Exciting Asian race to RWC Sevens predicted

(IRB.COM) Thursday 16 August 2012  
 Exciting Asian race to RWC Sevens predicted
Japan are Asia's number one Sevens team after winning the Series in 2011

The Asian Rugby Football Union has confirmed the schedule for the HSBC Asian Sevens Series which will determine the seedings for the region’s qualifier for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013.

With three places available in the men’s draw at RWC Sevens in Moscow, competition in the Asian Sevens Series promised to be fierce in 2012, particularly with the number of core teams having jumped from four in 2011 to 10 this year.

China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand will play in all four tournaments in the Series, which kicks off in Borneo on 31 August when the men’s competition will run alongside the Asia-Pacific Women’s Sevens event.

The Series then moves on to China for the popular Shanghai Sevens at the Yuanshen Stadium on 22-23 September with India, who held a non-ranking tournament last year in Goa, hosting the third stop at the prestigious Bombay Gymkhana in Mumbai on 13-14 October.

The Mumbai Sevens has attracted 16 teams to date, including Afghanistan who will make their debut on the Series, a field that makes the Mumbai Sevens 2012 the largest HSBC Asian Sevens Series tournament to date.

Reaching new heights

Adding to the excitement and competitiveness, this year’s Series culminates with an inaugural event in Singapore on 2-4 November, one which doubles as the regional qualifier for RWC Sevens in Moscow.

The rankings from the Borneo, Shanghai and Mumbai events will determine the seeding for the Singapore Sevens, with the top three nations booking their places at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013.

“Since the onset of our partnership with HSBC to develop Asian rugby in 2008, ARFU is pleased to have seen strong growth in the interest in and playing of rugby in all forms, but especially Sevens. With the expansion of this year’s Series to three ranking events with new tournaments in Mumbai and Singapore this interest is set to reach new heights in 2012,” said ARFU President Adisek Hemyoo.

“The HSBC Asian Sevens Series provides a platform for the continued development of the game at all levels from elite men’s and women’s competition to the grassroots efforts backed by HSBC across the region since 2008.”

Japan were crowned Series champions in 2011 from Hong Kong and a trio of sides tied for third place – China, Philippines and Korea.

Competitive Series predicted

“Using the results of the three ranking events as the seedings for the Rugby World Cup Sevens Asian qualifiers in Singapore will ensure another highly competitive HSBC Asian Sevens Series,” said Jarrad Gallagher, IRB Regional General Manager for Asia.

“With the advent of Rugby Sevens as an Olympic sport at the next Games in Brazil, the future of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series looks bright indeed. This future would simply not have been possible without the strong support of HSBC or rugby across the region.”

Fourteen men's teams have already confirmed their places at RWC Sevens 2013 in defending champions Wales, 2009 runners-up Argentina, hosts Russia, South Africa, Kenya, England, Portugal, Spain, France, Georgia, Scotland, Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa.

Ten places remain, although four of these will be filled by the time the Asian Sevens Series kicks off with the NACRA (North America / Caribbean) and Oceania qualifying tournaments taking place in Canada and Australia respectively on 25-26 August.