New Tournament Format Promises Spectacular Sevens in 2012
The Official Draw for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012 was held on February 16 at Exchange Square in Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and the International Rugby Board (IRB) unveiled an exciting new format for the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens, with Hong Kong being awarded a unique status as the venue for the world’s first HSBC Sevens World Series Qualifier.
As such, this year’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will host two unique competitions side by side. The HSBC Sevens World Series (HSBC SWS) event will feature the 12 core teams currently competing on the Series.
A separate HSBC Sevens World Series Qualifier will also comprise 12 teams, including Regional champions from all six Rugby regions recognized by the IRB. In the HSBC SWS Qualifier, Hong Kong, together with 11 other teams will be playing for the right to become a core team. The three countries finishing in the top three positions from the Qualification tournament will be granted automatic core team status on the HSBC Sevens World Series 2012/2013, joining the 12 existing core teams on this year’s Series.
After the conclusion of tonight’s draw, both competitions are shaping up to be extremely exciting.
On the HSBC Sevens World Series front, this year’s Series is again a testament to the fast-rising parity in international sevens with four teams winning the five tournaments played to date. New Zealand, the defending Hong Kong Sevens champions, is the only team to have won twice on the Series after their victories in Port Elizabeth and Wellington.
As the Series heads into Hong Kong just 18 points separate the top four teams on the Series table: New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa and England; while 5th placed Samoa recently won its first event of the season with a thrilling victory last weekend in Las Vegas.
Currently, New Zealand tops the HSBC SWS table on 92 points with Fiji just five points adrift on 87. South Africa is in third place with 76 points followed by England with 74. After winning in Las Vegas, Samoa is in fifth place with 69 points.
The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens remains the largest tournament on the Series with 24 teams as opposed to the 16 teams participating at other HSBC SWS events.
Officiating tonight’s draw were: Stephen Lam, GBS, JP, Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government; T Brian Stevenson, SBS, JP, President of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU); Ivan Chu, Chief Operating Officer of co-title sponsor Cathay Pacific Airways; Guy Harvey-Samuel, Group General Manager, Head of International of co-title sponsor HSBC; HKRFU Chairman Trevor Gregory and Hong Kong Sevens Tournament Operations Director Rod Mason.
For tonight’s draw the 12 core teams in the HSBC SWS competition were grouped into Pools A, B and C. The Cup Winner, Runner-Up and Third Place finisher from Las Vegas, Samoa, New Zealand and Fiji, respectively, were seeded into the first band of Pool A, B and C. The remaining 9 teams were grouped into 3 groups of 3 based upon the HSBC SWS standings following Las Vegas and drawn into the 2nd, 3rd and 4th bands of Pools A, B and C.
Following the draw for the HSBC SWS competition, Pool A comprises Samoa, England, Argentina and Kenya. Pool B features Series leaders New Zealand, South Africa, Wales and the United States. Pool C features Fiji, Australia, France and Scotland.
For the 12-team HSBC SWS qualifier competition the teams were drawn into Pools D, E and F, each comprising four teams. The 12 teams were first grouped into 4 groups of 3 based on their performances at the HSBC SWS and other IRB Sevens events over the past two years and drawn into each band of Pools D, E and F.
Following the draw for the HSBC SWS Qualifier, Pool D features Tonga, Uruguay, the hosts Hong Kong and China. Pool E comprises Canada, Spain, Zimbabwe and debut team the Philippines. Pool F includes Portugal, Russia, Japan and the tournament’s second debutant in 2012 Guyana.
All team groupings have been ratified by the IRB and Core Teams and Qualifier Teams will not play against each other. All Core Teams participating in the Cup, Plate and Bowl shall receive HSBC SWS ranking points for the tournament. The top four placed teams from the Qualification tournament will receive ranking points in respect of their final placing in the HSBC SWS Shield.
The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will be played from March 23 to 25, 2012 at the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium. For more information please visit the official website at http://www.hksevens.com.
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