IRB downgrades Asian junior event
Hong Kong has agreed to host the eight-team Under-20 Asian Championships in September even though nothing is at stake due to the world governing body downsizing next year's Under-20 World Cup because of the financial downturn.
In previous years, the regional qualifiers decided which team would move on to the Junior World Trophy with the winners of this tournament qualifying for the World Cup.
But the credit crunch has forced the International Rugby Board to cut back on the number of teams taking part in the 2010 World Cup - from 16 to 12 - resulting in Japan, Asia's number one team, missing the cut.
'Japan were one of the four teams who were relegated as they finished in the bottom four of this year's Under-20 World Cup, which was held last week in Tokyo,' Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory said.
'What that means for the rest of Asia is that the Japan automatically qualify for the Junior World Trophy next year, leaving the winners of the Asian Championships with nothing more than bragging rights,' Gregory added.
Gregory and other officials from the Asian Rugby Football Union made clear to the IRB that they were unhappy with the situation, and had been assured that this arrangement was for one year only.
'We were told that this was just a one-off move and forced on the IRB by the financial downturn. Hopefully it will be all back to normal in 2011,' Gregory said.
Despite the lack of incentive, Hong Kong will be going all out to win the Asian Championships, having been edged out by South Korea on the last two occasions.
The other teams taking part will be Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. China have said they would be unable to field a team.
The eight teams will be divided into two pools with the winners of each pool meeting in the final. The tournament will be played at King's Park from September 3-13.