On 15 May Thailand, ranked 77th in the world, will face Kazakhstan who are ranked 15 places higher than them in 62nd.
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The winner of that match will face either Guam (70th) or the UAE (71st) in the final on 18 May.
As the lowest ranked side in the competition the odds are against them but one of their players, Franco Vorster, is aware of the opportunity hosting a tournament like this presents.
“Hosting a tournament like this is taking a step in the right direction for us,” said Vorster.
“It exposes people to international rugby here in Thailand. That influence is amazing and it is all about getting the message across to the younger generation and those not as informed about of rugby to get behind the sport and their team as well.”
In 2018 Thailand beat India 18-12 before a narrow defeat to Chinese Taipei 28-21 saw them miss out on promotion to Division I while Guam and Kazakhstan gained promotion from Division III.
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Vorster has hopes on gaining promotion to Division I at the end of this competition but is not looking to far ahead.
“We hope to go in and win the tournament but you have to take it step by step,” explained Vorster.
“We will take our first match against Kazakhstan before thinking about any potential final against Guam or UAE, but we will go full force.
“As hosts it is hugely important to do well, not only for us as a team but also to get the message across in Thailand exposing people to the sport and knowing that their national team is doing well.”
With an aim to be in the top five in Asia within the next 10 years, Thailand’s performance on the international stage will define that success. But an ever-improving development programme, which saw their U19 side finish runners-up in the U19 Division I in 2018, will also go a long way to seeing them achieve their goal.
“Rugby is growing strongly, especially from the younger levels coming through right through to university,” added Vorster.
“University competitions are strong and a lot of guys are competing hard to get into these teams and then maybe being drafted to play for some of the big clubs in Thailand.
“What is also nice to see is some of the regional teams from Thailand in the north, and north east, are also competing and hosting their own tournaments. This is uplifting and good to see for development of the sport in rugby.
“Our aim in the next 10 years is to get into the top five in Asia. With the programmes in place it should be feasible and the right management, Thailand will be up there.”
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