More teams, more at stake in 2014 Hong Kong Sevens

The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens kicked off with a festive Cantonese opera warrior dance, captains’ photo shoot and coaches’ press conference to welcome 28 men’s national teams to the seventh stop of the Sevens World Series calendar.  With Rugby Sevens set to make its Olympic debut in 2016, the spotlight is even brighter on one of the biggest sporting events of the year in Hong Kong.

Fiji is the two-time defending champion and the all-time winningest team in the event’s history, but it comes into the tournament ranked third behind South Africa and New Zealand in the Series standings.  The three countries have evenly split the first six World Series tournament titles, and Fiji Head Coach Ben Ryan says that he is not worried.

“As I’m always told, you could lose every game all year, [but] as long as you win Hong Kong, you’ll be okay,” Ryan joked during the press conference.

This year’s field is the largest ever with a group of “core” and “qualifying” captains.  Twelve teams falling under the latter category will compete for a chance to become promoted to “core” status in a new Hong Kong qualifying tournament, and earning the right to compete in the 2014-2015 HSBC Sevens World Series.  Meanwhile, the core team that finishes in last place in the standings following the conclusion of the season in May will be relegated.





The captains of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, Kyle Brown of South Africa and DJ Forbes of New Zealand, posed for photos alongside the trophy to cap off the photo session.  When asked to square off in a staring match in the style of a pre-heavyweight boxing title matchup, they couldn’t bring themselves to do it.

Video: Coaches’ pre-tournament press conference – 2014 Hong Kong Sevens
video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Five head coaches met the press in advance of the 2014 Hong Kong Sevens: Neil Powell (South Africa), Sir Gordon Tietjens (New Zealand), Ben Ryan (Fiji), Simon Amor (England) and Gareth Baber (Hong Kong).

Core teams: New Zealand, Samoa, United States, Scotland, England, Portugal, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Spain, Australia, France, Fiji, Kenya, Wales (note: Sri Lanka is also in the main draw as Asia’s third-highest ranked team)

Qualifying teams: American Samoa, Barbados, Chile, Cook Islands, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Russia, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Uruguay, Zimbabwe

The Hong Kong Sevens 2014 take place Mar. 28-30 at Hong Kong Stadium.