HSBC Sevens World Series
The HSBC Sevens World Series – formerly known as the IRB Sevens World Series – consists of nine tournaments held worldwide each year between October and May.
Hong Kong team’s ‘relegation to outside pitch disappointing’
Surprised and disappointed - that is how Hong Kong national coach Dai Rees reacted after learning they have been relegated to an outside pitch for most of the qualifying tournament.
Around 70,000 tickets have been sold for the opening day tomorrow, but Hong Kong will only get the chance to appear in front of the fans once after organisers split the core-team tournament and the qualifying event into two separate venues.
"It came as a big surprise to find out that on the opening day we will not be playing inside Twickenham, barring one match. It is disappointing we will have to play the rest outside," Rees said.
The 20-team London Sevens is made up of two separate events with the top 12 teams figuring in the world series while the other eight, including Hong Kong, will take part in the sideshow - the qualifying tournament to decide which three teams become core teams in the series next season.
"Hong Kong managed to put on a 24-team tournament inside one stadium. I can't imagine why the London Sevens, a smaller event in terms of teams, cannot do the same," Rees said.
"This is like using the So Kon Po pitch to stage some matches at the Hong Kong Sevens. It would be playing in front of no fans and without any atmosphere."
Hong Kong will play their second pool game, against Georgia, inside the 82,000-seater Twickenham stadium. Their opening game tomorrow against Zimbabwe and the final pool match against Scotland will be played outside on an auxiliary pitch. On Sunday, all matches will be inside the main stadium.
"I don't think our performance will be affected by playing on the auxillary pitch. But we would have preferred if all the games had been in front of the fans. The players would have loved that," Rees said.