Team line-up set for Hong Kong Sevens
Story and Photo: www.irbsevens.com
The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union today announced the 24 international teams set to take part in the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012, round seven of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Two teams, Guyana and the Philippines, will make their Hong Kong debuts, becoming the 50th and 51st countries to compete at the Hong Kong Sevens since its inception 37 years ago.
Invited by the International Rugby Board to compete in Hong Kong, Guyana were the winners of the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Sevens championships last November.
The Philippines become the 13th Asian team to take part in Hong Kong, qualifying as the fourth place finisher in the inaugural HSBC Asian Sevens Series in 2011. The Hong Kong round also marks the Philippines Rugby Football Union’s first ever participation in an HSBC Sevens World Series event.
The 12 core teams on the HSBC World Sevens Series will again feature at the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens: Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, USA and Wales.
This year’s HSBC Sevens World Series is proving to be among the most competitive ever with three teams winning the three tournaments played to date. Defending Hong Kong champions New Zealand won the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in South Africa and are currently tied with Fiji, winners in Australia. South Africa are in third place on 48 points followed by Dubai champions England who lie in fourth on 47 points. France lies in fifth place on 39 points.
Reinforcing Hong Kong’s unique position as the largest event on the World Series events, the remaining 12 competing teams hail from all over the world. Portugal, Russia and Spain bolster the tournament’s European contingent, while Zimbabwe adds to the African presence and Tonga rounds off the tournament’s traditionally strong Pacific Island representation. Canada and Uruguay will also return from the Americas.
Closer to home, the Hong Kong Sevens continues its role as the showcase event for Asian rugby with the region’s top four Sevens teams completing the field in 2012.
Those teams are Japan, champions of the 2011 HSBC Asian Sevens Series, runners-up Hong Kong, third-ranked China and the Philippines.