Team United Kingdom emerged as the champion of the fiercely contested two-day Rugby League in the Nation’s Cup, after pipping defending champions Team Malaysia to the top of the league via points difference. Team Egypt placed third in the league despite failing to win any of their matches or scoring a single try, as Team Pakistan pulled out of the league in the 11th hour.
Team UK maintained an unbeaten run as they defeated both Team Malaysia and Team Egypt to finish at the top of the league on the first day of the event, as the latter teams settled for second and third spots respectively. The highly anticipated match between Team UK and Team Malaysia ended with the former winning the match by the narrowest of margins, creating a two-way battle to the crown as Team Egypt risked an early exit out of the title race.
Day 1 results:
Malaysia 28-0 Egypt
UK 28-0 Egypt
UK 14-7 Malaysia
*Team Pakistan withdrew from the league
The day started off with the host nation taking on Team Egypt in a must-win match for the former in order to keep up with the strong challenge posed by Team UK in Day 1. The match started off in a high pace as Team Egypt swiftly made their physical presence known by throwing in hard tackles. However, a well-organised Team Malaysia soon found loopholes in the Egyptian defense and managed to get their deserved tries in either halves of the game to the delight of the local supporters. The match ended 34-0 in Team Malaysia’s favour, with the host failing to convert many of their drop goals which proved to be costly in the later stage of the competition.
Shortly after winning their first game of the day, Team Malaysia faced a swift acid test as they took on Team UK in the battle for top spot. Having won the first game, Team UK made an electric start in which one of the players blasted past the Malaysian defense from the halfway line to grab the first try of the game which prompted a massive cheer from the supporters. Team Malaysia was struggling to keep up with the gameplay initially, as Team UK took full advantage of their physical and pacey players to trouble the Malaysian defense. Later in the game, a defiant Team Malaysia fought back by scoring consecutive tries which left Team UK trailing in the second half. As the match reached its climax, tackles flew in and Team UK player Rafique suffered a mild concussion which lead to him being stretched off the field. When play resumed, Team Malaysia held on their lead to record a narrow, but convincing win of 15-12. The crowd went ecstatic and Team UK players lined up to perform a guard of honor for the host nation players, a beautiful gesture which highlighted a show of sportsmanship within the game.
Team Malaysia looked to have successfully defended their title with that huge win over their fiercest rivals in the league, but the unthinkable happened. As the Malaysian players patiently waited at the sidelines of the field, Team UK ran riot in the final game against Team Egypt. Team UK repeatedly scored tries after tries to cap the score at a whopping 46-0 which enabled them to dramatically snatch the title from Team Malaysia via points difference. This wrapped up a miserable outing for Team Egypt in the competition as they finished third in the league.
Day 2 results:
Malaysia 34-0 Egypt
UK 12-15 Malaysia
UK 46-0 Egypt
*Team Pakistan withdrew from the league
Team UK are the new Rugby champions, ending a breathtaking competition filled with action and drama.
Ignite also had the opportunity to interview some of the participants:
Mohamed Zakri (Team Malaysia): “Overall, it was a great outing for us. We managed to win most of our matches convincingly, and it was difficult as both UK and Egypt had many physical players which caused quite a problem for us seeing that most of our players are smaller in size. Nevertheless, our only regret is that we narrowly lost to Team UK in Day 1 which saw us losing out on the title by points difference. Bitter experience, but anything can happen in Rugby and this is just one of them. I’m proud of my team and we hope to reclaim back the title in the next edition of this tournament. Congratulations to Team UK on the well-deserved victory.”
Aizuddin Zainol (Team Egypt): “I felt that we didn’t do enough in all of our matches. It was disappointing for us because we had quality players to win matches, but our defense wasn’t organized enough. However, there’s plenty to learn from these matches as both Team UK and Team Malaysia pointed out our weaknesses and we could work to rectify them in future. Kudos to UK on being the new champions.
By Andrew Chia