With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Asia will have two representatives in action on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Malaysia and Sri Lanka will compete in the Games, looking to gain valuable experience alongside some of the greatest sides in the game.
Ben Gollings, a former Sri Lanka sevens head coach, is now in an advisory role with Singapore Rugby supporting both their men’s and women’s sevens programs but is excited to see how his former side get on this week.
“I remember playing Sri lanka in 2006 for England,” said Gollings.
“They are a great side. Having coached them, they have a lot of talent there. It will be tough for them as most of the sides compete regularly on the world series but Sri Lanka can cause an upset and with the type of draw that has been placed on the games this year teams should not take them lightly.
“They have grown and grown. They have stepped up in regards to their fitness and conditioning which is a very important side of the game that allows them to be more competitive. They understand the game better and are tactically more astute.
And with Malaysia also competing, Gollings believes it is a great opportunity ahead of the Asian Games, with rugby in Asia becoming increasingly competitive.
“This is great rugby in Asia. Malaysia played very well in the SEA Games winning gold and to get this type of experience is invaluable for them. The players will grow through this, and will be able to rub shoulders with the big guns. It’s a chance in a life time experience.
“It is an exciting time for Asia and this provides very good exposure. Asia has a lot to offer the game of rugby and to see it have this exposure helps sell the sport and get people activated to play it.
“Places like China are a sleeping Giant, Japan are already showing their potential and other Asian countries are on the up. There is a thriving rugby community and this will only help its growth. I am happy for Aisian Rugby.”
For the former Sri Lanka Sevens head coach the Commonwealth Games was where he won a silver medal in 2006 alongside the likes of Danny Care and current England coach Simon Amor, and this year they are being played in his home town.
“I am very excited about the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games,” added Gollings, who holds the record as the all-time leading points scorer in rugby sevens.
“I live here so its great to be in the home town watching it unfold. Having played in 2006 in Melbourne, which was a fantastic competition, these Games are going to be even bigger.
“Winning silver in Melbourne was awesome. There were some very strong sides and we just missed out on the Gold to New Zealand having beaten Fiji, Samoa, Australia on the way. The stadium and crowd were amazing. The event was very special and I have a lot of great memories from it. I wish I was still playing for Gold Coast 2018.
“The Games are very Important, it played a big part in getting Sevens to become an Olympic sport and it offers another great competition every four years.
“Sevens now has an Olympics, World Cup and Commonwealth Games – you can’t beat that. It offers the players a great opportunity to experience and be a part of a big sporting event.
“All the top sevens nations are there so it makes it very competitive and is often the showcase event at every games.”