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By Western Force Media Unit
Hong Kong and Malaysia will contest the third annual Margaret River Sevens – WA’s premier sevens event – at Gloucester Park, Margaret River on Saturday, 22 February and Sunday, 23 February.
The Hong Kong national side – ‘the Dragons’ – will travel down under for next month’s tournament and seek to put their new IRB World Ranking of 25 into action in the south-west after recently climbing four places in the standings as a result of consecutive wins over Belgium.
Hong Kong, along with Japan, reached the final in every round of the 2013 HSBC Asian Sevens Series but were unable to back up their 2012 title, going down 24-19 in the decider in Singapore.
The Dragons will be joined by fellow Asian nation, Malaysia, who were plate winners in their home round in the 2013 HSBC Asian Sevens Series, finishing top of their pool and beating Thailand 10-0 in the final.
The Asian nations join a cast of local sides, including reigning champions, Nedlands, who will look to defend their title after an unbeaten tournament and commanding 43-7 win over Wests Scarborough in last year’s final.
Tournament organiser and RugbyWA Sevens Coordinator Nicole Serafini says the inclusion of the international sides continues the growth of the tournament, with the event expanding to a two-day this year.
“We are very excited to boast an international flavour to the tournament by welcoming Hong Kong and Malaysia as headlining sides at next month’s event,” she said.
“Their experience in the Asian region will add another dimension to the tournament and will no doubt entertain the fans.
“We’ve been very encouraged by the interest in this year’s event and have already had 15 teams confirmed in the ‘A’ division alone.
The 2014 Margaret River Sevens will feature Men’s and Women’s Open competitions, and has expanded this year with to include a Men’s Open ‘B’ Grade for social players as well as the ‘Cross Field Fat Boys’ tournament – designed for the larger rugby player.
Serafini says Sevens continues to play an integral role in the growth of rugby in Western Australia.
“We are continuing to see more and more players from across different codes and sports participating in our Sevens events,” she said.
“It’s a fun and fast version of rugby that people of all sporting backgrounds really enjoy playing.
“In addition to the growth of the Margaret River Sevens over the past few years, we have been very excited about the interest and participation in our Broome Sevens and Beach Sixes tournaments in the latter half of 2013.”
Rugby Sevens’ inclusion into the Olympics and its debut in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games has helped introduce the sport to a new audience and helped promoted the game to an extended worldwide audience.
The Australian Rugby Union yesterday announced that Rugby Sevens played a major role in the overall growth of 2013 national participation numbers, with an additional 15,864 players taking part in the abridged version of the game last year – an increase of more than 40% on 2012. This contributed to record participation levels in Australian Rugby in 2013, with 615,809 participants across the country and Western Australia realising a 4.25% increase to reach 12,916 registered players.
Western Force players Nick Cummins, Luke Morahan, Junior Rasolea, Zack Holmes and Ed Stubbs have all represented Australia in IRB Sevens tournaments.
For more information visit www.westernforce.com.au/Sevens.
Qantas Australian Sevens player Shannon Walker will play his first tournament in over a year when he lines up for the National Indigenous side at this weekend’s National Sevens Championships in Narrabeen, Sydney.