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Tue, 13 March 2018

Official Draw for Hong Kong Sevens 2018

The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) held the official draw for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2018 and the World Rugby Womens Sevens Series Qualifier 2018 at Hysan Place in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong on Monday.

Three separate draws were held, including that for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2018 Round Seven of the ten-event HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2017-18. That tournament will feature the 15 Series teams plus South Korea, World Rugbys nominated 16th team.

The draw for the 12-team World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier, which includes the Hong Kong mens national team and is played alongside the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament, was also held, as well as that for the 12-team World Rugby Womens Sevens Series Qualifier 2018.

Action from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. Picture by Steven Howard. Click to enlarge.

The three tournaments see a total of 40 international sides seeking sevens glory in front of an expected 120,000-strong cumulative crowd over the three-day festival that is the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, held 6-8 April 2018 marks the 43rd year of Sevens rugby in Hong Kong.

With players from 40 nations and officials, volunteers and fans from Hong Kong and around the globe, the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is the largest tournament on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, confirming the events tagline as the event where the World Comes to Play.

Participating guests officiating Mondays draws included Mr Yeung Tak Keung, Sports Commissioner for the Hong Kong Government and Mr Paul Cheung, Mr Paul Cheng, Principle Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (Recreation and Sport); Mr David Morton, Head of Corporate, Financials and Multinationals Banking, Asia-Pacific of co-title sponsor HSBC; and Mr Simon Large, Director Customer of Cathay Pacific Airways, co-title sponsors of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens; and Ms Irene Lee, Chairman of Hysan Development. Mr Pieter Schats, Chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, also officiated tonights proceedings.

Heading into one of the largest and most raucous events on the entire series, the action to date has been compelling.

Five different teams have won the seven events held so far.

South Africa captured the opening title in Dubai and have reached the final in Sydney and Hamilton to claim first place on the table with 109 points, 8 ahead of reigning Series and Hong Kong champions Fiji, who have won two of the last three events.

Olympic champions Fiji, now under former Hong Kong sevens coach Gareth Baber, are heating up ahead of their bid to become the first team to win four consecutive Hong Kong Sevens cups in the 43 year history of the event, although the increasing parity in the global sevens game and a tough draw tonight makes that a difficult ask.

Action from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. Picture by Steven Howard. Click to enlarge.

New Zealand, 11-time champions in Hong Kong, are in third place on the series with 92 points, ahead of Australia, who won their home event in Sydney, in fourth place on 84 points ahead of Argentina in fifth (77 points) and the United States, who won their home sevens event in Las Vegas earlier this month, on 73 points .to round out the top six spots.

With the addition of the Qualifier, the Hong Kong Sevens remains the largest mens tournament on the series, with 28 mens teams playing across three days.

This years Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens tournament will feature 77 matches (7 from the final day of the womens qualifier and 70 in the mens competitions) after the Hong Kong Rugby Union confirmed that for the first time ever, all of the final-day matches of the Womens qualifier will be played inside the Hong Kong Stadium on Friday, 6 April.

Poland will become the 42nd national representative team to appear in the womens tournament over its 21-year history.

Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2018 Draw Results

In the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2018, Vancouver champions Fiji top Pool A, alongside New Zealand, Russia and Samoa. Kenya, runners-up in Vancouver, are the top seeds in Pool B, joined by Australia, Spain and Canada. South Africa head up Pool C with England, Scotland and South Korea. Finally, USA are in Pool D with Argentina, Wales and France.

World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier Draw Results

The winner of the 12-team World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier, featuring teams from each of World Rugbys six regions, will earn promotion to next years Series, replacing the bottom-ranked team after the completion of the 2017-18 season.

Russia were promoted from last years Qualifier tournament in Hong Kong after beating Japan in the final.

This years Qualifier teams are Zimbabwe and Uganda (Africa), Jamaica (Americas North), Chile and Uruguay (Americas South), Hong Kong and Japan (Asia), Georgia, Germany and Ireland (Europe), and Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands (Oceania).

Picture from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. Picture by Steven Howard. Click to enlarge.

For the 12-team mens Qualifier draw, the teams were banded into four groups of three teams each by World Rugby, based on their performances on the Series and at other international sevens events over the preceding two years.

The banded teams were then drawn to complete Pools E, F and G of the tournament. The Series teams and those in the Qualifier will not play against each other.

Pool E features Japan, Uganda, Chile and Georgia. Pool F comprises Papua New Guinea, Germany, home team Hong Kong and Zimbabwe, while lining up in Pool G are Ireland, Uruguay, Jamaica and the Cook Islands.

Following tonights draw, Hong Kong and former Wales Sevens coach and player Paul John said, its a tough group. We went to Germany pre-season and we remember what happened when we met them in the quarter finals here last year, so we have a lot of respect for them. Papua New Guinea have a lot of experience, and Zimbabwe have been on the World Series before.

More broadly, he noted that, the quality of the teams is getting higher and higher every year, and its up to us to raise our game and keep up.

Hong Kong captain Ben Rimene believes the team are ready for the challenge.

We were lucky enough to go to Fiji, where we met some tough New Zealand sides, which was good preparation. The squad is getting bigger and younger though some of us are getting older and thats a really good thing for Hong Kong rugby, he said at the event.

Womens Draw

Twelve teams, including the Hong Kong national womens sevens team, will contest the World Rugby Womens Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong.

The participating teams were banded into three groups of four and drawn to complete the three pools (A, B and C).

South Africa top Pool A alongside Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Mexico. Brazil lead Pool B with Asian neighbours China, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong, while Wales are joined in Pool C by Belgium, Argentina and Poland.

David Morton, Head of Corporates, Financials and Multinationals Banking, Asia-Pacific of HSBC said, Our partnership with World Rugby and the Hong Kong Rugby Union is helping Rugby Sevens thrive in this region and we are proud to be a part of it. Hong Kong is where it all began for Rugby Sevens and as the sport has grown to new markets, new audiences, and new prominence, Hong Kong remains its spiritual home. As we make the draw for the tournament, it is testament to the growth of Rugby Sevens that there are more and more nations emerging as contenders for the trophy. Sevens is making the leap to becoming a truly global game and we are excited to see what the future holds for this unique and extraordinary sport.

Mr Simon Large, Director of Customer for Cathay Pacific Airways said, Cathay Pacific has been a part of this event since its inception and it is something of which we are proud to have played a role. We fly in supporters from all over the globe into Hong Kong and our flights are always a bit more colourful in sevens week.

Hong Kong CABLE TV, Official Host Broadcaster and Official Partner of the 2018 Cathay Pacific/ HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, will provide the live TV coverage from Hong Kong Stadium during the tournament, including all matches and key actions on and off the field. The games will be available on i-CABLEs designated website and the i-CABLE mobile app, providing the most comprehensive multiple-platform broadcasting service.

Running up to the Hong Kong Sevens, a four-episode lead-in show Hong Kong Sevens Special will go on air at 10:30pm every Thursday on Channel hd202 (Channel No. 202) and CABLE Sports Channel (Channel No. 62), starting from 15 March to 5 April, 2018.

The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will be played from 6-8 April 2018 at the sold-out 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium.

Rugby pictures: Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015, Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong Kong, Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015, Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013, Pictures of Chartis Cup 2012 and Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.

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