High stakes Asia Sevens tournament kicks off today
March 02 2017 10:40 PM
Qatar (left) and Philippines (right) have been drawn together in Pool B with Nepal completing the group. (QRF, Asia Rugby)

By Sports Reporter/Doha

There is a lot at stake at the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy that will be hosted by the Qatar Rugby Federation at the Aspire Warm Up and Rugby Stadium today and tomorrow.
Top seeds Singapore will be looking to put the disappointment of 2016 behind them as they look to bounce immediately back into the Asia Rugby Sevens Series 2017 by winning the promotion.
The Singapore squad have been pooled with Pakistan and Jordan, newcomers to the international game in the Asia Rugby ranks, and record says they shouldn’t face too many problems in progressing through their pool.
Singapore will also bring some side line experience with them to Doha having secured the services of one of the Sevens greats, Ben Gollings, as mentor, who will no doubt bring a confidence and a competitive edge to the side.
But not to be overawed, the remaining seeds of Thailand, the UAE and the Philippines will all have their eyes firmly on the trophy as they also look to return their Sevens programmes to the top echelon of Sevens rugby.
And with it, continue their path in the qualification for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens that will take place in San Francisco.
Second seeds Thailand have been pooled with Iran and Bangladesh.
While UAE and India are guaranteed a top-eight spot after Lebanon’s pull-out from the tournament, leaving only two teams in Pool C, they will be trying to top their pool for a favourable draw in the knockout stages.
Indian women’s team finished runners-up at the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy in Laos recently, and now the spotlight will be on the men.
The Philippines, pooled with Qatar and Nepal, should also progress through to the quarterfinal stage, but will be weary of a host side who will be looking to impress the local fans on home soil.
Earlier this week, Qatar’s Fijian coach Usaia Biumaiwai had told Gulf Times, “The Philippines are a good team and I have told the boys that we should not be underestimating any of the teams in the tournament. All the teams are prepared well and we should treat each game as a final.
“We have a few big forwards and that is our advantage, and style. Idea is to run straight at them, use offloads and break the opposition’s defence line.”
Qatar’s forward line is led by captain Mubarak al-Malik, who leads an eclectic mix of nationals and expat talent.
This is also the first time Qatar will be hosting such a high-profile rugby tournament.
For Nabin Giri-led Nepal side, the tournament, their third outside the Himalayan country, is expected to be a good learning experience.
“We are representing our nation and we want to do our best. There should be no lack of efforts, the rest is up to God. Let us see what happens,” team manager Gopal Chhetri had said at the pre-event press conference on Wednesday.

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