Pakistan rugby to make Asian Games debut
KARACHI: The Pakistan Rugby Union (PRU) will field the national team at the Asian Games for the first time in its history.
The squad will participate in the sevens event and according to PRU Secretary Arif Saeed, this will be Pakistan’s first high-profile event.
“Before this, we have been participating in Asian tournaments or test series with India, but this is a great opportunity,” Saeed told The Express Tribune. “It’s a breakthrough for us. If all goes well, we will compete at the Asian Games.”
Saeed added that preparations for the tournament are taking place and the players are training with temporary coach Chris Kumeroa of New Zealand.
“Kumeroa is here for a short-term assignment,” said Saeed. “He is a sevens specialist and we are hoping to get good results.
“But the dynamics of the game will be different. In the Asian Games, we can only use indigenous players and the nature of game itself is very different from 15-a-side format.
“In fact, most countries have a different team for the sevens event, so preparing the national side for the Asian Games will be a different experience for us this time.”
Saeed added that Pakistan can defeat teams like India and Mongolia, who are in the same division as Pakistan. However, he said that Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and even Sri Lanka could give the national team a tough time.
Rugby will be featured in the Olympics for the first time since 1924. This time, 12 teams will get a chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Games sevens event.
“It’s a great step,” said Saeed. “However, Pakistan will be focusing on the 2020 Olympics. The qualification path is open for this time as well, but there are 100 countries that play rugby and only 12 will compete at the main event, so our chances are almost non-existent.”