Mumbai: The third and final ranking leg of the HSBC Asian Rugby7s for men, to be held at the Bombay Gymkhana on October 13 and 14, would see debutants India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in action along with 12 other teams.
India are bunched in Pool D with top-seeded Hong Kong, 5th-seeded Thailand and 8th-seeded United Arab Emirates while Pakistan are in Pool C along with Chinese Taipei (seeded 3), Korea (4) and Kazhakstan, it was announced at a media conference on Wednesday.
The other two pools are topped by Japan and China, seeded second, respectively. Japan are pooled with Philippies (7), Singapore and Afghanistan while China have Sri Lanka (5), Malaysia (9) and Iran in their cluster.
"Pakistan players have got their visas and will be here on Friday. I want to thank the government of India`s various ministries for clearing the visas of all the overseas teams," said Indian Rugby Football Union president Pramod Khanna.
"Indian men have made good progress over the years and are ranked 68th currently though we are struggling a bit (for finances) after the government support we received for the Commonwealth and Asian Games (in 2010)," Khanna said.
Trevor Gregory, vice president of Asian Rugby Football Union, said that he has witnessed "noticeable progress" in the Indian men`s 15-a-side team over the years as they have started beating even teams like China.
The tournament is important for defending series champions Japan and Hong Kong, who are second and first in the standings with 31 and 16 points respectively.
Japan will be awarded an average of points based on their performance in Borneo 7s (which they won) and here after being forced to withdraw from the Shanghai 7s due to political tensions in Sino-Japanese relationship.
"Each match will consist of two halves of seven minutes each," said Khanna.
The winner of the Asian 7s series will gain an automatic entry as the 16th team in the 7s World Series, to be held in Hong Kong next March.