Mexico to make debut at Sevens
Sombreros and tortilla chips will be all the rage at this year's Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens after organisers revealed that Mexico will make their debut at the March 25-27 tournament.
With the International Rugby Board keen to fast-track Mexico - the country will be hosting the Pan-American Games in October with rugby sevens being a medal sport for the first time - it asked local organisers to accommodate the new full member of the world governing body.
'Mexico's participation in the Hong Kong leg of this year's IRB Sevens Series gives them an opportunity to compete at an international level in preparation for the upcoming rugby sevens competition at the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara later this year,' IRB Sevens manager Beth Coalter said.
'With 24 teams in Hong Kong, there is a wider range of team strengths to compete against and together with Hong Kong's renowned atmosphere, the experience will go a long way to further assist Mexico's preparations.'
Mexico will be the first team from Central America to participate at the Hong Kong Sevens and are the first new side to appear since Madagascar in 2006. They will be the 49th country to compete at the world-famous tournament.
But their presence comes at a cost, with the organisers making room by culling one place usually given to an Asian nation. Only five Asian sides will take part this year - Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia and hosts Hong Kong. Last year there were six.
The rest of the 24-team lineup includes the 12 core HSBC Sevens Series teams - Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, the United States and Wales - plus seven teams from outside the region: Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Tonga and Zimbabwe.
This year's tournament will see Spain returning for the first time since 1998, and Malaysia back after a seven-year break.
England occupy top spot in the series standings, with 44 points after the first two legs in Dubai and George, and New Zealand next on 40. Defending Hong Kong Sevens champions Samoa are third with 36. The next two legs of the series will be held in Wellington and Las Vegas.
HK tickets sold out last Saturday.