The Sevens and the Asian Games indicates where we are placed among the Asian Rugby teams. Sri Lanka is placed Sixth after Japan, Hong Kong, Korea Thailand and Malaysia. Sri Lanka won against India and Thailand, and went down fighting to Hong Kong in the quarter finals losing the game by 19 points to 14.
It had its anxious moments with Sri Lanka pressing on 5 meters from the Hong Kong goal line as the whistle sounded the end. Reality dawns only when you are exposed to it. Sri Lanka came within range of beating Hong Kong who eventually went down to Japan in the final. After fighting hard against the eventual silver medalist they went down tamely to Malaysia.The Japanese won the final and the gold. They defended their title managing to edge out Hong Kong by 28 points to 21. Rugby was well attended with around 80,000 spectators at the ground. The success of and growth of rugby in Asia is summarized in the statement below published on the websites of IRB and ARFU.
“The Rugby Sevens event at the Asian Games has simply been a massive success story both on and off the field,” said IRB Regional General Manager for Asia, Jarrad Gallagher. “The women’s game has taken its place at this level alongside the men’s for the first time and, although the home crowd did not get the results it wanted, the final knock-out matches provided an enthralling spectacle that will have people talking about rugby for a very long time.
“In the men’s event we saw just how competitive the landscape has now become with Hong Kong pushing powerhouse Japan all the way in the final, and all watched by upwards of 80,000 fans over the three days. "Overall I think it has shown how quickly things are moving in Asia, and how great the potential is for the future.”
The game is gathering miles in this region and has to be viewed seriously. Sri Lanka needs to take stock and keep polishing itself if they hope to attain that crystal sparkle. It is not only the sevens but the fifteens too that have to be kept in sight. It is a short time that remains before we face the might of Asia in the Asian 5 Nations series. Have we at least got ready to be ready for the big event? Pointing fingers blaming others and doing tit-for-tat must be thrown aside. The baby needs to be saved and not thrown away with the water.
It takes a long time to reconcile and to forge ahead .It needs only a few minutes to say something and start a war: at least to start a war of words. The important thing is to remember that you should not help history to record that the cure was worse than the disease. What the game is lacking is the flow of real benefits. The much touted constitution change needs to bring results to enrich the sport. It should not be like the traffic law. Everybody knows it is there but you see it broken with impunity. There is a cop within short eye distance to each other but the traffic flow is a continuous mess. That is because it is never managed but you see is waving hands and a whistle that need not be heard. Is that what is happening to this wonderful game of rugby. The bigger interest is the tit bits of the law that needs to be adhered to than the overall good that was expected by the framers.
Recently I was told that there was a notice for match officials to register under the requirements of the sports law. That is good, as the law says so. The important thing is whether that registration adds value to the game. Was it last year or the one before that there was much fuss made by the interim body that all referees must be registered? They did after an initial dose of friction. What has it done to add value to the game? Other than satiating the individual fancy and treading on the toes of somebody you don’t fancy there has not been any concrete effort to uplift the game after registration. If one were to look at the registrations there may be numbers.
The most important thing is whether these can referee or can they be made to be referees. I am taking the above as an example as I know that there was a registration process. What is needed is to have a plan for those who register in whatever capacity as match officials. Take the case of coaches. The process is that anybody can take to coaching. Some of them are unaware of the basics of child psychology required to handle kids. Others believe pumping iron is that way to build strength.
Try out a Gym and you might see the young sportsman pumping more iron than he should. Possibly he would not only ruin his rugby career but also his life as he may develop back problems. What we need is a process to take us forward and not a process that sees that the commas and full stops are in place.
Vimal Perera is a former
Rugby Referee, coach and
Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB