Emrick hopes to swing IRB backing for women's sevens
Hong Kong's ambitious women's rugby fraternity are ready to take their sevens tournament to another level and will soon ask the International Rugby Board (IRB) to officially sanction their invitation event.
'Our aim is to host the first ever Women's Sevens World Cup in 2005. We are ready to take the step to the next level and will ask the IRB for recognition,' said Erin Emrick, chairperson of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's women's section.
Started in 1997, the Hong Kong Women's Sevens has grown in popularity and this year's tournament on March 27-28, will be contested by 14 teams. Once again the tournament will incorporate the Asian Women's Rugby Sevens with 10 teams coming from the region. The other four teams are defending champions New Zealand, England, the United States and Fiji.
'At the moment our tournament is not a sanctioned event. It is an invitation tournament only. But after this year's tournament we will write to the IRB with the idea of hosting a major sevens tournament,' said Emrick, who has dreams of seeing this event follow in the footsteps of the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens.
'We hope the IRB will support our dream of hosting the first sevens World Cup for women. At the moment the only big international tournament for women is the 15-a-side World Cup. There are no other major sevens tournaments and we hope Hong Kong can set the ball rolling and repeat what has been done on the men's side,' said Emrick.
Asia's IRB representative Jamie Scott said women's rugby was one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and that it was just a matter of time before a Women's Sevens World Cup became a reality.
'It is only a question of time, tied in as it is to the IRB's drive to have rugby in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Olympic sports have to be available for women as well as for men,' said Scott, secretary-general of the Asian rugby Football Union.
A record 10 Asian teams are competing this year in the Asian Championships. Last year's champions Kazakhstan will head Pool A, which also includes Japan, Singapore, Kyrgyzstan and Thailand. Hosts Hong Kong, runners-up last year in the Asian Championships, head Pool B that also includes China, Arabian Gulf and newcomers Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. 'We will be aiming to win the Asian Championship this year,' said Tash McCarroll, playing for the second year. 'The nucleus of last year's squad remains and there are a couple of new faces. We will be giving it our best shot.'
The Hong Kong women's sevens squad, captained by Toni Phillips, will take part in a tournament in Sri Lanka from March 6-10.