Asia Rugby Div 1 Championship – Tuskers turning up to end a long drought!

Asia Rugby Division 1 Championship 2024 will kick off the Asia Rugby season with Sri Lanka back in action in what promises to be a very exciting tournament with Sri Lanka hosting Qatar, Kazakhstan and India.

With a rich legacy spanning over 150 years, Sri Lanka stands as one of the oldest rugby-playing nations in Asia. This tournament marks the end of a 10-year long International Rugby hiatus at home soil as Sri Lanka played their last Rugby International at home on May (04th) 2014 at Colombo (Racecourse Ground), going down to Hong Kong (41-10) in the Asian Five Nation tournament. Due to various reasons, Sri Lanka missed out on hosting 15-a-side matches at home soil and their last away International was back in June 2019, Sri Lanka, competed in the Asian Division 1 tournament, winning the 3rd place playoff after beating Chinese Taipei. in Taipei by 72-17. During the same year, Tuskers also played a friendly encounter against Malaysia in Malaysia losing by 31-26.

This tournament is a welcome move for Sri Lankan Tuskers and their passionate fans who were eagerly waiting for their (men’s XV) return to International Rugby and that too in 15 a side format where the country has a greater following in domestic clubs and schools.

The importance of this tournament is further enhanced with Asia Rugby with the blessings of World Rugby has declared this Quadrangular Tournament as an “Environmentally Conscious Tournament” which is a pioneering Project for Asia Rugby to mitigate climate change and global warming and we are planning to implement the following.


  • Green Initiatives: Partner with “Planet Protectors” Eg: New Project ” A Try – A Tree” to plant a TREE for every TRY scored in this tournament and also awareness programs on protecting pollinators (honey bees) to increase forest cover, with “Bee Protection Organization”, calculate carbon footprint of air travel, local transport, hotel and other basic activities.


  • Calling for volunteers for waste reduction plan and to place recycling bins in the stadium and Post Event Cleanup with proper equipment, Water Refill stations & reduce single-use plastic bottles for players as well.

The tournament will be hosted at the Racecourse Ground in Colombo and will be played in a knock-out format with day 1 on the 30th of April seeing Qatar taking on Kazakhstan in the first semi-final at 16:00 local time, and the second game will see the hosts take on India at 19:00  local time.

Day 2 (4th May) will see the semi-final losers play for 3rd place at 16:00 and the winners play for the final at 19:00 local time. Fans across Asia and at home in Sri Lanka are excited to see the Sri Lanka team back in action.

Sri Lanka Rugby President Retired Group Captain Nalin De Silva commented: “Sri Lanka Rugby is delighted to host the Asian Rugby Division 1 tournament, scheduled to be held from April 30 to May 04 in Colombo, after 7 long years since an Asian rugby event has taken place at the Colombo Racecourse Stadium. We are looking forward to welcoming Qatar, Kazakhstan and the Indian rugby teams to Sri Lanka. With 145 years of legacy and as one of the oldest rugby-playing nations in Asia, our players wish to display their natural talents and skills and also to share and strengthen our deep-rooted cultural ties through rugby, with the visiting Asian rugby teams”.

Qatar Rugby Federation President Yousef Al Kuwari said “Our Qatar 15s programme is very important as we have aspirations to play at the highest level, we have come from Division 4 and have made important wins beating quite a few higher-ranked teams and consistently moving forward. This tournament will be a good test for us, I am sure our team is up for the challenge, and they will make us proud!”

The hosts, affectionately known as the Tuskers, last competed in the Asia Rugby Men’s Championship in Division 1 five years ago, in 2019 which was held in Chinese Taipei where they lost in the semi-final to the Philippines by 39-22 but came back strong to take 3rd place by beating the host Chinese Taipei.

Since then, Sri Lanka has not been able to compete, firstly due to the cancellation of all rugby activity due to the pandemic and then due to the union’s suspension by Asia and World Rugby over union governance issues.

Kazakhstan President Aigul Jartybayeva said “We are very happy to participate in the Asia Rugby Division 1 Championship in Colombo, Sri Lanka. We are keen to build our men’s team programme and hope to participate and compete in an Asia Rugby tournament such as this. In time, our men’s team can replicate the remarkable success achieved by our women’s programme in both in 7s and 15s, I would like to  wish all the athletes the best of luck.”

“All of us at Rugby India wish our Men’s team the very best for the upcoming Asia Rugby Championships Division 1 tournament in Sri Lanka. As a national federation, it is our consistent effort to create conditions for our players where they can put their best foot forward on the international stage. We are thankful to the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MYAS) & the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for all the support they have extended to us. ” added Rugby India President Rahul Bose.

Asia Rugby Competitions Committee Chairperson Asanga Seneviratne said: “I am excited to see international test rugby return to Sri Lanka. We are glad to see Sri Lanka Rugby putting their hands up to host the tournament and look forward to what we hope is another step towards the revival of international Rugby in Sri Lanka.”

Tuskers will be led by the most experienced player and former Peterite, current Club League-winning CR & FC Captain Sohiru Anthony, while his deputy will be former Trinity Lion, CR & FC and current Kandy SC star player Tharinda Ratwatte.  Tuskers though coming out after almost five years, have a fine blend of experience and youth with players who managed to shine well during the recently concluded Club Rugby League. They will be coached by veteran Rugby Coach Sanath Martis, assisted by Dushantha Lewke and Nilfer Ibrahim.

The Sri Lanka probable XV for their first game against India: Charith Silva, Pulasthi Dassanayaka, Janidu Fernando, Suhiru Anthony (Captain), Raveen de Silva, Adeesha Weerathunga, Tharindu Chathuranga, Lasindu Karunathilaka, Heshan Jenson, Thenuka Nanayakkara, Dinal Ekanayake, Tarinda Ratwatte (Vice-Captain), Akash Madusanka, Sudaraka Dikkumbura, Mursheed Doray,

Reserves: Azimir Fajudeen, Dushmantha Priyadarshana, Faiz Abdulla, Shasika Fernando, Nalaka Maduranga, Kavindu Costa, Hirantha Perera, Hirusha Nethmina, Stephan Gregory, Venura Kodagoda and Lahiru Thilakarathna.

The schedule

  • April 30: Qatar vs Kazakhstan at 4.00 p.m. Sri Lanka vs India at 7.00 p.m.
  • May 4: Playoff for third place at 4.00 p.m. Promotion for AR Top 4 at 7.00 p.m.

Learn more about Sri Lanka’s first International Rugby encounter; Ceylon’s first Rugby International – All Blacks

About Sujith Silva

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