Qatar Rugby Reports that the stage is set for the first ever Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy (ARST), an 11-nation continental championship, which will be held on March 3 and 4 at the Aspire Rugby Pitch in Doha.
Iran, Jordan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Philippines, Thailand, India, Pakistan, UAE, Singapore and hosts Qatar are participating in the Coffee Brewer-sponsored top grade competition, which is second only to the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in the order of importance.
Hosted by the Qatar Rugby Federation (QRF), the event is an annual series of regional rugby seven’s tournaments run by Asia Rugby and it follows the sport programme of World Rugby and its regions which reflect the diverse sporting culture of the continent.
The tournament schedule involves a total of 26 matches including, pool play (round robin) followed by quarter-finals, semis and playoff matches. Each team will play two matches on Day 1 before entering the quarter-finals on day two. There will be three finals played – the Cup, Plate and Bowls.
The duration of each match of the tournament is 14 minutes (seven minutes for each halves) with a minute half-time. The winners of the ARST Doha 2017 gain promotion to the next Asia Rugby Sevens Series and as such, will have an opportunity at qualifying for the Rugby World Cup (WC7’s) in San Francisco in 2018.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, QRF President Yousef al Kuwari said, “We are happy to welcome the continent to Doha. We’re prepared to give our best and to ensure that all the participants leave Doha with fond memories. Rugby is becoming bigger by the day in Qatar and we thank Asia Rugby for the confidence reposed in us to host this prestigious tournament.”
“This is so far the biggest tournament not only for Qatar but for the GCC as well. We are very much confident of it been successful as everything is 100 percent ready. Our team is ready to give their best and we hope to win. The competition is tough with strong teams like Singapore, UAE and Iran participating. We expect to experience two-days of beautiful rugby,” Kuwari added.
The event was attended by Competitions Consultant at Asia Rugby Aaron Stockdale, QRF Secretary-General Abdullah al Khater, QRF Director Omran al Sherawi, Qatar national team captain Mubarak al Malik as well as team managers and captains of the Nepalese and Thailand’s national teams.
Stockdale said, “Asia Rugby is keen to promote the sport across the continent and this tournament is one of the initiatives laid out in line with the vision. We welcome all the teams to Doha and wish them the best of luck at the tournament. QRF has done tremendously well within the short period of its existence and we are confident that the tournament will be very successful.”
Speaking about his team’s chances, Nepal’s team manager Gopa Chetri said, “Participating in this competition is much more important to us than anything else. We are happy to be involved in a continental competition of this nature for the first time. Rugby started in Nepal four years ago and to get to this level is a huge achievement for us. We hope to learn a lot from this tournament and bring the experience to bare back home.”
On his part, Malik, the Qatar national team captain, said, “We are set to give the tournament our best shot. Our aim is to host to win and hopefully our wishes will come true. The preparations from our end have been great and we hope luck will smile on us in the competition.”
Sherawi, who is also an executive director at Strategic Partner Alliance (SPA) – the parent company of Coffee Brewer, said, “Our strategic partnership with the QRF is aimed at boosting the sport in the country. We are proud to be the major sponsor of this all-important tournament and we are determined to do wonders for rugby in Qatar in partnership with the federation.”
Victor Bolorunduro ,Doha