Champions Canada return, Kenya to make debut in Women’s Sevens
Eleven national teams from five continents will join hosts Hong Kong in the 17th annual Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Women’s Sevens next month.
Defending champions Canada will be joined by Brazil, China, France, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and South Africa, along with the hosts. Kenya will be making their debut in Kong Kong, becoming the 37th international team to take part in the women’s tournament, a pioneering event in international women’s rugby sevens.
China and Japan are the top-ranked teams in Asia, followed by Kazakhstan, Hong Kong and Singapore. The tournament will be held at the Hong Kong Football Club on Friday, March 28, with the final again taking centre stage at Hong Kong Stadium later that same evening.
“The Hong Kong rugby community is delighted to again play host to the top men’s and women’s sevens teams from around the world in March,” said Ruth Mitchell, tournament director for the Women’s Sevens and director of development at the HKRFU.
“The Women’s Sevens fills an important place on the international calendar, offering the teams some high calibre competition in the build-up to the fourth leg of the IRB Women’s Sevens Series in Guangzhou, while at the same time giving Asia’s top sides vital exposure to some of the world’s finest women’s sevens teams.
“Closer to home, the tournament involves girls from every level of our women’s rugby community, with girls rugby games and opportunities for young players to volunteer as team liaison officers, ball girls and runners. The tournament provides an incredible opportunity for younger players in Hong Kong to experience the excitement of sevens rugby and, hopefully, inspire them to develop their own game to the elite level,” Mitchell said.
Of the teams coming to Hong Kong, Canada and Ireland have been elevated to core-team status on the IRB Women’s Sevens Series on the strength of their strong performances at the Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow last June. All eight WRWC Sevens quarter-finalists were awarded core-team status for this year’s Series.
Canada, winners of the 2013 Hong Kong Women’s Sevens, are expected to mount a strong defence of their Hong Kong title, having reached the WRWC Sevens final, where they were beaten 12-29 by New Zealand.
Next month's hosts Hong Kong will enter the tournament with some momentum after kicking off the professional era with their inclusion in the Hong Kong Sports Institute’s elite athletes programme and by winning the top women’s competition at the Darwin Sevens in January.