Preview: Double dip in Hong Kong

Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:52
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Hong Kong remains the ultimate destination for Sevens players and enthusiasts alike - now being two tournaments in one.

Hong Kong remains the ultimate destination for Sevens players and enthusiasts alike, with the advent of double-dipping - two tournaments in one - making it an even more appealing stopover.

Round Seven of the IRB Sevens World Series will see South Africa and New Zealand - the current pace setters - glance nervously over their shoulders at the hard-chasing Fijians.

However, for the second year running Hong Kong welcomes 28 teams - with 16 to play for the famous old Cup trophy and points towards the World Series, and the other 12 bidding to win the separate qualifier trophy and take the one place on offer as a core team for the 2014/15 Series.

In the main Cup draw, with two tournament wins apiece in this season's IRB Sevens World Series, South Africa, New Zealand and Fiji are the front-runners for major Cup honours at So Kon Po.

Fiji have won 14 times in Hong Kong, including last year, and also took the most recent Cup title with a superb win over South Africa at the Tokyo Sevens last Sunday.

South Africa have never won the Hong Kong title, but are currently top of the Series standings with 116 points, two ahead of New Zealand - with Fiji in third place on 95 and England fourth on 85.

Having finished in the top two of Asia's own regional Sevens competition, host Hong Kong is one of those 12 vying nations and harbours serious ambition to join the Series.

"There's a long way to go but qualifying as a core team would accelerate the learning in Hong Kong by playing at that competitive level more often," said Hong Kong's Sevens coach Gareth Baber

"It would also accelerate the numbers coming into the game, and make them realise as well that there's a potential to be an international athlete playing Rugby Sevens for Hong Kong," Baber added.

Hong Kong start in pool play with matches against Italy, Tunisia and American Samoa. Russia are drawn with Zimbabwe, China and Barbados, while Asia's top-ranked side Japan starts in a group with Cook Islands, Uruguay and Trinidad & Tobago.

"We have to treat this like any other event. I know there's a lot of emotion wrapped around it, and there's a big party atmosphere, but the message going out loud and clear to the players is that we need consistency in what we do and not to get carried away with the emotion.

"You need to play with emotion as a rugby player, but it's tempering that with the ability to think clearly and do consistently what you do on the training paddock.

"I'm confident my players can make that step up (from failing to qualify as a core team last year), but there are a number of other teams who are going to be thinking exactly the same. We have a competition on our hands, and that's why everyone is interested in it."

Pool A: Fiji, Kenya, Wales, Sri Lanka
Pool B: South Africa, Australia, France, Spain
Pool C: England, Canada, Argentina, Portugal
Pool D: New Zealand, United States, Scotland, Samoa

(Kick-off is local time - GMT plus eight hours)

Day One - Friday, March 28
Match 1: United States v Samoa, 18.24
Match 2: Canada v Portugal, 18.46
Match 3: Australia v Spain, 19.08
Match 4: Kenya v Sri Lanka, 19.30
Match 5: New Zealand v Scotland, 20.20
Match 6: England v Argentina, 20.42
Match 7: South Africa v France, 21.04
Match 8: Fiji v Wales, 21.26
Match 9: New Zealand v Samoa, 11.12
Match 10: United States v Scotland, 11.34
Match 11: England v Portugal, 11.56
Match 12: Canada v Argentina, 12.18
Match 13: South Africa v Spain, 12.40
Match 14: Australia v France, 13.02
Match 15: Fiji v Sri Lanka, 13.24
Match 16: Kenya v Wales, 13.46
Match 17: Scotland v Samoa, 15.14
Match 18: Argentina v Portugal, 15.36
Match 19: France v Spain, 15.58
Match 20: Wales v Sri Lanka, 16.20
Match 21: New Zealand v United States, 18.10
Match 22: England v Canada, 18.32
Match 23: South Africa v Australia, 18.54
Match 24: Fiji v Kenya, 19.16

World Series core team qualifier
Pool E: Russia, Zimbabwe, Chile, Barbados
Pool F: Hong Kong, Italy, Tunisia, American Samoa
Pool G: Japan, Cook Islands, Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 16 October 2015
Blue Bulls v Western Province 17h10 Pretoria
Connacht v Zebre 18h30 Sportsground
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 18h35 Scotstoun
Scarlets v Leinster 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints 18h45 Sixways
Edinburgh v Ulster 18h45 BT Murrayfield
Harlequins v Wasps 18h45 Twickenham Stoop
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 17 October 2015
Munster v Cardiff Blues 12h30 Irish Independent Park
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 13h00 Recreation Ground
Saracens v Sale Sharks 13h00 Allianz Park
Treviso v Ospreys 13h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
South Africa v Wales 15h00 Twickenham
Golden Lions v Free State Cheetahs 15h05 Johannesburg
New Zealand v France 19h00 Millennium Stadium
Sun, 18 October 2015
Ireland v Argentina 12h00 Millennium Stadium
London Irish v Leicester Tigers 14h15 Madejski Stadium
Australia v Scotland 15h00 Twickenham
Sun, 11 October 2015
United States v Japan 18 | 28
France v Ireland 9 | 24
Italy v Romania 32 | 22
Argentina v Namibia 64 | 19
Sat, 10 October 2015
England v Uruguay 60 | 3
Australia v Wales 15 | 6
Golden Lions v Griquas 29 | 19
Samoa v Scotland 33 | 36
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 34 | 34
Fri, 09 October 2015
New Zealand v Tonga 47 | 9
Western Province v EP Kings 45 | 14
Pumas v Blue Bulls 24 | 25
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Team P W D L Pts
Argentina Sevens 9 0 0 0 92
Wales Sevens 9 0 0 0 91
France Sevens 9 0 0 0 73
Scotland Sevens 9 0 0 0 48
United States Sevens 9 0 0 0 41
Kenya Sevens 9 0 0 0 40
New Zealand Sevens 9 3 0 0 167
Fiji Sevens 9 3 0 0 161
England Sevens 9 1 0 0 135
Samoa Sevens 9 1 0 0 133
South Africa Sevens 9 0 0 0 125
Australia Sevens 9 0 0 0 112
Canada Sevens 9 0 0 0 33
Spain Sevens 9 0 0 0 19
Portugal Sevens 9 0 0 0 18