The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) held the official draw for the 44th annual Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (5-7 April) and HSBC World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Sevens Series Qualifiers 2019 tonight at Hysan Place in Hong Kong.
Participating guests officiating tonight’s draws were Mr KS Wong, Secretary for the Environment for the Hong Kong Government; Mr Kevin Martin, Regional Head of Wealth Management ASP, HSBC; Mr Simon Large, Director Customer of Cathay Pacific Airways; and Ms Irene Lee, Chairman of Hysan Development. Mr Pieter Schats, Mr Peter Duncan and Ms Kim Boreham, Chairman, President and Board Member of the HKRU respectively, also officiated the proceedings.
Three draws were held, including that for the Sevens – the seventh of ten events on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. That tournament will feature the 15 Series teams plus Portugal, World Rugby’s nominated 16th team.
|Pool E||Pool F||Pool G|
The draw for the 12-team World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier, which is played alongside the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament, was also held, as was that for the 12-team World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier 2019, whose final day of action is featured inside the Stadium on 5 April.
Hong Kong Sevens
The three tournaments see 40 international sides contesting their respective competitions in front of an expected 120,000-strong cumulative crowd at the 2019 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, rugby’s ultimate bucket list event.
With 40 participating teams across both men and women, the Hong Kong Sevens is the largest tournament on the Series, affirming the event’s tagline as the event where the World Comes to Play. The 40 teams mark the world’s largest gathering of international rugby unions in a single venue in 2019.
Heading into the largest and most raucous event on the Series, the action to date has been compelling. The USA Eagles are flying high after a run that saw them reach the first four finals (losing twice to New Zealand and twice to Fiji), before they grabbed the silverware in Las Vegas, defending their title from last season. USA couldn’t extend their finals feat in Vancouver, but a fourth place finish means that the Eagles will enter Hong Kong as the world’s top sevens for the first time on their 39th appearance.
New Zealand, 11-time champions in Hong Kong, are in second with 106 points, seven behind the US and five points in front of Fiji, (101), who will have a different five in mind when they chase a record extending fifth straight win in their home away from home in Hong Kong. The most recent Cup winner, South Africa, whose win in Vancouver was their first of the season, is in fourth spot on 89 points, followed by fifth placed England on 80.
This year’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens tournament will feature 77 matches as the HKRU continue its tradition of hosting all of the final-day matches of the Women’s qualifier inside the Stadium on opening day, Friday, 5 April, with the presentation of the women’s cup that evening.
World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier Draw results
The winner of the World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier, featuring teams from each of World Rugby’s six regions, will earn promotion to next year’s Series, replacing the bottom-ranked team after the completion of the season. Japan were promoted last year after beating Chile in the final.
Ten of last year’s teams are returning to this year’s contest with Germany, Russia and Ireland from Europe, Zimbabwe and Uganda from Africa, Jamaica from Americas North, Chile and Uruguay from Americas South, Hong Kong and Philippines from Asia, and Papua New Guinea and Tonga from Oceania.
Hong Kong were drawn in Pool E alongside Tonga, Zimbabwe and fellow Asian side Philippines.
Following the draw, Hong Kong coach Paul John said, “There are a lot of good teams again this year, and we are also coming to the end of an Olympic cycle, when teams put a lot more resource into their sevens programmes. It’s a massive year, and this tournament just keeps getting harder and harder, so it is great to be involved in it and we are looking forward to doing ourselves justice.”
Twelve teams, including Hong Kong, will contest the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier. Hong Kong were drawn with Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Uganda.
New Hong Kong women’s sevens coach Iain Monaghan said, “The Qualifier is a great opportunity for us to benchmark ourselves against some quality teams from around the world. At the same time, it is a real honour for us to host this tournament and to be involved in the game at this time, and this growing women’s rugby movement.”
Mr Kevin Martin of HSBC said, “Like HSBC, the Hong Kong Sevens has its roots in this city which we call home, and has flourished to become a global phenomenon from its modest origin. This is the tournament that more than any other personifies the very best of the incredible sport of rugby sevens. With the sport as unpredictable as ever, it is great to see new teams challenging and new stars emerging with anything possible in this world-class tournament.
“We’re proud of our role as an active partner, working hand in hand with World Rugby, the Hong Kong Rugby Union and our co-title sponsors Cathay Pacific, to ensure the Hong Kong Sevens continues to thrive for years to come and we wish all the teams competing, the very best of luck in what is set to be a hugely entertaining weekend of rugby”
Mr Simon Large of Cathay Pacific Airways said, “Starting life in 1976, the Sevens has grown to become the most vibrant occasion on the international rugby calendar – and as Hong Kong’s home airline, we have been proud to provide our support every step of the way.
“This is a time of year when we fly in supporters and teams from all over the world into Hong Kong. Our flights are always a bit more colourful during Sevens week. Nobody does rugby sevens like Hong Kong – it is the unique aspects and textures of our wonderful city that positions this tournament above and beyond all others.”
The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will be played from 5-7 April 2019 at the sold-out, 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium. For more information please visit the official website at hksevens.com.
The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is proud of being an “M” Mark event that helps enhance the image of Hong Kong as Asia’s sports event capital. The “M” Mark is awarded by the Major Sports Events Committee, symbolising an intense, spectacular and signature event in the territory’s sports calendar.