Qualifying race continues in Asia
The road to Rugby World Cup 2015 continues in Asia this weekend when Thailand and India come face to face in a play-off to determine who will be promoted to Division I of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations and keep their qualification dream alive.
Thailand are slight favourites going into the match at the Thephasadin Stadium in their capital Bangkok, having beaten Malaysia at the beginning of June to win Division II and earn a meeting with India, the Division III champions.
“After winning Division II in Kuala Lumpur we know we must cross this final hurdle to take our place in Division I next year,” insisted Thailand head coach Thanin Patamasingh Na Ayuttaya, who has added three new players to the squad since the Malaysian success.
However Thailand won’t be underestimating the challenge of a side ranked only five place below them in the IRB World Rankings and keen to seize the chance to jump two divisions in the Asian 5 Nations pyramid.
“We had a very good training camp in Sri Lanka, although we unfortunately lost 25-24 to a strong Kandy side last Saturday,” said India captain Nasser Hussain. “But Kandy are always very strong at home and we took some good points from that match.
“All the squad are focused on trying to maximise this weekend’s unique opportunity to jump a division in the Asian 5 Nations and stay in the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying process next year.”
The Asian qualifying process for England 2015 began in the Philippines in April with the host nation claiming the title and promotion to the Top 5 where they will face Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and the United Arab Emirates in 2013.
Whoever emerges victorious at Thephasadin Stadium on Saturday will replace Singapore in Division I next year, when the top two divisions only are part of the RWC 2015 qualification process. The Division I champion in 2013 will join the Top 5 in 2014, the winner of which will qualify for England 2015 as Asia 1 and the runner-up enter the Repechage.