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This year the Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens march past will have a little latin flair as the Hong Kong Sevens welcomes Mexico to the fiesta. Mexico is the first new competing team for the Hong Kong Sevens since Madagascar appeared in 2006.

Invited by the International Rugby Board to compete in Hong Kong, Mexico becomes the 49th country to compete at the Hong Kong Sevens in the 35 years since the inception of the event. Mexico is also the first team from Central America to participate in the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens, possibly the greatest Sevens party on earth. The Hong Kong leg will be Mexico Sevens’ only participation on the IRB World Sevens Series 2010/2011.

This year’s Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens also sees the return of Spain for the first time since 1998, while Malaysia returns for the first time since 2003.

The 12 core teams participating in the IRB Sevens World Series 2010/11 are: Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, USA and Wales. Seven other teams from outside the region will join the core teams: Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Tonga and Zimbabwe. Closer to home, the Hong Kong Sevens continues its traditional role supporting the development of Asian rugby hosting five teams from around the region: China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

“Mexico’s participation in the Hong Kong leg of this year’s Series gives them an opportunity to compete at an international level in preparation for the upcoming Rugby Sevens competition in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara later in the year,” said IRB Sevens Manager Beth Coalter. “With twenty-four teams in Hong Kong there is a wider range of team strengths to compete against and together with Hong Kong’s renowned atmosphere, the experience will go a long way to further assist Mexico’s preparations.”

Hong Kong’s unique role as the only World Series event to host 24 teams, (with correspondingly more series points on offer over the weekend), and as the home of the largest prize purse in international rugby, ensures another thrilling weekend of rugby action played before 40,000 spectators in a highly festive atmosphere.

On 22 January 2011 the final 5,000 tickets for the event were sold to members of the Hong Kong public in just over one hour – reaffirming the strong local and international demand that has made Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Sevens one of the world’s leading rugby destinations.

Last year’s World Sevens Series saw seven nations contest one or more of the tournament finals, producing four different event champions – setting a new standard for parity in the international game.

Accordingly, last year’s Hong Kong Sevens was one of the most fiercely contested in recent memory as all four of the previous Hong Kong champions (England, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa) reached the Cup semi-finals, where Samoa eventually ran out champions by a 3-point margin in the Cup final. The win helped propel Samoa to its first ever World Sevens Series title.

If the first two events on the 2010/11 IRB Sevens World Series are any indication, fans in Hong Kong are in for another thriller. England and New Zealand were the early cup champions in Dubai and South Africa respectively. Four-time Hong Kong champions England currently occupy the top spot on the World Sevens Series table on 44 points, followed by New Zealand on 40. Defending Hong Kong champions Samoa are in third with 36 points, followed by Fiji and South Africa rounding out the top 5.

The next two legs of the series will be held in Wellington, New Zealand and Las Vegas, USA over the coming two weeks. Following the USA Sevens, the Official Draw for the Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens will be held on 17 February 2011 in Hong Kong.

Organised by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, the 2011 Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens is expected to attract upwards of 120,000 spectators through the gates from Friday, 25 March to Sunday, 27 March at the iconic Hong Kong Stadium.

See also: HD Videos from 2010 Hong Kong Sevens and more from previous Hong Kong Sevens

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