Ushered out of the Top 5 last year by the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates will host 2013 Division II champions Singapore in a one-off play-off match this April.
With former Wallaby Duncan Hall leaving the UAE coaches' seat vacant, the team will enter a re-building phase as it continues its development work to bring the Game to new audiences across the Middle East and Asia.
UAE Rugby's future hopes are increasingly resting with the continued development of the game at local level, as exemplified by the spirited displays of its emerging players' team, UAE Shaheen, in international sevens competitions and at the Asian Sevens Series in 2012 and 2013.
With the support of grizzled but capable veterans and renewed local interest in the Game, UAE Rugby should prove to be compelling watching in future seasons.
Kazakhstan's precarious hold in the Top Five competition ended in 2012 in the desert sands of Dubai when the UAE clinched a thriller 46-31. That defeat relegated the Nomads to Division I where they remain today after losing in the finals of last year's competition to the hosts in Sri Lanka.
While the conditions in Colombo played a role in preventing Kazakhstan from returning to the Top 5, the long in the tooth nature of last year's first XV has occasioned the need for a youth movement in Almaty.
That movement starts afresh in 2014 with Kazakhstan facing off with Chinese Taipei in a one-off Division I play-off played as a curtain-raiser to the Hong Kong v South Korea match in Hong Kong.
With a new look team comprising some of the top age grade players from Kazakhstan, the team will be looking to retain their spot atop Division I and continue their re-building with an eye on Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
Chinese Taipei has cemented its place as one of the leading teams in Asia with encouraging performances to stay in Division One over the past three seasons.
Mostly made up of young university graduates and players from the Armed Forces, Chinese Taipei has struggled to field a bulked up forward pack and has been forced to depend on speed and guile amongst their backs.
Fortunately, the backs possess plenty of flair which helped them stave off relegation last season by beating Thailand in the final match of Division I in Sri Lanka.
Chinese Taipei will face another challenge in 2014, with a single match play-off versus Kazakhstan to determine who remains in Division I in 2015. That game will offer the ultimate contrast in styles as the bulky Kazakhs will look to use their size advantage to good effect against the rapier-like counter-attacking style of Chinese Taipei.
The match will provide a fitting opener for the crunch Top 5 clash between Hong Kong and South Korea at the Hong Kong Football Club which is providing the neutral venue for the Division I game.
The Division Two champions will be keen to prove that last year’s performance was no flash in the pan as they vie for a creditable outing versus the UAE in their half of the Division I tournament in Dubai.
Singapore memorably eliminated Malaysia from promotion to Division I with a last-second 20-17 win over the hosts in the 2013 Division II championships in Kuala Lumpur.
Singapore will be looking to retain their consistency as they travel to Dubai for the Division I play-off with the Rugby Lions looking to come roaring back to the elite echelon of Asian rugby in 2015.