England Pooled with Wales for Hong Kong 7’s

The pool draw has been made for this year’s Hong Kong Sevens on 26-28 March, the 24-team event which is also the sixth stop on the 2009/10 IRB Sevens World Series.

Traditionally the Hong Kong tournament offers the aspiring rugby nations of Asia an opportunity to showcase their development, and this year is no exception with Japan, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Korea and Chinese Taipei split across the six pools.

Based on performance in the two most recently completed Series events, Samoa are the top seeds in Hong Kong.

The 2007 champions head Pool A and face tough matches against Argentina and two European challengers, Russia and Italy.

Series leaders New Zealand are seeded second and head Pool B where they will play Scotland, France and Chinese Taipei on days one and two.

In Pool C defending Hong Kong Sevens champions Fiji are matched against the USA, Portugal and Thailand.

USA Sevens semi finalists Australia are fourth seeds and line up in Pool D alongside Canada, Tonga and China.

In Pool E England face local rivals Wales, as well as the dual Asian challenge of regional heavyweights Japan and home favourites Hong Kong.

Finally in Pool F, traditionally the most evenly-matched due to the seeding structure, all three African nations in the draw will go head to head: Kenya and Zimbabwe will both be out to upset reigning IRB Sevens World Series champions South Africa, while Korea complete the line-up.

So far this season there have been three different Cup winners on the World Series. New Zealand won the opening two events in Dubai and George, South Africa. Defending Hong Kong Sevens champions Fiji took the honours in Wellington and Samoa won the first USA Sevens title to be contested in Las Vegas.

As a result of those tournaments, New Zealand currently top the standings with 84 points followed by Samoa (70) and Fiji (68). Four-time Hong Kong champions England lie further back but within striking distance on 50 points.

The final day of this year’s Hong Kong tournament has been restructured to bring it in line with the other seven events on the Series.

While the winning Cup quarter-finalists will proceed the Cup semi-finals, the losers will now proceed to the Plate semi-finals where they will still have the chance to play for 16 Series points, compared to the eight points on offer under the previous scoring system.

“The new structure creates three additional matches involving some of the top teams. As an example, last year’s losing Cup quarter-finalists were Argentina, Australia, England and New Zealand. We can also look forward to an additional Shield final, which is certain to ramp up the excitement of ‘Sevens Sunday’ in Hong Kong even further,” said HKRFU Tournament Director Warrick Dent.

Pool A

Samoa (SAM)
Argentina (ARG)
Russia (RUS)
Italy (ITA)

Pool B

New Zealand (NZL)
Scotland (SCO)
France (FRA)
Chinese Taipei (TPE)

Pool C

Fiji (FIJ)
United States (USA)
Portugal (POR)
Thailand (THA)

Pool D

Australia (AUS)
Canada (CAN)
Tonga (TON)
China (CHN)

Pool E

England (ENG)
Wales (WAL)
Japan (JPN)
Hong Kong (HKG)

Pool F

Kenya (KEN)
South Africa (RSA)
Zimbabwe (ZIM)
Korea (KOR)

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