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Phuket to host first 80-80 international rugby tournament



Phuket to host first 80-80 international rugby tournament | Thaiger

PHUKET: Dr Marut Muangkeo, President of the Thai Rugby Union (TRU), has announced that the world’s first international 80-80 rugby tournament, in which all players each must not weigh more than 85 kilograms, will be held in Phuket from August 6 to 14.

Apart from the weight restriction, 80-80 rugby is full 15-a-side contact rugby played under the existing International Rugby Board (IRB) laws for official under-19 matches.

The name 80-80 was adopted because no player can weigh more than 80kg at the start of a season.

Auckland Rugby Union, New South Wales Union and Japan Rugby Football Union have all confirmed to compete against Thailand in August. “These Unions represent the ‘powerhouses’ of Southern hemisphere rugby and of course, Japan is the leading rugby nation in Asia, being the only one to have made a World Cup,” Dr Marut said in a press release.

“[The event] should prove to be one of the most competitive and closely fought rugby competitions between Asian Unions and Southern hemisphere unions ever.”

Don McBain of the TRU told the Gazette that although the tourney was originally scheduled to be played in Bangkok, the Ministry or Sports and Tourism decided to have Phuket host the tourney as part of its post-tsunami recovery policy.

Dr Marut explained, “When told of the venue change, representatives of Auckland Rugby Union and New South Wales Rugby Union were very enthusiastic. They will be spending some time in Bangkok as they pass through, but were more than happy to be playing their rugby in Phuket.”

Squads of roughly 30 players, coaches and managers will be staying in Phuket for a full 10 day and nights. “And because the matches are 15 a side, requiring mandatory rest periods between matches, there will be plenty of time for the teams to take in all the tourist activities,” said Dr Marut.

Also expected to attend, despite their demanding schedules, are the Chairman of the Australian Rugby Union, Dilip Kumar, and the Chairman of Auckland Rugby Union, Ken Baguley.

The IRB are expected to send both technical development managers and media representatives to study and record the tournament; filming of the event will be televised worldwide on the IRB’s weekly Total Rugby program.

However, Mr McBain explained that it has yet to be determined whether the tourney will be televised locally in Thailand.

He added that he expects the popularity of 80-80 rugby to skyrocket. “The potential for this is huge. If it’s anywhere near as successful as it has been in New Zealand, we’re sure it will take off,” Mr McBain said.

Although 80-80 rugby is a relatively new form of the classic sport, in the Auckland region alone some 200 clubs already play 80-80.

Dr Marut was enthusiastic about Thailand’s potential to perform well internationally in the sport because “it will be a competition based on individual skills, teamwork and technique only, without the domination of physical power that can be generated by some of the physically bigger peoples such as Fiji and South Africa.

“The concept is particularly appealing to Asian and African countries because these Unions can now compete. Thailand recognized this and has taken a valuable and enviable initiative, now grabbing the lead over every other union in the world,” he said.

“Imagine the interest if Thailand were to end up in the top 4 nations in the world, and with weight grade, there is no reason why that could not be,” Dr Marut added.


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