28 captains attend launch of 40th Hong Kong
– World Series qualifier to run alongside main event
– Record broadcast announced for Asia’s rugby showpiece
The captains of all 28 teams set to compete in the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens have officially launched the event, which marks its 40th anniversary this weekend at the famous Hong Kong Stadium.
16 nations will compete in the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series and 12 regional qualifiers – two from each World Rugby region – will compete for one place as an ever-present team on next year’s 2015/16 series. The winner of the qualifier will replace the bottom-ranked of the 15 current core teams at the end of the current series.
“Over the next three days we will see incredible action as the world’s top men’s teams look to win one of the most coveted trophies in Sevens and secure valuable points in the Olympic qualification race,” said World Rugby CEO, Brett Gosper.
“I am sure that the event will be as spectacular off the field as it is on it and I would like to go congratulate Hong Kong and the HKRFU on 40 glorious years and look ahead to the future with great excitement, a future where Hong Kong will continue to play its part in rugby’s incredible growth story.”
The series standings take on added importance this season with the top four-ranked sides to qualify directly for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Reigning series and defending Hong Kong champions New Zealand lie second in the overall standings after five rounds, five points behind South Africa, who have themselves never tasted victory in Hong Kong, and ahead of Fiji and Australia.
The Hong Kong event is set to break its own previous broadcast record this weekend. With new live takers from France and Japan and even Lithuania, as well as the return of Fox Asia to the broadcasters group, the event will break the previous live and delayed record with a staggering 347 hours being shown live and delayed around the globe.
While the Series is again being streamed live online at worldrugby.org (certain geo-blocking applies), fans can also watch highlights on World Rugby’s YouTube channel, or on worldrugby.org.