THE flair of the French and the tenacity of the Tongans will be the hurdles Hong Kong will have to surmount if they hope to enter the Cup competition at next month's Cathay Pacific/HongKongBank Invitation Sevens. At the end of last night's draw for the March 25-26 tournament, it seems Hong Kong's path into the Cup competition will be as hard as Governor Chris Patten trying to enter a Xinhua (New China News Agency) reception - uninvited. National coach George Simpkin had immediately pointed out that it will be the tough Tongans who will cause the most headaches. 'They are going to be very difficult to beat,' he said. 'At the moment, a lot of their players are based in New Zealand. That is how they qualified for the World Cup in South Africa. 'Even if most of their players are unavailable, I still think they will have sufficient depth to bring out a strong team.' Simpkin, however, was pleased that France were drawn into Pool C, which Hong Kong had occupied before the draw began by virtue of being one of the two seeded teams in the lower tier of eight 'Bowl' teams. 'I'm happy that we got France. They haven't performed all that well in the past years at the Hong Kong Sevens. And if they don't include any of their World Cup squad players, I think we have a good chance against them.' he added. The territory have played France before at the Sevens, losing 4-0 in 1991 - the lowest score ever in the 19-year history of the tournament. That score-line must give heart to the current 15-man Hong Kong squad who are in training. This squad will be cut down to the required 10 players in early March. While Hong Kong will ponder long and carefully about the Tongans, debutants England will have to worry about both their Pool C opponents - Canada and Papua New Guinea. Both the Canadians and the Papuans are veterans of sevens rugby and are unlikely to be fazed the least by the reputation of the English, who come here as World Sevens champions. And, as expected, their elite players are concentrating on the World Cup, and domestic competition is barring a number of their top sevens players from coming. England could struggle. The uncertainty of the playing strengths of the teams who will play next month in the 20th anniversary of the Sevens at the Hong Kong Stadium, however, does not pose any major worries for the event's organisers. 'I doubt teams will be severely weakened,' said Stuart Leckie, chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union. 'Every year the leading countries have problems in team selection, injuries and pull-outs of key players . . . but they are still very competitive.' Leckie admitted that the 'big' names will be missing. 'But one must remember that last year no one had heard of a player called [Australian] George Gregan. Today he is a household name in rugby and he played here.' DRAW Pool A: New Zealand, USA, Kwang-Hua Taipei. Pool B: South Africa, Argentina, Sri Lanka. Pool C: France, Tonga, Hong Kong. Pool D: Western Samoa, South Korea, Singapore. Pool E: Fiji, Japan, Thailand. Pool F: Ireland, Namibia, Portugal. Pool G: England, Canada, Papua New Guinea. Pool H: Australia, Ivory Coast, Malaysia.