KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Rugby Union (MRU) Super League Championship and Super Cup will be a more competitive affair as teams are allow to have seven foreign players instead of two.
The championship, to be held from Feb 23 to Apr 28 sees favourites Cobra headlining Group A along with Asas, Bandaraya Dragons, RSC, RMR Warriors and Serdang Angels. While Group B features Keris Conlay, JLJ Di Raja, Blackhawks, UITM Lion, NS Wanderers and SSTMI.
The move to increase the number of foreign players both imports (professional players) and expatriates was decided in June last year with the aim of raising the standard of rugby in the country.
Each club is allowed to register four import players with only three allowed to be present on the field along with four expatriate players, bringing the total to seven players altogether.
“We want to raise the quality of rugby in Malaysia and we treat this competition as one of the best in the country. So we want our local players to play against the best,” said MRU president Datuk Wira Amiruddin Embi at the launch of the tournament at Menara Olympic Council Malaysia (OCM) yesterday.
“Hopefully, they will rise to the occasion and showcase their capabilities playing alongside the foreign talents,” he added.
However, out of the 12 teams, three – RMR Warriors, JLJ Di Raja and Blackhawks – do not have foreign players.
Hence there was some opposition to the new ruling yesterday as teams without foreign players would be at an disadvantage.
The championship will also be used to facilitate player selection for the national team to the A5N Divison Two tournament in June.
“If this tournament is going to be used to select national players, why are more foreigners being allowed to play? Shouldn’t the focus be on our Malaysian players?” said a bemused Blackhawks coach Rosli Omar.
“Last year, it was two (players). Now the teams can field up to seven at a time. It’s not fair. It’s makes us easy targets. Just watch our first match against Keris Conlay on Sunday and you’ll understand what I am saying,” added the former national player who represented Malaysia for seven years from 1996 to 2003.
“To put it simply, I just don’t want this to become a trend which will reduce the playing opportunities of our local players.”
The championship format is similar to that of last year in which 12 teams from peninsular Malaysia will compete in the Super League and the top three finishers go on to face Sabah’s SRC-Sandakan Eagles for the Super Cup.