Blitzbokke handed tough draw
Thu, 21 Feb 2013 16:27
The tournament marks the largest field ever
The Springbok Sevens were paired against Wales, Argentina and Australia on Thursday when the IRB confirmed the pool draw for Round Six of the IRB Sevens World Series, the Hong Kong Sevens, on March 22-24.
The draw took place at the Hysan Place in Hong Kong on Thursday and also included the core team pre-qualifier draw alongside the main 16-team competition which features the 15 core sides and Asian Sevens Series champions as well as hosts, Hong Kong.
USA Sevens champions South Africa meet reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions Wales, Argentina and Australia in a tough Pool A, while the hosts will play matches with Spain, Fiji and Canada in Pool D.
Current series leaders New Zealand were drawn alongside USA, France and Kenya in Pool B, while Samoa, Scotland, England and Portugal make up Pool C.
South Africa, still without a number of first-choice players because of injury, will resume training on Monday at their base in Stellenbosch.
Paul Treu, the Springbok Sevens coach, will name his 12-man squad for Hong Kong and Tokyo on March 14.
So far this season, five different teams have won the five tournaments. Fiji won the series opener in Australia, Samoa lifted the Dubai Sevens title, New Zealand won in South Africa, England won in Wellington and South Africa were crowned champions at the most recent tournament in Las Vegas.
As the series heads to Hong Kong, New Zealand top the table with 96 points, ahead of South Africa (76), Samoa (71) and Fiji (66).
With the addition of the core team pre-qualifier, the Hong Kong Sevens remains the largest tournament on the IRB Sevens World Series 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 IRB Sevens World Series pre-qualifier being played in Hong Kong will comprise 12 teams, including two regional champions from all six rugby regions recognised 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 series 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 IRB Sevens World Series in 2013/2014.
Core team pre-qualifier:
Pool E: Tonga, South America 1, Tunisia, Chinese Taipei
Pool F: Japan, Georgia, South America 2, Jamaica
Pool G: Russia, Zimbabwe, Cook Islands and Mexico
*The South American teams will be known after the Sevens Championship in Rio de Janeiro this weekend.
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