Duncan presses HK Sevens' case for Grand Prix finale
Hong Kong is determined to host the climax to the new World Sevens Grand Prix series. Nothing more - and certainly it won't be asking for anything less.
Peter Duncan, chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, yesterday lashed out at the International Rugby Board for not conceding to a request by the Hong Kong Sevens, which wants to host the 'Grand Final' when the Grand Prix series gets underway later this year.
Disappointed with the IRB's lukewarm response to a request made earlier in the week, the HKRFU chief came out and strongly pressed an offer by the Hong Kong Sevens, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.
'If we are the jewel in the crown, as the IRB says we are, then the Hong Kong Sevens has got to keep on sparkling. The only way for this is for us to host the last tournament in the Grand Prix series,' said Duncan, speaking in front of local and international media during the mid-afternoon break.
'We are very disappointed with the IRB, who have not consulted us in the formation of this new circuit. We are generally supportive of the concept, but as the Hong Kong Sevens is the most commercially viable sevens tournament in the world, and one which draws the largest crowds, it should be awarded the finale,' added Duncan.
IRB chief executive Stephen Baines, who was a guest of the HKRFU this weekend, revealed on Saturday that Hong Kong would be given some special allowances. But Baines said it was highly unlikely that Hong Kong would be the final stop.
'The Hong Kong Sevens is the jewel in the crown. It can have more ranking points and it could have more official prize money. But it cannot be the last stop as the proposed schedule does not allow that,' said Baines.
According to Baines, the calendar for the Grand Prix would run from around December to June. This is to make room for tournaments in the Northern Hemisphere, including England and Scotland, who have applied with 21 other unions to host the series.
'We are happy that world rugby officials have woken up to the fact that sevens is important,' said Duncan.
'But the goals of Hong Kong are not consistent with the IRB's plans.
'What we have suggested is for the series to start in September and to end with the Hong Kong Sevens. There are only two other tournaments of any consequence [Japan and Paris] after our event, and I'm sure something can be arranged where they move their dates. There is no way we can change ours.'