Sri Lanka did not feature among the 12 teams that were drawn into four groups of three teams in a virtual live draw that was hosted by Asia Rugby on their official Facebook and YouTube Channels yesterday (22nd August) for the 19th Asian Games.
Asia Rugby subsequently posted the groups as well as the match schedule with Rugby 7s competition of the games set to take place on the 24th, 25th & 26th of September.
The draw consisted of Asian heavyweights Japan, Hong Kong, China, Chinese Taipei, South Korea and included regulars Philippines, Malaysia, UAE, Singapore and Thailand while also including Afghanistan who will feature in their second games having debuted at the 2018 edition and featured newcomers Nepal who had seemingly replaced Sri Lanka in the competition.
Sri Lanka Rugby Sevens has been a regular participant at the Asian Games since the introduction of the shorter format of the game in 1998 and is one of the five teams that has featured in all six editions since, alongside Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand.
Rugby 7s Tournamanent schedule
Despite not being featured in the tournament draw, Sri Lanka will bank on the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) to come through with the NOCSL releasing an official statement claiming that they are working on getting Sri Lanka Rugby sevens included at the Games.
The official statement released by NOCSL yesterday (22nd) read;
“This is to inform that it was sadly noticed Sri Lanka Rugby was not included in the Asian Games draw done earlier today. Mr. Maxwell de Silva, the Secretary General of NOC Sri Lanka, brought this to the attention of Mr. Vinod Kumar Tiwary, Actg. Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), which is the authority on the Asian Games. Mr. De Silva was notified that this will be rectified tomorrow with a clear warning to Asia Rugby by Mr. Vinod Tiwary.”
Even if Sri Lanka is included in the games as indicated on the statement released by NOCSL, the team will have to compete under the NOCSL flag and not the national flag as the Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) is still suspended by World Rugby.
A squad of 12 players who have just completed their third training session under coach Dushantha Lewke will be eagerly waiting to find out whether they will be part of the 19th Asian Games. The team is set to be captained by Kandy SC player Tarinda Ratwatte and consist of Adeesha Weeratunga, Ravindu Anjala Hettiarachchi, Aakash Madushanka, Dinupa Senevirathne, Gemunu Chethiya, Dharshana Dabare, Ramesh Fernando, Heshan Jensen, Adam Gauder, Ravin Fernando, Ravin De Silvaand Kavindu de Costa.
Chathura Senevirathne, Srinath Sooriyabandara and Kavindu Perera who were initially part of the squad have made themselves unavailable due to personal commitments.