Credit Suisse closes its account with Hong Kong Sevens
The worst-kept secret in town was confirmed last night when Credit Suisse announced this is its last year as Hong Kong Sevens title sponsor.
Just minutes before Hong Kong were drawn with South Africa, Wales and Spain in pool E at next month's Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens, Dumith Fernando, chief operating officer for Credit Suisse (Asia-Pacific), confirmed the bank's links with the tournament will end on March 27 after the Cup final.
'Although this is the last year of our relationship, we are very proud of our partnership [since 1998],' said Fernando. 'We have thoroughly enjoyed our partnership.'
Fernando's words to the large crowd at yesterday's official draw, which included the chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, all but confirms that former title sponsor HSBC is waiting in the wings to return.
The Hong Kong Sevens is the fifth leg of the IRB Sevens Series sponsored by HSBC.
As Credit Suisse is title sponsor, the presence of their rival will hardly be seen at the sold-out Hong Kong Stadium this year as England and New Zealand strive to take the upper hand in the series.
Both teams are joint top in the standings on 80 points, with Fiji and Samoa - the defending Hong Kong Sevens champions - tied in third place on 64.
With this event offering the most points due to it being the only 24-team tournament in the eight-leg series, all the core teams will know the importance of winning the Cup Championship. Hong Kong will face Wales for the second year running.
The Mark Wright-led team defeated Wales 21-19 last year in the pool competition and the Welsh brigade will be looking for revenge.
'I suppose they will look at it as a grudge match,' said Hong Kong head coach Dai Rees, a Welshman himself.
'That was our big scalp last year and we will be looking to claim another this time too. They are still the world champions, although they haven't come on since winning the World Cup [in 2009]. We will look forward to this match.'
Rees was also happy that Spain were drawn in Hong Kong's pool.
'I was hoping we wouldn't meet another Asian side as we play against them regularly. This will be a new challenge and I'm happy we avoided coming up against China, South Korea or Malaysia.'
Top seeds in the pool South Africa will arrive on a high having won the last leg in Las Vegas. But they have some catching up to do. They are currently in fifth position.
Hong Kong Sevens draw, Pool A: New Zealand, France, Portugal, South Korea. Pool B: England, USA, Japan, China. Pool C: Samoa, Scotland, Tonga, Mexico. Pool D: Fiji, Kenya, Russia, Malaysia. Pool E: South Africa, Wales, Hong Kong, Spain. Pool F: Australia, Argentina, Canada, Zimbabwe.