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Rugby Sevens: Japan drawn with New Zealand in Gold Coast Sevens

Japan won their place on the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series by winning the qualifying event at the Hong Kong Sevens in March. Photo: HKRFU / Power Sport Images.

Japan won their place on the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series by winning the qualifying event at the Hong Kong Sevens in March. Photo: HKRFU / Power Sport Images.

September 17, 2014: Japan will kick off their first season as a core team on the HSBC Sevens World Series with matches against defending champions New Zealand, Samoa and France in Pool A of next month’s Gold Coast Sevens in Australia.

 

Japan won their place on the series by winning the qualifying event held as part of the Hong Kong Sevens in March, becoming the first-ever Asian team to earn core-team status on the global circuit.

 

The Gold Coast event will be held at Cbus Super Stadium – formerly known as Skilled Park – from October 11-12 and is the first of nine legs on the 2014/15 series.

 

Commonwealth Games gold medallists South Africa will face Kenya, Samoa and American Samoa in Pool B. Hosts Australia, runners-up to New Zealand in the 2013 event, were drawn against Fiji, Scotland and Portugal in Pool C, while England, Argentina, USA and Canada face off in Pool D.

 

Australia’s Cameron Clark, a member of last season’s Sevens Dream Team, said a strong start would prove crucial, especially as the upcoming series offers four direct qualification spots for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

 

“The aim for us is to go one better than last year on the Gold Coast to get those all-important World Series points,” Clark said. “In order to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, we need to be at the top end of the World Series, playing in Cup quarter-finals and semi-finals on a regular basis. We ultimately want to be more consistent, something which we seem to be achieving with each passing tournament.

 

“We’re all looking forward to playing on the Gold Coast. We haven’t played a lot of footy lately and a lot of the squad are jumping out of their skin to get out on the paddock. We’ll have the crowd backing us. Friends and family will be there to support us and it’s always special to play at home.”

 

Avan Lee, the IRB’s General Manager for Sevens, said: “The 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series promises to be the most exciting season to date. With Olympic qualification at stake, all teams will want to start well in the Gold Coast.

 

“Reigning series champions New Zealand and Commonwealth Games winners South Africa as favourites, but a number of teams like Fiji, England, Australia and Canada are also desperate to gain direct qualification into the 2016 Olympics in Rio.”

 

Source: HSBC Sevens World Series (www.irbsevens.com); Editing by SportAsia

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