Asia Rugby announced a new structure and dates for the Asia Rugby Championship to give all three countries the opportunity to pursue their Rugby World Cup 2023 dream.
“For us, it was and will always be paramount to protect the integrity of our fifteens tournaments, the Asia Rugby Championship that acts as the pinnacle of the Regional Association calendar, especially in a year that offers a pathway to the Rugby World Cup 2023,” explained Asia Rugby President Qais Al Dhalai.
The original tournament was supposed to be played in 2021, however, had been pushed back multiple times to allow ample time for teams to participate safely owing COVID-19, thus and despite Hong Kong announcing their withdrawal from the event, Asia Rugby insists to ensure a full pledge of 3-team is maintained.
“I would like to thank Asia Rugby’s Competitions Committee, especially the Chairperson Mr Asanga Seneviratne and his members as after intensive meetings and persistence, we have managed to come up with a framework that will allow all three countries to take part while keeping in mind the critical factor, the athletes welfare ” added the Asia Rugby President.
The tournament will now kick off on the 4th of June with South Korea hosting Malaysia at home In Incheon. The winner of this game will host Hong Kong in the final. If Korea wins they will host Hong Kong on the 8th of July in Incheon whilst if Malaysia wins they will host Hong Kong on the 9th of July in Kuala Lumpur.
The winner of the Asia Rugby Men’s Championship 2022 will play Tonga in Nuku’alofa on 23rd July to directly qualify to the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France with the loser joins the final qualification event scheduled to take place in November 2022 and will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for Rugby World Cup.