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Pools for IRB Womens Sevens Challenge Cup Hong Kong

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Eleven of the premier teams in the international womens sevens game will be heading to Hong Kong for the second IRB Challenge Cup after the successful debut in Dubai, including two new teams making their debut appearances in Hong Kong, Spain and Brazil.

2012 marks the 15th year of international womens sevens rugby competition in Hong Kong.

All seedings for the IRB Challenge Cup Hong Kong were confirmed by the IRB and the tournament draw was conducted by the IRB in Dublin. The teams were seeded from 1 12 based on their performance in the IRB Challenge Cup debut tournament in Dubai or, for teams not participating in Dubai, on the strength of their most recent performances.

 The seedings are as follows: Canada, England, Australia, USA, Spain, Netherlands, China, Brazil, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong and Tunisia. Following the seeding the tournament was drawn with three teams in each of four pools.

Pool A sees Canada, the current IRB Challenge Cup holders and reigning Hong Kong Womens Rugby Sevens champions, drawn as the top seeds alongside Brazil, host of the 2016 Summer Olympics where rugby sevens will make its Olympic debut, and Russia, host of the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens, which will also feature a womens competition.

Pool B sees England, the reigning European womens sevens champions, drawn with Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 Bowl champions China. China is currently the top-ranked team in Asian womens sevens after winning the Asian Rugby Football Unions (ARFU) Asian Womens Sevens championships in Pune, India in October 2011. Japan, the third-ranked team in Asian womens sevens, are the third seeds in Pool B.

Pool C is topped by Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 winners Australia, followed by The Netherlands and the hosts Hong Kong, the fifth ranked team in Asian womens sevens.

Pool D features another womens rugby powerhouse in the United States alongside Spain, winners of the Plate Final in Dubai, and Tunisia.

China and Kazakhstan, ranked number one and two in Asian Womens Sevens, have also earned invites to the concluding IRB Challenge Cup event in London, England in May 2012.

Ms Ruth Mitchell, Tournament Director of the IRB Challenge Cup Hong Kong and the winner of the IRB and ARFU Womens Personality of the Year awards in 2011, commented on the draw saying, The tournament draw has thrown the competition wide open with some exciting matches in store. It will be interesting to see how some of the top Asian teams in womens sevens perform against what is one of the most competitive fields we have assembled in the 15-year history of the Hong Kong Womens Rugby Sevens.

The Cup Final of the HKWRS has been played in the Hong Kong Stadium as part of the mens Hong Kong Sevens since 1999, but given the expanded profile of this years womens tournament, the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012 will host four IRB Challenge Cup matches in front of the 40,000 strong crowd at the Hong Kong Stadium.

The Plate Final will be played at 18:12 on Friday, (23 March 2012 ), while the Cup Semi Finals will be played consecutively starting at 11:42 on Saturday, (24 March 2012) with the Cup Final held at 16:50 on Saturday at the Hong Kong Stadium.

The IRB Challenge Cup Hong Kong will be played from 08:30 to 17:00 on Friday, March 23, 2012, at the Hong Kong Football Club. Admission is free via the Jockey Club Museum Tunnel Entrance.

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