IRB acknowledges HK Sevens' special status
RECOGNISING that the Hong Kong Sevens is the 'jewel in the crown', the International Rugby Board (IRB) will make special allowances so that the tournament's prestige is not lost when the World Sevens Grand Prix series kicks off later this year.
But high-ranking IRB official Stephen Baines discounted the possibility of the Hong Kong Sevens being the last stop in an eight- or 10-tournament circuit.
'The Hong Kong Sevens is the jewel in the crown. And in light of that we will make some sort of a special allowance to Hong Kong in the circuit. But it is highly unlikely that it can be the final stop,' said Baines.
A preliminary IRB-funded study into the workings of a circuit suggested the preferred dates would be from December to June.
An official announcement will be made by the IRB when its council meets in April in Argentina.
His words will be a dampener on the hopes of the Hong Kong Sevens wanting to host the 'Grand Final' of the proposed Grand Prix series.
'The Hong Kong Sevens could have more ranking points. We will be using a weighted system and winning in Hong Kong could benefit teams more. We could also have official prize money,' said Baines, ticking off some ways in which the local tournament could keep its stature within a Grand Prix circuit.
Hong Kong cannot be the last stop in the series because it does not fit in with the present calendar of sevens tournaments and the impending inclusion of Northern Hemisphere legs in the new circuit.