Incentives for minnows
By NAZVI CAREEM
THE minnows will be fighting back like never before.
Such is the quality of this year's Sevens that many sides who consider themselves too good for the Bowl competition may find that they have little choice in the matter.
Great expectations of upsets surround Pool C, containing Ireland, Hongkong and Italy, and Pool H, where New Zealand head the group, with Korea and Kwang Hua-Taipei likely to fight it out for a place in the Plate event.
Italy, who gained automatic entry into next month's World Cup Sevens, have been rated below a Hongkong side who were forced to qualify for the Scotland event.
Ireland are favourites to win the group, but nobody will be surprised if they are beaten by either team.
The team that is relegated to the Bowl after the first day's play will look at this year's Sevens as a bitter disappointment.
Korea's sevens fortunes in the last two years took an amazing leap forward. From being the lowest-tier Bowl winners in 1991, they proved to be the surprise team of last year's event, reaching the semi-finals of the Cup competition, beating the Barbarians on the way.
Taipei, however, are a fast-emerging force in Asian sevens, drawing with Hongkong in last year's Sicily Sevens. And they could be the team to knock the wind out of Korea.
Sri Lanka, the Bowl's first winners in 1983, have lost faith in their Fijian imports and will this year field a representative side.
In 1991 and 1992 they were represented by the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union Seven and included expatriate Fijians in their side. But they failed to win a match in those two years and have reverted to a national side. Sri Lanka take on South Africa and Argentina in Pool G.
Thailand will field a famous rugby name in their team which play Western Samoa and Japan in Pool E.
Marcus Carling, former Hongkong international and elder brother of England captain Will, will play for Thailand along with another expatriate, Jordan Jansen.
Carling left the Hongkong-based Royal Regiment of Wales last year and took up a job in a property company in Bangkok.
Other teams expected to play in the Bowl are Malaysia, Singapore and holders Romania.