Hong Kong Sevens

World sevens circuit wins support from Campese

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 March, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 March, 1998, 12:00am

Australian legend David Campese yesterday joined the growing chorus of supporters calling for an international sevens circuit.

Campese, who will make his 11th appearance in the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend, said sevens had the potential to become the 'one-day cricket' of rugby.

'I think it's a great idea . . . definitely there has got to be some mileage in it,' Campese said when asked for his views.

'If it's marketed properly sevens can be a very successful game internationally, particularly in a market like America. Americans like fast, explosive action and that is what sevens is all about.

'It's a game where the best players get the space and the freedom to show off their individual skills.' The concept of an international seven-a-side circuit was first mooted last year by organisers of the fledgling Air France Paris Sevens. Under proposals put forward by Paris officials, unions would accumulate rankings points with the overall winners named at the end of every season.

Hong Kong Rugby Football Union officials have so far adopted a cautious approach towards the initiative.

Campese was appointed captain of Australia's sevens squad earlier this year and will spearhead their challenge at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia in September.

The prospect of winning a medal in the Commonwealth Games was one of Campese's main reasons for continuing his international career.

'I've done just about everything there is to do playing for Australia. The idea of playing in a Commonwealth Games tournament and trying to win a medal is exciting . . . it's always an honour to represent your country and that's something you can never get tired of.' Unlike New Zealand however, Australia will be unable to rely on their elite players for the Games. Australia are forced to take part in qualification for the 1999 World Cup during the Games.

'I know the Kiwis have said they will make their best players available but that's not going to happen for us . . . we're playing in World Cup qualifiers and most of our focus is going to be on that,' he said.

Australia will be bidding to win their first Hong Kong Sevens crown this weekend since 1988, when a Bob Dwyer-coached side had squeezed a 13-12 victory over New Zealand in the Cup competition final. This year's Australian team will be bereft of current Test players, most of whom are ruled out through Super 12s commitments.

'We've got a young side and they are pretty inexperienced but there is a lot of talent there, I've no doubt about that,' Campese said.

Campese's appearance in Hong Kong this weekend is the latest in a series of swan songs he has enjoyed in recent seasons.

At the 1994 tournament the evergreen winger vowed he would not play in Hong Kong again.

Then last year he made what he insisted would be his final appearance in Hong Kong at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

But after being approached by the Australian Rugby Union in January, he decided to head the Wallabies' challenge one more time.

'You can't really turn it down,' said Campese.

'As for next year? Well, we'll just have to wait and see about that,' he said.