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HK Sevens to kick off Friday

Updated: 2013-03-22 07:28
By Tang Zhe ( China Daily)

This year's Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens tournament, which starts on Friday, boasts the largest field in the event's 38-year history.

Twenty-eight teams will do battle. The Hong Kong Sevens event has been included as part of the HSBC Sevens World Series competition and the 15 international core teams in that series plus Asian Sevens champion Hong Kong and 12 qualifiers will determine the entrants for the final Sevens World Series qualification event, the London Sevens, in May.

The move to 28 teams is the first increase in the Hong Kong Sevens field since the 24-team standard was adopted in 1984. The Hong Kong Sevens will also be the largest Sevens World Series tournament since its inception in 1999.

Of the 28 teams at this year's HK Sevens, Brazil and Jamaica are making their debuts, becoming the 52nd and 53rd teams to take part in the tournament since 1976.

The 15 HSBC SWS core teams are Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, the US and Wales.

In a testament to the growing parity in international Sevens rugby, five different teams have won the five SWS events played to date this season. New Zealand is the current series leader with 96 points, followed by South Africa, Samoa and Fiji.

The parity of the series makes a win in Hong Kong even more important and will be a decisive factor in deciding the overall SWS champion.

The Cup winner in Hong Kong will receive 22 points, while the runner-up will collect 19. Third and fourth-place finishers receive 17 and 15 points respectively.

The $100,000 prize for the Cup champion in Hong Kong will only add to the intensity of the competition this weekend at Hong Kong Stadium. Hong Kong offers the largest purse in international Sevens ($150,000), with the runner-up receiving $25,000 and each Cup semifinalist taking home $12,500.

A separate 12-team HSBC Sevens World Series pre-qualification tournament will also be held this weekend.

At the end of the 2012-13 SWS competition, promotion and relegation from core team status will come into effect and the five teams advancing from the pre-qualifying competition in Hong Kong will contest a final core team qualifier in London.

The London Sevens will feature 20 teams and two competitions: In the first, the top 12 ranked sides in the SWS after the Glasgow Sevens will compete for the London title and final SWS points. In the second, the 13th, 14th and 15th-ranked core teams after the Glasgow event will compete against the four qualifiers from Hong Kong and Asian champion Hong Kong for the three available core team places in the 2013-14 SWS.

A record 70 men's matches will be played at this year's HK Sevens. Matches start at 4 pm on Friday and 9 am on Saturday and Sunday. For a 10th consecutive year, the event is sold out, with all 120,000 tickets snapped up for the three-day tournament.


(China Daily 03/22/2013 page23)

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