This year’s Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens tournament will be a qualifying tournament for the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, the Hong Kong Rugby Union confirmed. Twelve teams will take part in the tournament at So Kon Po, across from Hong Kong Stadium on Thursday and Friday, April 6-7, with the semi-finals and final to be played in front of 40,000 at the main stadium. The winner will replace the bottom team on this year’s World Series for next season. The 12 teams are South Africa and Kenya (Africa), Jamaica (Americas North), Argentina and Colombia (Americas South), Japan, China and hosts Hong Kong (Asia), Belgium, Italy and The Netherlands (Europe) and Papua New Guinea (Oceania). Kenya, Colombia and Japan took part in the Olympic Sevens tournament in Rio last summer, while Belgium, Colombia, Italy and Jamaica will be playing in Hong Kong for the first time, bringing the number of nations to have competed in the tournament to 41 in its 20th edition. “The quality of the teams is great and the opportunity to contest the qualifier at home is all that you could ask for as a coach. It’s added pressure, of course, but also added excitement,” Hong Kong coach Anna Richards said. “Hong Kong is iconic for sevens, so hosting the women’s qualifier here is great for the development of the game. The more Women’s events that can be played alongside the men’s tournaments the better.” Hong Kong must use 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup golden ticket to create sustainable domestic base The official draw for the tournament will be held on Monday, March 13, in Hong Kong. Richards’ team travelled to New Zealand to train with the New Zealand development squad last month, and will have another training camp in Japan later this week as they try to seal a place among the elite next season. “New Zealand was really good for us. We wanted to play against some bigger and more physical opposition to replicate what we will see next month,” said Richards. “And we footed it really well. They had a lot of quality players in the team in New Zealand, including four contracted players and one Olympian, so it was a really good build-up. “We were right in there in those matches and I think the girls gained a lot of confidence. If we can play like that next month, then I would give us a good chance to make a semi-final. “To advance we will need to finish in the top two in our pool, so we will need a bit of luck in the draw on Monday night, but we have had a good build-up so far and the girls are very focused. “If we can keep building on what we achieved in New Zealand, we can enter the tournament with a lot of confidence.” Hong Kong squad for Japan training camp Amelie Seure, Adrienne Garvery, Chan Tsz-ching, Christy Cheng Ka-chi, Cheng NG Tsz-ting, Chong Ng Ka-yan, Christine Gordon, Colleen Tjosvold, Kwong Sau-yan, Nam Ka-man, Natasha Olson-Thorne, Poon Pak-yan, Sham Wai-sum, Yuen Lok-yee.