South Korea have won Asia’s Development 7s in Vientiane, Laos, and with it promotion to the next Autumn’s senior championship series.
India and Pakistan's women meet on a rugby field for the first time
Asia’s annual Development Sevens brings together the continent's rising rugby nations, and also acts as a qualification tournament for the senior championship series. This year seven teams took part- South Korea, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan - playing in a single round-robin pool.
2016 winners South Korea retained their title with impressive wins in all six of their games, only Malaysia offering a significant challenge, going down just 10-0, while every other game the margin was somewhat larger.
Despite their impressive performance against Korea, it was not Malaysia who took second. Instead India ended runners-up after a crucial 26-12 win at the end of the first day. The Philippines were also highly competitive, finishing fourth after losing to Korea and India by the odd try in three.
Laos, Pakistan and Nepal found the tournament rather tougher, but it was newcomers Pakistan who came close to recording the biggest shock of the weekend. They went down by more than 40 points to three of the top four nations, but when they came up against India it was a different matter.
Any sporting clash between these two geopolitical rivals is a big event, and - despite the huge difference in experience between the two teams – Pakistan rose to the occasion. In the end the key event seems to have been Pakistan’s Irum Shahzadi’s yellow card, India’s Hupi Majhi scoring the only try of the game as India sneaked it 5-0.
Over the tournament as a whole that Pakistani ill-discipline (almost certainly a result of their inexperience at this level) proved costly, with the team recording five yellow cards in their six games – but the performance against India suggests that if they can remain on the right side of match officials in future, they could become a significant force in Asian rugby.
Majhi’s try against Pakistan was one of six she recorded in the tournament, one of three players to average a try-a-game, the others being Malaysia’s Fidelia Telajan and Korea’s Minhuo Lee, who also ended as the top point scorer.
Day 1: South Korea 48-0 Pakistan; Laos 7-22 India; Malaysia 10-5 Philippines; South Korea 34-0 Nepal; Laos 36-5 Pakistan; Philippines 5-12 India; South Korea 10-0 Malaysia; India 43-0 Nepal; Philippines 31-22 Laos; South Korea 22-5 Philippines; India 26-12 Malaysia; Pakistan 17-7 Nepal
Day 2: Pakistan 0-5 India; Nepal 0-27 Philippines; Laos 5-26 Malaysia; Philippines 43-0 Pakistan; South Korea 35-5 Laos; Malaysia 54-0 Nepal; Pakistan 0-40 Malaysia; Nepal 0-29 Laos; South Korea 29-0 India