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The Official Draw for the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2013 was held on Thursday evening at Hysan Place in Hong Kong.

In late 2012, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and the International Rugby Board (IRB) unveiled an exciting format for the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens in 2013, with Hong Kong being awarded the hosting of a 12-team HSBC Sevens World Series (HSBC SWS) Pre-Qualifier tournament alongside a 16-team competition featuring the 15 core teams participating on the 2012/2013 HSBC SWS and the HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012 champions Hong Kong.

On the HSBC Sevens World Series front, this year’s Series is again a testament to the fast-rising parity in international sevens with five teams winning the five tournaments played to date. Fiji won the Series opener in Australia, Samoa won the Dubai Sevens, New Zealand won in South Africa, England won in Wellington and South Africa were crowned champions at the most recent HSBC SWS tournament in Las Vegas.

As the Series heads into Hong Kong, New Zealand top the table with 96 points, 23 more than second placed South Africa (76), Samoa and Fiji trail at 71 and 66 points respectively. France and Kenya are making a strong showing on the 2012/2013 HSBC SWS on 59 and 57 points respectively.

With the addition of the Pre-Qualifier, the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens remains the largest tournament on the HSBC SWS with 28 teams. The 2013 tournament marks the largest field ever hosted in the 38-year history of the Hong Kong Sevens and the first increase in the number of participating teams since the 24-team format was adopted in 1984.

The HSBC Sevens World Series Pre-Qualifier being played in Hong Kong will comprise 12 teams, including two regional champions from all six Rugby regions recognized by the IRB. In the Pre-Qualifier, the participating teams will be playing for the right to advance as one of the top four teams from that competition to the London Sevens at Twickenham in May 2013. Those four teams will be joined by Hong Kong, who earned an automatic exemption to the London Sevens as Asian champions.

In London, these five teams will pair off against the bottom three placed teams on the HSBC SWS standings in an eight-team final qualification tournament after the penultimate Series event in Scotland. The top three teams from the London Sevens qualifier will gain core team status on the HSBC Sevens World Series in 2013/2014.

The Draw

For the HSBC SWS competition draw the 15 core teams were grouped into four pools of four teams each (Pools A-D) with South Africa, New Zealand and Samoa seeded in the top spots in Pools A to C, reflecting their position as Cup winners, runners-up and third placed finishers at the Las Vegas Sevens.

The remaining 12 core teams and Hong Kong were grouped into four bands and drawn into the 2nd, 3rd and 4th bands of Pools A, B, C and D.

Following the draw for the HSBC SWS competition, Pool A comprises South Africa, Wales, Argentina and Australia. Pool B features Series leaders New Zealand and USA, France and Kenya. Pool C is headed by Samoa, followed by Scotland, England and Portugal. Canada was drawn as the top team in Pool D alongside Fiji, Spain and Hong Kong.

For the 12-team HSBC SWS Pre-Qualifier competition, all of the participating teams were drawn to complete Pools E, F and G. The teams were first grouped into 4 groups of 3 based on their performances at the HSBC SWS and other IRB Sevens events over the past two years.

Following the draw for the HSBC SWS Pre-Qualifier, Pool E features Tonga, South America 1, Tunisia and Chinese Taipei. Pool F comprises Japan, Georgia, South America 2 and Jamacia, while Pool G includes Russia, Zimbabwe, Cook Islands and Mexico.

All team groupings have been ratified by the IRB and HSBC SWS Core Teams and Pre-Qualifier Teams will not play against each other. All Core Teams participating in the Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield shall receive HSBC SWS ranking points for the tournament.

Day one (Friday, 22 March 2013) of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will see each team play a single Pool match. Day two (Saturday, 23 March 2013) will see the completion of the pool matches for both the HSBC SWS Core Team competition and the Pre-Qualifier. Day three (Sunday, 24 March 2013) will see the top two teams from each pool in the core team competition contest the Cup Quarter Finals, Semi Finals and Final, while the remaining 8 teams will contest the Bowl Quarter Finals. Losers of the Cup Quarter Finals will contest the Plate while losers of the Bowl Quarter Finals will contest the Shield.

Upon completion of all Pre-Qualifier Pool matches, the teams will be reseeded with the top 8 teams proceeding to the Pre-Qualifier Quarter Finals competition. All four Pre-Qualifier Semi Finalists will secure an invitation to HSBC Sevens World Series event to be held in London.

With 28 participating teams there is an increase to 70 games for the 2013 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will be played from 22 to 24 March 2013 at the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium.

Pictures and Other Coverage from Hong Kong Sevens 2013

As there are so many Pictures of the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2013 we have cut them up into different pages: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8, Page 9, Page 10, Page 11, Page 12, Page 13, Page 14, Page 15, Page 16, Page 17 and Page 18.

See past stories about the Hong Kong Sevens 2013: Pictures from Hong Kong Sevens 2013, Results from Hong Kong Sevens 2013, Sevens Legend Waisale Serevi Inducted into IRB Hall of Fame, Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2013 Ready for Kick Off!, What Impact Does Hong Kong Sevens Have on Long-Haul Travel?, South Stand Fashion - What to Wear at the Hong Kong Sevens, HKRFU Launches Rugby App; Chance to Win Tickets to HK Sevens, Hong Kong RFU to Launch a School of Rugby in Hong Kong, HKRFU Partners Serevi Rugby to Provide Special Training Camps, HKRFU Names Men's and Women's Sevens Squads, US Eagles Land in HK for Sevens; Jamaica Ready for Debut, Air Pacific Partners Ben Kende Foundation to Provide Medical Supplies to FORU, Rugby Sevens Teams from South Africa and France Arrive in Hong Kong, Official Draw for the 2013 Hong Kong Sevens, Beach Boys to Perform at Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong Sevens Officially Sold Out!, 2013 Hong Kong Sevens Public Ticket Sale to be via Public Ballot, Fans in Australia Can Purchase Tickets for 2013 Hong Kong Sevens, Biggest Hong Kong Sevens Ever! and Dates for the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2013.

See other recent news regarding: Interviews, Pictures, Videos, Hong Kong, Rugby, Sevens, Hong Kong Sevens

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