The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and the International Rugby Board (IRB) today unveiled another exciting new format for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in 2013.
After the outstanding success of the qualification tournament for HSBC Sevens World Series’ (HSBC SWS) core team status held last year in Hong Kong, the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens has again been trusted by the IRB with playing a formative role in determining future core teams on the World Series.
Reinforcing its customary role as the largest and most international of HSBC SWS events, Hong Kong will host a 28-team tournament in 2013 for the first time in the event’s 38-year history.
Two distinct competitions
The 28 teams in Hong Kong will again be separated into two distinct competitions next March, with a 16 team HSBC Sevens World Series competition played alongside a 12-team pre-qualification tournament.
In the HSBC SWS core team competition in Hong Kong, the 15 current core teams (expanded from 12 last year to include Spain, Portugal and Canada) will take part alongside a 16th team from Asia.
The International Rugby Board has confirmed that this 16th team from Asia will be the overall champions of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012 (HSBC A7s).
Japan currently leads Hong Kong by one point on the HSBC A7s table. The HSBC A7s will conclude at the fourth event Singapore Sevens (Nov. 2-3), which is also serving as the Asian qualifier for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow. The winner of the HSBC A7s 2012, however, will be decided following the third ranking event in this year’s Series in Mumbai (Oct 13-14) and will gain automatic entry to the London Sevens’ pre-qualification event.
The five teams advancing from the pre-qualification tournament in Hong Kong will join the three bottom-ranked core teams after round 8 of the Series in Glasgow at the London Sevens qualifier in an eight-team competition to run alongside the final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Twickenham.
The top three teams emerging from that eight-team competition will be promoted to HSBC SWS core team status with the right to participate in every event on the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series.
The 12 teams in the Hong Kong Sevens 2013 pre-qualification tournament will comprise of two teams qualifying from each of six IRB regional sevens tournaments. The top four teams advancing from the pre-qualification tournament in Hong Kong along with the Asian side qualifying for the core-team competition in Hong Kong will gain automatic entry to the final qualifier at the London Sevens in May 2013.
The new system provides every nation competing in their regional qualifying tournaments with a direct opportunity to gain core team status and compete in every round of the World Series.
The Road to Rio
The new structure put in place for Hong Kong in 2013 will also help in providing a clear and transparent process for teams aiming at Olympic qualification. Rugby Sevens will make its debut as an Olympic sport at the next summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016.
The introduction of the exciting new format is in line with the comprehensive IRB Sevens Plan that was developed in partnership with the IRB’s Member Unions and approved by the IRB Council last November. It reflects the IRB’s mission to deliver a pathway that ensures all Member Unions have a transparent and merit-based opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2016.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “As we enter our first four-year Olympic cycle for Rugby Sevens and build towards Rio 2016 it is important that the opportunity exists for all nations to progress to Series core team status if they are good enough. We are confident that this new system provides every nation competing in their regional qualifying tournament with a direct chance to gain core team status and compete on every round of the World Series.”
The participating teams for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2013 will be announced in due course. The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will be played from March 22-24, 2013 at the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium.