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80-80 rugby to return to Phuket



80-80 rugby to return to Phuket | Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: Adisak Hemyoo, honorary secretary of Thai Rugby Union (TRU), today confirmed that 80-80 rugby will return to Phuket with an international tournament on the island from November 16 to 23.

Teams from Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka, as well as from big guns Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, have all confirmed to take part, along with hosts, the Thai national rugby squad.

The world’s first international 80-80 rugby tournament, in which all players must each not weigh more than 85 kilograms, was held in Phuket in 2005. Last year, the tournament in Phuket was canceled due to international concerns over the coup; a smaller tournament was held in Bangkok instead.

“Teams from Wales, England and France have also expressed serious interest in joining the event,” said Don McBain, one of the key organizers of the event, adding that a team from Indonesia is also considering taking part.

Indonesia recently beat Brunei to win the Borneo Cup and the Asian Nations Series Competition.

“The quality of rugby is expected to be very high,” said K. Adisak.

Although a venue has yet to be confirmed for the tournament, officially dubbed “In celebration of HM The King’s 80th Birthday, International Rugby-80 Tournament 2007”, the preferred site is Karon Stadium, where K. Adisak inspected the pitch and facilities today.

Concern was expressed over the condition the pitch at Karon will be in at the time of the tournament.

Karon Stadium is heavily used for local soccer competitions, but unlike in soccer, a poor-quality rugby pitch is likely to result in serious injuries.

K. Adisak said, “The 80-80 rugby tournament is not like other events where the pitch is used all day, every day of the competition. We will be playing only a few games on it a day. The pitch will get a rest on the lay days.”

The unconfirmed schedule currently has teams playing on the Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the event.

“In the competitions being held there now, they use the ground every day. If they do not allow the ground to be used before the event, the grass will grow back within two weeks,” said K. Adisak.

K. Adisak will meet his counterparts in Japan and Korea next week to discuss details of teams from those countries taking part in the event.

He added that feedback from coaches and managers about Phuket being the venue had been positive. “They all say that this is a great place to have the tournament,” he said.

“Each team is expected to bring 30 to 50 people, so imagine if we can attract a full quota,” he added.

80-80 rugby games will be televised in Thailand on True Visions, but broadcasts outside Thailand are still being brokered, K. Adisak said.

“80-80 rugby was launched last year in Australia with just four teams – this year there are 24 teams. So the growth of the sport is exponential,” Mr McBain explained.

Next year the tournament will be held in New Zealand, where local clubs will be celebrating 120 years of the sport.


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