HONG KONG HANDED 2005 BERTH
Hong Kong will receive an automatic berth at the next Sevens Rugby World Cup to be played in 2005. The International Rugby Board has decided that as the host nation, Hong Kong should not have to qualify. 'We won't have to qualify for the 2005 World Cup Sevens. It was confirmed to us this past weekend by the IRB,' said John Molloy, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman. 'Hong Kong and defending champions New Zealand are automatic entries.'
There had been fears the SAR would have to qualify when, soon after announcing that Hong Kong had won the right to host the tournament in 2005, the IRB said there was no guarantee the host nation would get a free passage at the 24-team tournament.
With New Zealand and Hong Kong assured berths, all other 22 nations that will take part in the 2005 tournament will have to go through a qualification process, said IRB tournament director Fraser Neill. It will be the second time that Hong Kong will host the Sevens World Cup. It was also held here in 1997 when Fiji, led by Waisale Serevi, lifted the title. New Zealand won the crown in 2001, at Mar del Plata in Argentina. Due to the Sevens World Cup, the Hong Kong Sevens will not be held in 2005. The World Cup will be played in March that year at the Hong Kong Stadium.