HKRFU Celebrates 40 Years of Sevens in Hong Kong

Belgium becomes 59th national representative team at event since 1976

23 January, 2015

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New Zealand 7s captain DJ Forbes leads his team in a celebratory Haka after the 2014 cup final v England

The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) today announced details of the format and participating teams at the 2015 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. 2015 marks the 40th year of the sevens in Hong Kong and the HKRFU is planning an expanded rugby and entertainment offering for the expected 120,000 visitors to the event from 27-29 March at the Hong Kong Stadium.

The world-famous tournament will see Hong Kong retain its status as the largest tournament on the HSBC Sevens World Series (HSBC SWS) with 16 international teams contesting the HSBC Sevens World Series core team competition and an additional 12 teams contesting the international HSBC Sevens World Series qualifier for a chance at promotion to the international series in 2016.

The 15 core teams on the HSBC SWS will once again be delighting the fans in Hong Kong as the world's finest exponents of world seven-aside rugby. New Zealand is the defending Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens champion after their 26-7 victory over England in last year's cup final.

Played underneath ominous clouds before the heavens opened on the champions' celebratory Haka, last year's win marked New Zealand's 11th cup title in Hong Kong, putting them behind only Fiji with 14 victories in the annals of Hong Kong champions.

Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, United States of America and Wales are the 15 core teams on this year's HSBC SWS.

The sixteenth team invited by World Rugby to round out the HSBC SWS core competition in Hong Kong will be Belgium. 2015 will be the first appearance for Belgium at the world-renowned Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. They become the 59th nation to have participated in Hong Kong since the tournament's inception in 1976.

Once again, a 12-team qualifying competition will accompany the core team action at the Hong Kong Stadium. The 12 teams, comprising two teams from each of World Rugby's six regions, will be battling for the sole spot available for promotion to the HSBC Sevens World Series in the 2015/2016 season. The winner of the qualifier will replace the bottom placed team on the HSBC Sevens World Series after the completion of the final event on this year's Series at Twickenham in May.

The twelve confirmed teams for the qualifier tournament are Russia and Spain from Europe, Papua New Guinea and Tonga from Oceania, Zimbabwe and Tunisia from Africa, Mexico and Guyana from the Americas and Uruguay and Brazil from South America.

Hosts Hong Kong, champions of the Asian Rugby Football Union's regional sevens series in 2014, will be joined by South Korea as Asia's representatives in the qualifier competition. 2013 Asian sevens champions Japan were victorious in last year's international qualifier and are participating in the core HSBC Sevens World Series this season.

The official tournament draw for all 28 participating teams will be held in Hong Kong on 16 February 2015.

Hosting the two distinct tournaments within the event has occasioned some modifications to the schedule timing to accommodate the 28 participating teams and the final of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Women's Sevens, which has been played on the Friday evening of the Hong Kong Sevens since 1998.

This year's opening day on Friday will see two rounds of the qualification pool matches played alongside the opening pool matches of the HSBC SWS core competition in Hong Kong (one match per core team). Gates will be opened earlier to accommodate the 71 matches that will be played over the weekend.

On Friday of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, the gates will open one hour earlier at 11.00 with the first kick-off at 13.00. The opening day competition will finish at 21.00.Saturday sees the world's best rugby sevens action taking place from 0700 (first kick off at 0900) until 1930 while Sunday's match action will kick off at 0930 (gates open at 0700) to allow additional time for a special celebration of 40 years of sevens rugby in Hong Kong.

The 28 teams participating in Hong Kong over the event weekend is nearly double that of other HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments (16 teams) in the current season.

When factoring in the 12 international women's teams taking part in the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Women's Sevens and dozens of club and representative teams contesting the plethora of social and youth tournaments staged around the city during what is widely known as 'Rugby Week', Hong Kong will be welcoming the rugby world once again to the city in 2015

In true Hong Kong Sevens fashion the anniversary year will be celebrated with an enhanced entertainment programme for the tournament.The main musical act for the 2015 tournament has previously been announced as international recording artists the Village People whose costumed capers and legendary songbook will surely add to the famed fancy dress frolics of the Hong Kong Sevens in 2015.

Participating Teams at the 2015 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens:

HSBC Sevens World Series Competition (teams ranked after the first three rounds in this year's Series):

1

South Africa

2

Fiji

3

New Zealand

4

Australia

5

Argentina

6

England

7

Samoa

8

Scotland

9

United States

10

Wales

11

France

12

Canada

13

Portugal

14

Kenya

15

Japan

16*

Belgium

* Invited by World Rugby to participate in the HSBC Sevens World Series core team competition


HSBC SWS Qualification Tournament (teams grouped by participating region):

Asia

Hong Kong

South Korea

Africa

Tunisia

Zimbabwe

America (North)

Guyana

Mexico

Americas (South)

Uruguay

Brazil

Europe

Russia

Spain

Oceania

Papua New Guinea

Tonga