Hosts S'pore to take on HK, Taiwan in Asian Tri-Nations

Inoke Afeaki (with hand raised) giving instructions to Singapore's national rugby team during a training session.

SINGAPORE - After a 14-year hiatus, Singapore will once again host the Asian Tri-Nations rugby tournament.

The Republic will square off against Asian powerhouses Hong Kong and Taiwan at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium next month.

More than national pride is at stake as a good showing from the Reds will see them climb up the world rankings. Singapore are in 58th spot, two places adrift of Taiwan. Hong Kong, who will be sending a selection side, are ranked 29th.

The hosts are in good form, following their promotion to the Asian Five Nations Division I tournament. They edged out Malaysia 20-17 in last month's Division II final in Petaling Jaya.

Singapore coach Inoke Afeaki expects a much keener fight from Hong Kong and Taiwan, who are fitter and technically superior to the Malaysians.

Said the Tongan who assumed the national coaching role earlier this year: "The boys have played well and I hope they keep up the same intensity for this upcoming tournament. I'm particularly excited for the Taiwan match, as this will be a sneak preview for when we play them in the Asian Five Nations Division I next year."

Singapore's opening game will be against Hong Kong on Aug 18. The three-match tournament concludes with the hosts facing Taiwan on Aug 24.

Sports medical courses and rugby clinics will also be conducted by medical professionals and players from the three teams.