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Pools Announced for HSBC Asian Sevens Series in Borneo

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The pools for the Borneo Sevens, the second event on the inaugural HSBC Asian Sevens Series, were drawn in Malaysia on Wednesday.

The Borneo Sevens will be played this weekend at the Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

The seeding for the Borneo Sevens is based on the results of last month’s Shanghai Sevens and features 12 premier Asian teams drawn into three pools of four teams each.

Korea, the winners of the Shanghai Sevens, the inaugural event on the new HSBC Asian Sevens Series (HSBC A7S), are the top seeds for Borneo in Pool A.

Hong Kong, defending Borneo champions and beaten Cup finalists in Shanghai, are seeded at the top of Pool B.

Japan, the third-ranked team on this year’s HSBC Asian Sevens Series, tops Pool C.

The second seeds in each pool were drawn from Kazakhstan, surprise fourth-place finishers in Shanghai; China, Plate champions at their home event; and Malaysia, losing Plate finalists in Shanghai.

The third seeds in each pool were drawn from Philippines, Thailand and Chinese Taipei, the seventh, eighth and ninth overall finishers in Shanghai.

The fourth seeds in each pool were drawn from the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka and Brunei, making its debut on the HSBC Asian Sevens Series

Each team will play a round-robin competition within their pools on day one in Borneo. Day two will see straight knock-out matches to determine the final rankings for the HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2011. The top finishing teams will be in a strong position to qualify for invitation to the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in March 2012.

“The Borneo Sevens is the final ranking event in this year's HSBC Asian Sevens Series, so the stakes are high this weekend and we can expect exciting clashes between the best national teams from across the region,” said Mukhtar Hussain, CEO HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad and Global CEO HSBC Amanah. “The HSBC Asian Sevens Series was designed for Asia's top teams to help develop their potential through regular international competition. This sponsorship is a key part of the bank's commitment to helping the growth of the sport across Asia, both in terms of participation and spectators, as the rugby world builds towards its inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.”

While Korea remain the undisputed champions of the Shanghai Sevens, winning three consecutive titles including last month’s sudden-death win over Hong Kong in the Cup final, Japan and Hong Kong have been the dominant teams in Borneo over the past two years.

Japan won the inaugural tournament played in 2009, beating Hong Kong in the final. Last year, Hong Kong earned its revenge, pipping the Japanese 31-28 in a rain-sodden final. En route to last year’s Cup final, Hong Kong demolished Korea 43-0 in the semi- finals. It is a performance that the defending champions will be hoping to repeat after the bitter disappointment of their extra-time loss to Korea in Shanghai.

Hong Kong look on song again although injuries have forced towering prop forward Pale Tauti out of the side for Borneo. Tauti is replaced by flanker Nick Hewson, on his sevens debut after figuring prominently in Hong Kong’s successful HSBC Asian Five Nations 2011 campaign.

Joining Hewson as a new addition to the side for Borneo is Tim Alexander, an experienced seven aside player who featured in last year’s Asian Sevens series and the Hong Kong Sevens. Alexander replaces Peter McKee from the squad in Shanghai.

Dai Rees, National Coach of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, said, “We made a good start in Shanghai but we failed to complete the job in the final with some poor decision-making when we were up 17-5 in the closing minutes against Korea. The team knows we are capable of winning in Borneo but only if we are focused and work hard for the duration of the tournament and in every game. A win will give us the top spot on the HSBC Asian Sevens Series so there is everything to play for.”

After a credible performance at the Shanghai Sevens, where Malaysia reached the Plate final after dropping a narrow 10-17 loss to Asian rugby heavyweights Japan in the Cup quarterfinal, the hosts will be intent on moving up the final rankings. Last year Malaysia finished fifth overall on the Series to qualify for the Hong Kong Sevens for the first time since 2003. Malaysia currently lies in sixth place on the HSBC Asian Sevens Series table.

Running alongside the men’s competition, the Borneo Sevens will feature a combined Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) – Federation of Oceania Rugby Union (FORU) women’s sevens tournament and a Malaysian Schools Sevens tournament. The women’s tournament will begin on Friday, 23 September 2011.

The HSBC Asian Sevens Series will take a hiatus after Borneo for the duration of the Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand. HSBC Asian Sevens Series action will resume in November with the final two events of the Series in Goa, India and Bangkok, Thailand.

HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2011

27-28 August - Shanghai Sevens, Yuanshen Stadium, Shanghai, China
24-25 September - Borneo Sevens, Likas Stadium, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
12-23 November - Thailand Sevens, Bangkok
19-20 November - India Sevens, Goa

Borneo – Men’s teams: Brunei, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates.

ARFU-FORU Women’s Sevens teams: China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore (ARFU); Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga (FORU).

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