Asia Rugby Championship Division 1 2019
The Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) Division 1 2019 matches take place in Taipei, starting today Wednesday 29th May 2019. Four teams are in Division 1: the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Chinese Taipei.
The ARC Division 1 will be contested on Wednesday, 29th May and Saturday 1st June as part of the Taipei Rugby Week. The format is similar to that used in Division 2, with the semifinals determining who can compete for the Division title and the losers of the semi-finals playing for 3rd-4th, the loser of which drops down to Division 2.
Division 2 of the ARC was won by the UAE in Thailand on May 18th 2019 and they will replace the team relegated.
The ARC games will be played at the Taipei Municipal Stadium, with the finals on Saturday following the 1st day of action of the Taiwan International Rugby 10s.
ARC team preparation
In 2018, Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) opted out of playing the ARC but kept their place in this year’s Division 1. The SLR chief Lasitha Gunaratne told the Daily News their decision to concentrate on Sevens and not take part in XVs on a recommendation of the High-Performance committee in 2018 is something in hindsight they realized was a wrong decision. He also cited other issues such as the confirmation of tournament not being made in advance by Asia Rugby. The Philippines were the division champions in 2018, and Chinese Taipei are newly promoted from Division 2.
Sri Lanka recently embarked on a tour to Malaysia and played two games, winning the 1st match 55-14 against a Malaysian Barbarians team and then narrowly losing 31-26 in a test match against Malaysia.
According to an article by Allaam Ousman in the Daily News, Rear Admiral Deshapriya Hettiarachchi, Chef de Mission of the Sri Lanka squad which toured Malaysia said “We have a very good young squad whose average age is about 24. Their work rate is high. Everybody knows if they practice hard they can earn a place in the side on merit unlike in the past when players were selected on reputation.”
Late in the week’s preparations, the team seemed to be suffering from some internal issues. The most experienced player in the squad, Sajith Saranga pulled out due to injury, but there was speculation he as unhappy with a club teammate (Sathya Ranatunga) not making the final team selection.
Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) Deputy President Rizly Illyas stated that the parent body has ‘zero tolerance’ to such behaviour. “Sajith Saranga is a player who has represented Sri Lanka for nearly 10 years and he has had a lot of playing time in the recent past as well. We are sending a squad with 17 debutants and for him to show this sort of attitude is absolutely embarrassing. The senior players have to set the example for the younger players and we have zero tolerance for his kind of behaviour.” Read more here.
Singapore has also been busy and beat Thailand 43-17 on tour before losing to the Hong Kong A team at home 38-7 in May. They lost out to the Philippines last year in this Division of the ARC and will be looking to avenge those results.
The Philippines national men’s rugby union team (also known as The Volcanoes) have also been in training camp are building towards defending their Division 1 title. Thirty players entered the camp and Coach Stu Woodhouse will welcome back experienced players such as Patrice Ortiz Olivier, Justin Villazor Coveney, Eric Cruz Erickson and Vincent Amar Young.
The coaching staff have selected a group of 26 to travel, and 10 players will make their debuts. “It’s been a tough training camp, we have really dug deep and put in the hours on and off the field. It will be a tough game and Sri Lanka are so competitive so we know what we have to do to come away with a good result” said team Captain Daniel Bembo Matthews.
In 2018 only the Philippines and Singapore competed for the divisional title with the Philippines beating Singapore home (32-24) and away (38-12).
Chinese Taipei Rugby
Chinese Taipei won Division 2 in 2018, beating out Thailand and India and finishing the division unbeaten. Although they are newly promoted to Division 1 they will be looking to make the most of the home ground advantage.
ARC Division 1 2019 schedule
- Date: Wednesday 29th May 2019
- Venue: Taipei Municipal Stadium
- #1 17:00 Philippines vs Sri Lanka
- #2 19:00 Chinese vs Taipei Singapore
- Date: Saturday, 1st June 2019
- Venue: Taipei Municipal Stadium
- #1 17:00 3rd / 4th Playoff
- #2 19:00 Winner SF1 Winner SF2
World Rugby rankings
Based on current World Rugby rankings, Sri Lanka are favourites followed by the Philippines, Singapore and Chinese Taipei.
- Sri Lanka (44)
- Philippines (53)
- Singapore (57)
- Chinese Taipei (63)
Source: World Rugby