Sri Lanka to host new IRB supported event

(IRB.COM) Monday 30 September 2013
 Sri Lanka to host new IRB supported event
Sri Lanka won the Asian 5 Nations Division 1 in 2013 to remain in the hunt for RWC 2015 qualification

The International Rugby Board has announced details of an exciting new competition hosted by Sri Lanka and featuring Madagascar and Poland.

The IRB-supported competition will be played over three match days between October 26 and November 1 in rugby-mad Colombo.

This furthers the profile of international competition in Asia as the region counts down six years to go until it hosts the Rugby World Cup for the first time.

With all three Unions in close proximity within the top 50 of the IRB World Rankings and still in the hunt for a place at Rugby World Cup 2015, the matches will also prove a valuable performance benchmarking exercise for emerging Unions that do not usually get to play internationals outside of their region.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The IRB is committed to driving global competitiveness by investing the revenues generated by Rugby World Cup back into the sport at every level through competition, administration, technical and development support."

"This new competition will not only showcase international rugby in Sri Lanka and across Asia as the region prepares to host its first Rugby World Cup in 2019, but will give all three Unions an invaluable platform to step up in performance and ranking."

The competition will bring together three thriving Unions that are experiencing unprecedented participation growth and Rugby interest.

"ARFU is absolutely delighted to see this new, pan-regional tournament for emerging nations taking place involving another of our senior Unions in Asia," said Asian Rugby Football Union spokesman Ross Mitchell.

"This international exposure, which is in addition to the annual HSBC Asian 5 Nations tournament, can only help Asian teams to improve and make them more competitive on the world stage."

"ARFU wishes Sri Lanka every success and thanks the IRB for its continued support with this initiative."

Madagascar, still in the hunt for a place at Rugby World Cup 2015, regularly attract 40,000 capacity crowds to their Test matches against the likes of Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe and rugby is now the national sport.

Sri Lanka currently boasts 58,000 players, positioning the Union within the top 15 in the world, and boosted by the Olympic decision Sri Lanka is attracting participants in record numbers.

Poland is one of the up and coming Unions in the highly-competitive FIRA-AER competition structures and currently lie third in the European Nations Cup 2014 Division 1B.

For Sri Lanka, hosting such a prestigious tournament is key to their strategy to grow awareness by building stronger commercial and broadcast platforms.

It is also part of the Union's high performance programme to give the country the best possible preparation for next year's Asian 5 Nations Top 5 where Sri Lanka will take on Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and the Philippines. The winner will qualify directly to RWC 2015 as Asia 1, while the runner-up will enter the Repechage.