SCOTLAND and Wales have turned down invitations to play at next year's Hong Kong Sevens. Both have cited domestic fixture congestion as reasons for their absence from the world's premier sevens tournament. Scotland were beaten by Hong Kong in the preliminary round this year and did not fare too well in the Plate competition. Wales' last appearance at the Hong Kong Sevens was in 1993. There have been fears that due to next year's 15-a-side Rugby World Cup in South Africa in May, most countries would concentrate on 15s and decline the Hong Kong Sevens invitation. But Welsh Rugby Union press officer Robert Cole said while the World Cup did play a part in his Union's decision to turn down the chance of coming to the Hong Kong Sevens, the main reason was severe local fixture congestion. ''Towards the end of March we will be faced with a heavy backlog of Cup and league games. This is due to the fact that Wales will have a number of international commitments next season,'' said Cole. Wales will host South Africa before Christmas when they will play three Tests, and then it will be the Five Nations Championships. ''The lifeblood of our game is club rugby. We can't afford to release our top players to go to Hong Kong when the Cup competition will be on,'' said Cole. He added: ''Unless Hong Kong changes its dates, this problem will surface all the time with the Northern Hemisphere teams. It is easier for the Southern Hemisphere countries to be represented nationally as their season will be just starting in March.'' It is understood that England will follow in the footsteps of Scotland and Wales. Ireland are likely to be the only Five Nations country to play at next year's Hong Kong Sevens as France also seems unlikely to send a side. Ireland have already confirmed their presence in the March 25-26 tournament.