Malaysia may have suffered four defeats in this year’s Asia Rugby Championship, but that didn’t stop them winning many fans globally.
In their four matches, two of which were played in front of 15,000 people at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia did score five impressive tries.
And although their dream of qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2019 is over their experience of playing in the top echelon of Asia Rugby will have generated a great amount of interest and continued rugby’s upwards trajectory in Malaysia.
Two of their tries were scored by Etonia Saukuru and he spoke about the challenges that faced his side during this year’s competition playing against the higher ranked Korea and Hong Kong
“It was a good experience for me as it was my first time playing at this level,” said Saukuru.
“I learnt that quickly how physical and fast the game was going to be and that required a lot of mental discipline.
“It was even harder because of the difference in fitness levels and game strategy between us and the other teams but we have taken away valuable lessons of how to improve.”
Saukuru’s first try came against Hong Kong when he capitalised on a Hong Kong mistake and finished to send the home crowd wild.
His second was Malaysia’s fifth and last and he again showed his awareness and power to dot down at the Hong Kong Football Club.
Both moments will live long in the memory for Saukuru.
“I feel proud, proud to have played in these Rugby World Cup qualifiers,” added the number 8.
“I am also proud because I contributed towards the two tries and it was great to do this for my team.”
Malaysia will watch on this weekend as Hong Kong and Korea now do battle to determine who wins this year’s ARC Top 3 and progresses to the next round of Rugby World Cup qualification – a home and away play-off with the Cook Islands.