40 captains set for bumper sevens
6 April, 2018, 12:00 am
All 40 team captains gathered in front of a picturesque Hong Kong island backdrop on Wednesday as teams gear up for four days of fierce competition at the prestigious tournament.
As well as the sold-out 16-team HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 main event running across three days from Friday-Sunday, two qualifier events will also run parallel to the core competition. Twelve teams will battle it out in the men’s world series qualifier, with the winner taking the prestigious prize of core team status for 2019. The same applies in the women’s qualifier competition, played across Thursday and Friday, with a core team spot on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2019 up for grabs.
In the men’s world series, reigning Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens champions Fiji will enter this year’s tournament chasing their fourth consecutive title. The Pacific Islanders have brought a star-studded squad to the competition as they look to leapfrog series leaders South Africa, who are just eight points ahead in the standings.
“For the Fijians this is one of the biggest tournaments that exists,” said coach Gareth Baber. “I’ve selected a squad to go and win both Hong Kong and the Commonwealth Games and we’re ready to compete at the highest level.”
“The competition is as intense as ever,” said USA coach Mike Friday. “Ultimately it’s about which teams delivers on the pitch in front of an electric atmosphere. When you get the opportunity to play in Hong Kong, you grab it with both hands.”
Hosts Hong Kong will look to improve on their quarter-final exit from last year’s qualifying competition and captain Ben Rimene is hoping training with the likes of Fiji has got them set for the event.