Singapore will be the focus this weekend as three of the remaining four places available in the 24-team men’s event at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 will be filled after the finale of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012.
Twelve of the top teams in Asia will battle for those places at Moscow 2013 on Friday and Saturday at the Singapore Cricket Club as part of the 65th anniversary celebrations of the renowned Singapore Cricket Club Sevens.
Hong Kong arrive in Singapore as the newly crowned Asian Sevens Series champions after edging Japan by the smallest of margins after victory in Mumbai last month, but are not underestimating the challenge of their Pool A opponents the Philippines and Guam.
“From the outset of the Series our goal was to qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens,” admitted Hong Kong coach Dai Rees. “We have beaten Japan before, including here at the SCC Sevens in past club competitions, and have only lost to one other Asian Sevens team, Korea, since 2010.”
“But we want to be able to beat Japan consistently in the big games like the finals in Mumbai. We may get that opportunity this weekend, but I am wary of other teams that are likely to enter the competition strongly, including the Philippines, China and Korea.”
Japan are the second seeds in Singapore and will face Sri Lanka and Indonesia in Pool D but coach Tomohiro Segawa – who welcomes back Sevens veterans Katsuyuki Sakai and Kuwazuru Yasuku to the fold – has one clear aim for the tournament.
“We are of course here to qualify for Rugby World Cup Sevens but we want to do it in a Japanese style, as number one, and by beating Hong Kong in the final,” said Segawa.
Korea will face Thailand and hosts Singapore in Pool B, while China will be intent on revenge when they face Malaysia and Kazakhstan in Pool C, having lost to the former in Mumbai last month.
“With the teams hitting peak form and places at the World Cup up for grabs, there is everything to play for this weekend and some exciting competition awaits us all,” said Trevor Gregory, Vice President of the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU).
“It is a great pleasure for ARFU to share this excitement with the many spectators attending the iconic Singapore Cricket Club Sevens and we are delighted to help celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Singapore Cricket Club Sevens.”
Twenty of the places for the men’s event at RWC Sevens 2013 have already been filled. Nine teams qualified automatically, hosts Russia and the eight quarter-finalists from RWC Sevens 2009 in Dubai in champions Wales, runners up Argentina, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, South Africa, Kenya and England.
Eleven teams have negotiated the regional qualifying process so far in Portugal, Spain, France, Georgia and Scotland (Europe), Australia and Tonga (Oceania), Canada and USA (NACRA), and Zimbabwe and Tunisia (Africa). Once the three Asian qualifiers are known, the one remaining place will be filled by the nation crowned South American champions in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February 2013.
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The tournament website can be found at www.rwcsevens.com.