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By IRB Media Unit
The official draw has been held for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, round six of the HSBC Sevens World Series to be played on 23-25 March 2012 at the Hong Kong Stadium.
With the event doubling up in 2012 as the HSBC Sevens World Series core team qualifier, the renowned Hong Kong event will play host to two 12-team competitions played side by side at the 40,000-capacity venue.
One competition will feature the current 12 HSBC Sevens World Series core teams, who were drawn into three pools - A, B and C. The other competition features 12 teams from across the six IRB rugby regions, who will play for three additional core team places in the 2012/13 World Series and were drawn into pools D, E and F.
The Cup winner, runner-up and third-place finisher at the recent USA Sevens - Samoa, New Zealand and Fiji respectively - were seeded top of pools A, B and C, while the remaining nine core teams were grouped into three bands based on the current World Series standings, and drawn into the three pools.
Following the draw, Pool A comprises Samoa, England, Argentina and Kenya. Pool B features Series leaders New Zealand, South Africa, Wales and the USA. Pool C features Fiji, Australia, France and Scotland.
The HSBC Sevens World Series qualification tournament features 12 teams, including Regional champions from all six IRB regions, who will play for three additional core team places in the 2012/13 World Series. These 12 nations were grouped based on their performances on the HSBC Sevens World Series and at other IRB Sevens events over the past two years, and drawn into pools D, E and F.
Following the draw, Pool D features Tonga, Uruguay, hosts Hong Kong and China. Pool E comprises Canada, Spain, Zimbabwe and debut team the Philippines. Pool F includes Portugal, Russia, Japan and the tournament’s second debutant, Guyana.
All core teams participating in the Cup, Plate and Bowl will receive World Series ranking points, while the top four placed teams in the qualification tournament will receive ranking points in respect of their final placing in the Shield. More significantly, the two finalists and the winner of the 3rd-4th play-off will earn core team status on the 2012/13 Series.
IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, said: “The Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens continues to grow around the world, attracting new countries to the Rugby family.
“Opening the entire World Series up to a further three nations from next season is an extremely positive step forward. Promotion and relegation from the core teams will operate on an annual basis moving forward to stimulate competition and ensure that there is equity in terms of being able to win core team status on merit. We thank the Hong Rugby Football Union for hosting this exciting qualifying event in 2012 and will consider the best possible fit for this annual event moving forward."
Currently, New Zealand tops the HSBC Sevens World Series on 92 points with Fiji just five points adrift on 87. South Africa is in third place with 76 points followed by England with 74. After winning in Las Vegas, Samoa is in fifth place with 69 points.
Pool draw - Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
Competition 1 - 2011/12 Core teams (Cup, Plate, Bowl)
Competition 2 - Core team qualifier, 2012/13 World Series