Women’s invitation event in doubt
The Women's World Cup and Asia's financial turmoil may have scuppered this year's Hong Kong Women's Invitation Sevens tournament.
Organisers of the event are expected to announce today whether or not to continue with the popular tournament, which was held for the first time at the Aberdeen Stadium last year.
England and Scotland have already informed Hong Kong officials they will not be taking part, preferring instead to concentrate on their buildup to the women's 15-a-side World Cup.
Sixteen teams, up from last year's 12, had initially indicated they were willing to participate in the 1998 event, the organisers said.
Sue Gourlay, spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Women's Rugby Union, said a 'combination of factors' had put the tournament in doubt.
'Really there are a number of reasons why we have not been able to confirm it at this stage,' she said.
'We are having a meeting and we will announce our decision in a statement [on Thursday].
'The general problem is that in most countries women's rugby suffers from under-funding and most unions just do not have the budget to play in two overseas tournaments.
'The World Cup is in Holland later this year and most of the international sides are going to be playing in that,' Gourlay added.
Gourlay said the absence of home union teams from the men's Hong Kong Sevens could have influenced the decision of their female counterparts.
'We think it is a factor,' she said.
'Also, with the financial climate being as it is, it has been difficult getting a sponsor.
'That means we are unable to offer much support to some of the teams who need help with travel costs.' Last year's inaugural event, sponsored by Jardine Fleming Unit Trusts, was won by New Zealand.