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HSBC Asian Sevens Series Kicks Off with RWC Sevens Spots at Stake

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HSBC and the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) have unveiled the schedule for the HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012 (HSBC A7s).

With Asias three spots for mens teams at the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow at stake, the action promises to be fierce in 2012.

With so much at stake, the number of core teams, (those participating in every event of this years Series) has more than doubled from four teams in 2011 to 10 this year. The core teams on the HSBC A7s 2012 are China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

As in 2011, the HSBC A7s 2012 will feature four tournaments. Reflecting the strong interest in sevens rugby across Asia, the 2012 HSBC A7s sees a growth in ranking tournaments from two in 2011 to three this season with the addition of a ranking tournament in India.

The Series opens in September with the return of the well-established Borneo (31 August - 2 September) and Shanghai Sevens tournaments.

For a third consecutive year, Borneo will showcase premier international womens sevens alongside the mens competition with the innovative Asia Pacific Womens Sevens pitting premier womens sevens nations from the Pacific Islands against Asias top teams.

From Borneo, the HSBC A7s rolls into China for the popular Shanghai Sevens at the Yuanshen Stadium in Pudong, Shanghai (22-23 September). The long-running Shanghai and Borneo Sevens fixtures both retain their ranking status for 2012.

India, which held a non-ranking event last year in Goa, hosts the third event on this years Series and will enjoy ranking status in 2012. The event also moves to the financial capital Mumbai at the prestigious Bombay Gymkhana (13-14 October). The Mumbai Sevens has attracted 16 teams to date, including Afghanistan, which will mark its first appearance on the HSBC Asian Sevens Series. The field makes the Mumbai Sevens 2012 the largest HSBC Asian Sevens Series tournament to date.

Adding to the excitement and competitiveness of the HSBC A7s, this years Series culminates with an inaugural event in Singapore. The Singapore Sevens will also double as the International Rugby Boards Asian qualifier for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow next year. In another first, ARFU is proud to announce that the HSBC A7s Singapore Sevens will be played as part of the renowned Singapore Cricket Club Sevens, which marks its 65th year in 2012 (2-4 November).

The rankings from the Borneo, Shanghai and Mumbai events will determine the seeding for the Singapore Sevens and Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifier. The top three finalists from the HSBC A7s Singapore Sevens will qualify for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow.

 Since the onset of our partnership with HSBC to develop Asian rugby in 2008, ARFU is pleased to have seen strong growth in the interest in and playing of rugby in all forms, but especially sevens. With the expansion of this years Series to three ranking events with new tournaments in Mumbai and Singapore this interest is set to reach new heights in 2012, said ARFU President, Adisek Hemyoo. The HSBC Asian Sevens Series provides a platform for the continued development of the game at all levels from elite mens and womens competition to the grassroots efforts backed by HSBC across the region since 2008. We thank HSBC for their outstanding support to the growth of the game and look forward to another outstanding series in 2012.

Last years Series results saw Japan finish as Asias number one, followed by Hong Kong in second and a three-way tie for third between China, Philippines and Korea. Based on their results, Japan, Hong Kong, China and the Philippines gained entry to the world-famous Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

Each tournament will host a leg of the HSBC ARFU Coaching Tour, a compelling grassroots-rugby initiative co-sponsored by HSBC and ARFU. With a target to reach 12,000 youth in 2012, the HSBC ARFU Coaching Tour has already engaged over 5,000 youth across eight countries and territories since April, most of them with little or no experience of rugby.

Mr Jarrad Gallagher, Regional General Manager for Asia of the IRB, commented on the 2012 series saying, Using the results of the three ranking events as the seedings for the Rugby World Cup Sevens Asian qualifiers in Singapore will ensure another highly competitive HSBC Asian Sevens Series. Three spots are up for grabs for Asian teams in Moscow, which provides great incentive for all of the teams across the Series ... With the advent of Rugby Sevens as an Olympic sport at the next Games in Brazil, the future of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series looks bright indeed. This future would simply not have been possible without the strong support of HSBC or rugby across the region. 

See also: Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012 and All Blacks to Play in 2012 King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Hua Hin, Thailand

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