Thailand defeated Malaysia 30-7 in the HSBC Asian Five Nations Division II final at the Army Stadium in Bangkok and, in the process, became the Rugby World Cup 2011 qualifiers in Asia Round 1.
Thailand also earned promotion to the HSBC Asian Five Nations Division I Tournament in 2009, which will serve as Round 2 of the Rugby World Cup qualifiers for Asia.
After leading just 13 – 7 at the interval, Thailand scored 17 points in the second half, including two tries in the first 11 minutes after play resumed to seal victory in front of a vocal crowd of supporters.
Thailand will replace the last placed finisher of the 2008 HSBC Asian Five Nations Division I Tournament. That Tournament will be played from November 12 to 15 2008 in Chinese Taipei between China, Chinese Taipei, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
With the unique promotion and relegation system of the Asian Five Nations, the 2008 Division I Tournament effectively doubles as a Rugby World Cup Qualifier - as the losing finisher will be relegated to next year’s Division II Tournament missing out on the opportunity to contest the Rugby World Cup qualification Round 2.
In today’s third place play-off, India routed Pakistan 92 – 0. India were ably led by captain and number 8 Nasser Hussain, who set a try-scoring record for the inaugural HSBC Asian Five Nations Tournament by scoring five tries in a single match.
Speaking at the Asian Rugby Football Union Executive Committee meeting held alongside the Division II Tournament, Mike Miller, Chief Executive Officer of the International Rugby Board said, “The IRB is very pleased with what the HSBC Asian Five Nations has accomplished this year. For the first time Asian rugby is being seen and talked about around the world. Asia is the future for rugby and great concepts like the Asian Five Nations can make it happen.”
Still to come in this year’s Asian Five Nations is the Division I Tournament and four regional competitions involving the remaining 12 Asian Rugby Unions taking part in the inaugural HSBC Asian Five Nations Series 2008.
The first of these competitions takes place in Guam featuring Guam, Brunei and the Philippines from 28 June to 5 July 2008.
The second regional competition will be played in Jakarta, Indonesia, hosted by the Indonesian Rugby Football Union in mid-July 2008. The third regional competition will be hosted in Qatar and features Mongolia, Macau and Qatar while the fourth and final competition will be held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan amongst Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Iran in September 2008.
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