asian5nations Rugby Trophy launched; India seeded in Division II

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Mumbai, Apr 30 (UNI) The Indian Rugby team has been seeded in Division II among the 25 Rugby playing unions of Asia and now has a realistic chance of making it to the Top 5 Tier of Asian Rugby by 2010, Aga Hussain, vice-president of the Indian Rugby Football Union and member of the Asian Rugby Tournament Committee at the Bombay Gymkhana, said today.

Hussain was speaking at the unveiling function here of the ''asian5nations'' trophy, a 7.5 kg Sterling Silver Trophy, designed in Mumbai and crafted by the Whorra Brothers, Delhi, will be awarded to the country that emerges champion in the asian5nations Rugby Tournament, the symbol of rugby supremacy in Asia.

The Trophy, standing 20 inches tall on a 7-inch pedestal, has been sponsored jointly by the Bombay Gymkhana and Calcutta Cricket&Football Club (CC&FC) and was handed over to Hussain by the presidents Narendra Bubna and Noomi Mehta respectively, to be presented to the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU), headquartered in Hong Kong.

The honour and responsibility of creating this unique and special trophy was bestowed upon India keeping in mind the long and hallowed history of the game in the country.

The asian5nations rugby tournament, sponsored by HSBC, was launched by the Asian Rugby Football Union on February 21, an initiative featuring four tiers of elite competition across 25 Asian Rugby Unions with promotion and relegation opportunities for participating teams.

The top tier of the asian5nations will involve the top five rugby playing nations - Arabian Gulf, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan and Korea, playing a single round robin home and away format.

The next tier, the Division I, will feature Sri Lanka, China, Singapore and Chinese Taipei, while the third tier, Division II, will feature Malaysia, Thailand, India and Pakistan.

The final tier, involving the 12 remaining nations, will be divided into four groups of three nations each, playing regional tourneys.

As proof of the uniquely inclusive nature of the asian5nations, the last placed team in the Top 5 competition in 2008, will be relegated to the 2009 Division I competition, to be replaced by the top placed team in Division I. The promotion and relegation policy will also be in effect for the Division I and Division II competitions, guaranteeing an equal share of the spoils for Asia's most progressive unions.

Hussain said ''There finally is a system in place to chart the progress of rugby playing nations in Asia. The asian5nations, with its promotion and relegation policy, gives India a realistic chance of making it to Division I in 2009 and then a slot in the Top 5 tier is not far away.'' UNI GS SSS AG RL VC1955

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