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Rugby: Top two on Asian Sevens Series to compete in World Series qualifiers

Lote Tuqiri, who scored a hat-trick against Sri Lanka in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month, is in Japan’s squad for this weekend’s Thailand Sevens.

Lote Tuqiri, who scored a hat-trick against Sri Lanka in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month, is in Japan’s squad for this weekend’s Thailand Sevens, where the team will bid to follow up their victory in Malaysia.

September 20, 2013: The IRB (International Rugby Board) has announced that the top two teams in this year’s HSBC Asian Sevens Series will compete in the core team qualifying event for the 2014-15 HSBC Sevens World Series. The qualifying event will be held as part of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens next March.


Hong Kong won last year’s Asian Sevens Series, although former winners Japan top the 2013 standings after beating Hong Kong in the final of the season-opening Malaysia Sevens.


Hosts Malaysia (left) beat China (right) and Korea to top their pool in the series opener in Kuala Lumpur.

Hosts Malaysia (left) beat China (right) and Korea to top their pool in the series opener in Kuala Lumpur.

The IRB decision was announced ahead of this weekend’s Thailand Sevens, which is the second leg of this year’s Asian Sevens Series and is also doubling as the first of two ranking tournaments on this year’s Asian Women’s Sevens Series. The tournament comprises 12 core teams on the men’s series, four invited men’s teams and 12 women’s teams.


The results from this year’s women’s series will be used to determine which teams will be invited to an IRB Women’s Sevens World Series core team qualification tournament to be held in 2014, which in turn will determine the number of teams invited from each region to participate in the 2014-15 series. The number of teams from each region to be invited to the qualification tournament has yet to be decided.


Many of the men’s teams are back at full strength this weekend, with Hong Kong and China now having their full sides to select from after fielding teams to compete in both Malaysia and the National Games in China in early September.


Hong Kong welcome back four players from the squad that took part in the National Games, with danger men Salom Yiu Kam-shing, Alex McQueen, Simon Leung Ho-yam and Rowan Varty all making their 2013 series debut in Bang Saen. Max Woodward, the former A team and U20 standout, will make his senior-squad debut, having returned to Hong Kong following university in the UK.


Jamie Hood led the team to a runners-up finish in Kuala Lumpur in round one and will retain the captaincy despite the return of Varty, who has captained the sevens side for the past three years.


Japan welcome back Katsuyuki Sakai among a new intake of players for Thailand. Sakai led Japan to their wins in Borneo and Singapore in last year’s series and at this year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow. Lomano Lemeki, the MVP of the Malaysia Sevens, remains in the 12-man squad, which features 11 professionals from Japan’s Top League.


South Korea will be looking to improve on their opening-day performance in Kuala Lumpur, when they lost 35-14 to the hosts before eventually taking third place.


Sri Lanka lost 15-10 to Korea in the third place playoff in Kuala Lumpur, but fourth was their highest-ever finish on the series. The Lankans have recalled forward Sajith Saranga for this weekend’s tournament to bolster their scrum, while behind the pack, Roshan Weeraratne returns to the side who are always a danger in open play, but may be hampered by the wet conditions expected this weekend.


Thailand Sevens, HSBC Asian Sevens Series

IPE Stadium, Bang Saen, Chonburi, Thailand


Japan : Katsuyuki Sakai (Captain), Lote Tuqiri, Tokiro Harada, Dai Ozawa, Tomohiro Shokai, Masaru Sugaya, Taiki Matsunobu, Takashi Suzuki, Takumi Ito, Shingo Nakashima, Lomano Lava Lemeki, Jamie Henry.


Hong Kong: Jamie Hood (Captain), Rowan Varty, Salom Yiu Kam-shing, Alex McQueen, Tom McQueen, Simon Leung Ho-yam, Lee Jones, Max Woodward, Raef Morrison, Tomasi Lawa, Nick Hewson, Ben Rimene


Sri Lanka: Fazil Marija (Captain), Saliya Kumara, Dinusha Chathuranga, Srinath Suriyabandara, Mithun Hapugoda, Sadun Herath, Chula Susantha, Pradeep Liyanage, Jason Dissanayake, Shehan Pathirana, Roshan Weeraratne, Sajith Saranga


Men’s pools (September 21-22)

Pool A – Japan, Philippines, Singapore

Pool B – Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei, Kazakhstan

Pool C – Korea, Malaysia, UAE

Pool D – Hong Kong, Thailand, China

Non-core teams India, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Laos will play a round-robin competition on September 21 to decide rankings 13-16. On September 22, they will then compete against the third-ranked teams in each pool in the Bowl quarter-finals.


Women’s pools (September 20-21)

Pool W – China, Philippines, Laos

Pool X – Hong Kong, Thailand, Sri Lanka

Pool Y – Kazakhstan, Singapore, Guam

Pool Z – Japan, Chinese Taipei, Korea


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