tournament.

Standings: 

1. Japan – 24 points 2.Hong Kong – 18 points 3.Korea – 12 points 4.Philippines – 6 points 5. Sri Lanka – 1 point

2015

Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Singapore & host Philippines participated in this tournament which was played on a knock out basis with the winners advancing to the promotion playoff while the losers competing with each other to avoid relegation to Division 2. Below are the results:

Playoff Match 1: Sri Lanka beat Kazakhstan 35 – 14
Playoff Match 2: Philippines beat Singapore 20 – 17
Relegation Playoff: Kazakhstan beat Singapore 32 – 12
Promotion Playoff: Sri Lanka beat Philippines 27 – 14

The Tuskers emerged victorious in the Division 1 tournament for the 3rd time and had the opportunity to play against Korea (who finished 3rd in the Asian Rugby Championship) for the opportunity to play in the Top Tier Asian competition in 2016. However, Sri Lanka decided to forgo this chance & decided to remain in the Division 1 segment.

2016

This round robin tournament was hosted by the Malaysia who were promoted from Division 2 and also included Philippines, Singapore & defending champions Sri Lanka. Following are the Tuskers performances at this Division 1 competition.

Sri Lanka beat Singapore: 33 – 17
Sri Lanka lost to Malaysia : 42 -17
Sri Lanka beat Philippines : 25 – 21

Malaysia emerged victorious in this tournament with the Tuskers taking the runners up spot followed by Philippines & Singapore. Singapore was demoted to Division 2 after ending at the bottom of the table.

Standings: 

1. Malaysia – 11 points 2.Sri Lanka – 9 points 3.Philippines – 7 points 4.Singapore – 5 points

2017

Malaysia will once again host this years’ tournament which will be held from the 14th to 20th of April 2017. The Tournament which will be held on a round robin format will feature Defending Champions Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka & UAE (Promoted from Division 2). The Tuskers fixtures are as follows:

Sri Lanka vs. Philippines – 14th May 2017
Sri Lanka vs. UAE – 17th May 2017
Sri Lanka vs. Malaysia – 20th May 2017

In Summary . . . .

Sri Lanka has done reasonably well in Asia’s Tier 2 competition (i.e Division 1) since this new tournament format was introduced. The Tuskers have won the this championship on 3 occasions (2010, 2013 & 2015), emerged runners up on 2 occasions (2012 & 2016) & finished third place on 2 occasions (2008 & 2009) while competing in the Tier 1 competition (i.e Asian 5 Nations tournament) on a couple of occasions in 2011 and 2014. Sri Lanka is also the only country other than the Top 3 countries (i.e Japan, Hong Kong & Korea) that has not been relegated to from Division 1 since the inception of this new annual tournament structure.

Here’s ‘ThePapare’ wishing the Tuskers all the very best to make it tournament win number 4 in the 2017 edition!!!