England's leading professional rugby clubs have agreed to release players for next year's Hong Kong Sevens, according to former English sevens captain Damian Hopley. Hopley, in town as a guest speaker at a Hong Kong Rugby Football Union function yesterday, said the English Rugby Partnership (ERP) - the body comprising professional clubs - had agreed to make players available for selection for England. The ERP, which has been fighting a long-running battle with the Rugby Football Union over control of the game in England, took the decision at a recent meeting, Hopley said. 'The latest position is that the English Rugby Partnership has agreed to release players and it is my understanding that England will have a side at the Sevens next year,' said Hopley, 28, who represents players' interests on the ERP committee as chief executive of the newly formed Professional Rugby Players Association. England did not send a team to this year's Hong Kong Sevens, and so far officials at Twickenham have been reluctant to confirm whether they will take part in next year's tournament. The RFU has said it will review the performance of the English team who played in the Commonwealth Games last month before making a final decision. Wales and Scotland have already agreed to take part in next year's tournament. Hopley, a member of England's 1993 World Cup Sevens winning team who later captained England at the 1996 Hong Kong Sevens, was adamant that it was in the RFU's interests to send a side to the SAR. 'You only have to look at the backbone of the England team that won the World Cup in 1993. Players like Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson went on from there to be full England internationals - sevens is a proving ground for so many players and there are immense benefits from taking it seriously,' said Hopley. 'Aside from the playing part of the tournament, it is also a great way of giving young players the opportunity to play in an international tournament in front of a crowd of 40,000 spectators.' The fact that English rugby authorities had neglected seven-a-side rugby was 'extremely disappointing', he said. 'In terms of the Hong Kong tournament, I think it is a disgrace that England were not able to field a team here this year. It is insulting to Hong Kong,' he said. 'I can't believe that of all the players playing in England, we can't find 10 to send to the Hong Kong Sevens.'