This year’s IRB Sevens World Series is among the
most evenly contested ever with the four tournaments played to
date having been won by three different teams: New Zealand, Fiji
and Samoa. Adding to the excitement, the Official Draw for the
largest tournament on the Series, the Cathay Pacific / Credit
Suisse Hong Kong Sevens, was held Thursday evening in Hong Kong.
As the only 24-team event on the circuit, the results of the draw
- and the 30 series points that go to the Cup champions in Hong
Kong - could be the crucial factor in determining the Series
champions in 2010.
New Zealand won the opening two events in Dubai
and South Africa, while defending Hong Kong Sevens champions Fiji
took home the honours in Wellington and Samoa picked up its fourth
overall championship in the 11-year history of the Series last
weekend in Las Vegas.
Currently, New Zealand top the table with 84
points followed by Samoa on 70 and Fiji with 68. Four-time Hong
Kong Sevens champions England lie further back but within striking
distance on 50 points – with the points rewarded for a fifth Hong
Kong Sevens Cup enough to catapult them, sixth placed Australia
(46 points) or seventh-placed Kenya (44 points) back into the
The expected 120,000 visitors to the Hong Kong
Sevens will be in for more excitement than ever before as the
latest evolution in the 35-year history of the tournament sees the
introduction of a new Shield championship.
The change will see what was the Bowl
competition now become the Shield competition, and what was the
Plate competition becoming the Bowl. The winning Cup
quarter-finalists will still proceed to the Cup semi-finals but
the losers will now proceed to the Plate semi- finals rather than
being ushered out of the tournament. In addition to still having a
competition to play for, the losing Plate semi-finalists have a
chance to improve their position on the Series table by playing
for a possible 16 points as compared to the eight points on offer
under the previous scoring system.
“The new structure creates three additional
matches involving some of the top teams. As an example, last
year’s losing Cup quarter- finalists were Argentina, Australia,
England and New Zealand. We can also look forward to an additional
final which is certain to ramp up the excitement of ‘Sevens
Sunday’ in Hong Kong even further,” said Tournament Director
Changing the Series points and tournament
structure in Hong Kong will also keep the Series competitive
longer in the wake of Hong Kong, which awards more points than any
other IRB World Sevens Series event as the only 24-team tournament
on the circuit.
Added to the increased points on offer and the
growing parity of the IRB World Sevens Series is the fact that
Hong Kong offers the largest prize purse in international sevens
(US$150,000), setting the stage for another frenetic weekend of
fast action, furious tackling and the festival atmosphere that
makes the Hong Kong Sevens a legendary event in world rugby and
one of Asia’s top annual sporting events.
Draw for the 2010
Cathay Pacific / Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens
Series second seed Samoa is the top seeded team
in Pool A. Samoa will face Argentina, Russia and Italy.
Series leader New Zealand is the tournament’s
second overall seed in Pool B, where they will be matched up
against Scotland, France and Chinese Taipei.
In Pool C, defending Hong Kong Sevens champions
Fiji are matched against the USA, Portugal and Thailand.
Pool D sees Australia matched up with Canada who
lie in 10th place overall on the Series table. Tonga and China
complete Pool D.
Pool E features some of the world’s top rugby
rivalries with an exciting Home Unions clash between England and
Wales and a tantalizing rematch between Asian rivals Japan and
Hong Kong, the gold and silver medallists respectively in the East
Asian Games Sevens competition last December.
Traditionally one of the most evenly matched and
exciting pools due to the seeding structure of the Hong Kong
Sevens, Pool F features Kenya as the top seed in a reversal of
fortunes alongside reigning IRB World Sevens Series champions
South Africa. Zimbabwe and Korea join this ultra-competitive pool.
The Cathay Pacific / Credit Suisse Hong Kong
Sevens will be played from 26 to 28 March 2010 at the 40,000-seat
Hong Kong Stadium.
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