The Hong Kong Sevens leg of this seasons IRB Sevens Series has a new twist with two 12 team competitions played in tandem at the Hong Kong Stadium over the weekend of the 23-25 March 2012.
The pools and schedule has been released and the main competition sees some tough match-ups with England having to face Samoa, Argentina and Kenya in pool ‘A’, all teams who have recently made life hard for them. New Zealand on the other hand only have South Africa who should trouble them as they meet Wales and the USA in pool ‘B’. Fiji should also feel confident about reaching the quarter-finals as they meet Australia, France and Scotland.
The qualifier competition which will provide three teams for the 2012/13 season has some new names we know little about. We do feel however that Tonga should take pool ‘D’ and also be one of the top three. Expect Canada to progress from pool ‘E’ and Portugal or Russia from pool ‘F’.
The new teams to the series are the Philippines and Guyana, whilst China, Japan and Hong Kong along with Zimbabwe have competed before.
It is worth mentioning that IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, said: “The Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens continues to grow around the world, attracting new countries to the Rugby family. Opening the entire World Series up to a further three nations from next season is an extremely positive step forward. Promotion and relegation from the core teams will operate on an annual basis moving forward to stimulate competition and ensure that there is equity in terms of being able to win core team status on merit. We thank the Hong Rugby Football Union for hosting this exciting qualifying event in 2012 and will consider the best possible fit for this annual event moving forward.”
We feel sure that the crowd, the usual 40,000 full house will have a feast of Sevens over the competition.