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Hong Kong Sevens

World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier 2017

The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will once again host the battle for promotion to next season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in the World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier. 
Asian sevens champions and hosts Hong Kong will be back for another tilt after reaching the cup final last year, where they missed out in a heartbreaker to Japan, 24-14.
While there’s no Japan for Hong Kong to contend with this year, the field of 12 teams – two each from World Rugby’s six regions – comes bristling with talent, and form.
As statements of intent go, Germany’s return – after 24 years – in 2016 was impressive. The Germans drew with the heavily fancied Zimbabwe 14-14 before turning Hong Kong over 12-5 on the first day. 
Heading into this year’s tournament, the Germans might not yet have a professional set-up but their attitude is exactly that professional.
“[Last year] it was special for us being in Hong Kong but beating them wasn’t any different from playing the other teams,” says Germany’s director of rugby, Manuel Wilhelm. 
“We have the utmost respect for all teams involved in this wonderful competition and we just feel honoured to be part of such a wonderful and traditional tournament.”
A fourth-placing in the European Grand Prix behind Russia, France and Spain showed the Germans are continuing to build a powerful squad.
Debutants Uganda will be hoping to be this year’s surprise package after downing Namibia 38-19 in the final of the Rugby Africa Men's Sevens Championships last September. They also beat Japan when they were invited to play in the World Series event at December’s Dubai Sevens - their first-ever Series victory. 
“Hong Kong is the Mecca of Sevens and Ugandan fans are well aware of the tournament. It will be a baptism of fire for us, but we have been training very hard,” was Uganda coach Tolbert Ondanga’s reaction to qualifying.
Chile will be another team to watch this weekend as they enter their third successive World Series tournament in Hong Kong after finishing tied-11th on their most recent outing in Vancouver, ahead of four Series regulars and level with Kenya. 
They come to Hong Kong all the better for the experience – and keener than ever to make sure they can line up for a full season at the very top of the game if they win the qualifying tournament here.
Hong Kong
Sri Lanka
Papua New Guinea
(Edited on 7/4/17)


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