The triumphant Hong Kong sevens squad savoured double joy as they returned home yesterday from Kandy, Sri Lanka. Not only was it the first time that they had won the Sri Lankan Sevens, but more importantly the victory has pushed them to the top of the Asian rankings. 'We are the number one team in Asia. The Sri Lankan Sevens is an IRB satellite event - the only one in Asia - and by winning it we are the top-ranked sevens team in the region,' revealed a delighted Ivan Torpey, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's head of performance. The significance of being number one in Asia will be felt fully only next year when the International Rugby Board holds the Asian qualifiers for the 2009 Sevens Rugby World Cup in Dubai. Hong Kong now could avoid South Korea, who they beat 37-5 in the Cup final in Kandy, and Japan in the preliminary rounds. 'As yet, we haven't looked at how the teams will be seeded for the qualifying tournament for the Sevens World Cup next year. But these rankings will obviously have a bearing,' said Jarrad Gallagher, the IRB's Asian development manager. There will be three qualifying berths for Asia at the 24-team Sevens World Cup in 2009. Hosts Arabian Gulf will get an automatic entry. 'Of course, we will take into account the fact that Japan did not play in Sri Lanka. Another factor could be how these teams finish at next year's Hong Kong Sevens. But definitely Hong Kong's status as number one will contribute towards the seedings for the Asian zone qualifying tournament,' Gallagher said. Japan pulled out of the Sri Lankan Sevens last weekend due to worries over security. Hong Kong, who at one stage were also on the verge of withdrawing, emerged unbeaten with pool wins over Malaysia (33-0), India (59-0), Taiwan (24-7) and China (15-12). In the Cup semi-finals they knocked out Sri Lanka (21-14) before blowing Korea out of the water in the final with Keith Robertson and Rowan Varty each scoring a hat-trick. Dynamic playmaker Robertson, the top try scorer for Hong Kong, also won the player-of-the-tournament award. 'We were very clinical and very passionate. It was a fantastic result,' said Hong Kong sevens coach Rodney McIntosh. There won't be any rest for six members of the sevens squad - Varty, Nick Hurrell, Justin Gregory, Colin Bisley, Fan Shun-kei and Anthony Haynes - as they will be part of a 30-strong XVs training squad, which will leave on Thursday for a weekend in Kota Kinabalu. The others from Kandy - captain Andrew Chambers, Robertson, Ashley Wayburne and Kenzo Pannell - are unavailable. 'The plan is to spend some time together and bonding before the season begins. We will be playing one game against Sabah on Saturday, but the main aim is to give the guys a head's up on what our aim and goals will be this season,' said Hong Kong XVs coach John Walters. The main focus for Hong Kong this season will be the inaugural Asian Five Nations Championship, where they will take on Korea, Japan, Arabian Gulf and Kazakhstan.