Hong Kong’s sevens team to warm up at tournament in Zimbabwe
Harare will be final chance for squad to compete in tournament conditions before Hong Kong Sevens
Hong Kong will take part in an international sevens tournament in Zimbabwe as a warm-up to next month's crucial bid to qualify as a core team on the World Series at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
A 12-strong squad will fly to Harare for the March 14-15 tournament, where they will encounter top sides from South Africa and Europe, as well as hosts Zimbabwe Cheetahs.
Hong Kong rugby's performance chief Dai Rees said it would be ideal preparation for another tilt at becoming a core team on the HSBC Sevens World Series.
"We expect the competition to be of a high standard in Zimbabwe," said Rees, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's head of technical development and performance.
"We went down last year and were playing against teams like South Africa, Kenya and Georgia, which was the perfect build-up.
"We won the Plate competition after, we lost to Zimbabwe in our pool, and it served as a perfect wake-up call."
With the domestic club competition only finishing on March 8, there will be limited time for the players to switch into sevens mode.
The Harare International Sevens will be the only opportunity for captain Jamie Hood and his side to face tournament conditions before the Hong Kong Sevens takes place March 28-30.
"We will name the squad for the Hong Kong Sevens after the team return from Zimbabwe. In the meantime, we will also send a development squad to Perth to take part in a sevens tournament," Rees said.
This year's Hong Kong Sevens will include a qualifying tournament to unearth one team who will become a core team in the World Series next year - the 12-team second-tier competition will see each IRB region represented by two teams. Asia will be represented by Asian Sevens champions Japan and runners-up Hong Kong.
The draw for this event will take place on Tuesday (February 11). The draw for the main competition will take place on the Sunday of the Tokyo Sevens, one week before Hong Kong's showpiece.