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Rugby: World Rugby CEO calls Hong Kong Sevens “game-changer”

DJ Forbes (New Zealand), Ed Jenkins (Australia), Osea Kolinisau (Fiji) and Kyle Brown (South Africa) head the top four teams in the HSBC Sevens World Series.

DJ Forbes (New Zealand), Ed Jenkins (Australia), Osea Kolinisau (Fiji) and Kyle Brown (South Africa) head the top four teams in the HSBC Sevens World Series.

March 25, 2015: World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper described the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens as a “game changer” ahead of the tournament’s 40th edition, which kicks off on Friday afternoon.

 

For the second year, the tournament will host a record 28 teams, comprising 16 for the HSBC Sevens World Series event and 12 for the circuit’s annual qualifier, in which the hosts will be among the sides bidding to win a core spot on the circuit.

 

Gosper was present at Wednesday’s traditional photo call at Marco Polo Hotel, which featured the 28 team captains, Giles Morgan of HSBC, Simon Large of Cathay Pacific Airways and Pieter Schats of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU).

 

“Over the last 40 years, Hong Kong has been the game-changer, the game-grower and the game-inspirer – and this wonderful event continues to be a driving force behind the sevens success story,” Gosper said.

 

Hong Kong is the sixth leg of the nine-stop Series. South Africa currently top the table on 93 points after collecting wins in Dubai and at their home event.

 

New Zealand – who have won 12 of the 15 Series – are second with 88 points after winning their home event and reaching finals in South Africa and Las Vegas, while Fiji are third with 86 points after lifting the Cup in Las Vegas last month as well as at the Series opener in Australia.

 

Australia, on 71 points, hold the crucial fourth spot in the standings, as the top four teams in the 2014/15 Series will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where rugby sevens will make its Olympic debut.

 

Gosper said: “The HSBC Sevens World Series’ winning blend of highly competitive action, thrilling skills and festival atmosphere is proving a hit with new young audiences, broadcasters and commercial partners around the world. It underscores why we are confident that sevens will be a hit at the Olympics.”

 

The Cup winners in Hong Kong will win 22 points, while the runners-up earn 19, and the third and fourth placed sides receive 17 and 15 respectively.

 

Japan, who won last year’s qualifier, are currently bottom ranked of the 15 core teams and risk being relegated after the ninth and final event in London in May.

 

Hong Kong will again have home support as they bid to win the qualifier, which features two teams from each of the six World Rugby regions. The Hong Kong Sevens is again sold out for all three days at the 40,000-capacity Hong Kong Stadium.

 

The first Hong Kong Sevens was played on March 28, 1976, at Hong Kong Football Club, with 12 teams participating in front of an estimated 3,000 spectators. Fiji, Japan and Hong Kong remain the only teams to have been represented at every tournament over the past 40 years.

 

For tournament information, visit: www.hksevens.com

 

Source: HKRFU (www.hkrugby.com); Editing by SportAsia

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