The ‘sevens fiesta’ at the Mecca of all Sevens Rugby; Hong Kong, will play host to 12 teams this weekend, who are vying for a place within the HSBC 2017/18 Sevens Series. The Sevens Series Qualifier tournament will determine the winner to replace the bottom-placed side from this years season.
Spain will be vying for a place back up with ‘the big boys’. They will face tough competition though from Uganda, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and the host nation, Hong Kong. However, the giant killers will be the Germany, who have been consistent over the past two years in Hong Kong–only falling short at the final hurdle.
— 7s in South Africa (@BlitzBokke) April 1, 2017
From these leading sides, there will be one team who can bank on the security of knowing they will compete across the official 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series.
Sevens Series Qualifier Tournament
Germany and Spain are the European representatives; Oceania represented by Tonga and Papua New Guinea (P.N.G). Jamaica and Guyana are from Central-America, with Uganda and Namibia traveling from Africa. Hosts Hong Kong and Sri Lanka are representing the Asian region, with dark horses Chile and Uruguay from the Sudamerica region.
Every team has an objective–some maybe here to blood new players on the biggest stage for tier-two sevens nations. The hype and activity around a venue like Hong Kong can be overwhelming, so for teams who do not compete often, the experience is one to savour.
For the rest, the goal is to join the other core sides on next years tour. So, who looks the best? Follow Last Word ON Rugby as we highlight these emerging nations.
Pool E – Germany, Tonga, Jamaica and Uganda
Germany are the giant killers, they will be out to beat the best to gain their spot among the best. They are physical, run their lines well with good defensive patterns. Execution will be their main weapon, execute well the spot is theirs.
German squad: Oskar Calitz, Carlos Soteras-Merz, Anjo Buckman, Pierre Mathurin, Sebastian Foraam, Fabian Heimpel, Phil Szczersny, Steffen Liebig (see main picture), Tim Biniak, Bastian Himmer, Tim Litchberg, Raynor Parkinson, Clemens Von Grumbkow.
Tonga have been struggling with their sevens program for the past five years. They need redemption to get back to be with the best. Consistency and lack of exposure have lead to their downward spiral. Hong Kong could be their rainy day.
Tongan squad: Fautasi Ma’u, Anthony Amato, Ofa Teisina, Samisoni Maake, Samisoni Asi, Tevita Tai, Hufangahau Latu, Tevita Ekuasi, Unaloto Kulani, Taniela Simita, Siaosi Manufekai, Sosaia Tokai.
Uganda was brilliant in the opening rounds of the season in Dubai and Cape Town. They could surprise Spain and Hong Kong here but if they get their discipline problems get the better of them then they can say goodbye to their aspirations. Philip and Michael Wokoroach are the ones to watch together with Lawrence Sibiba and Marvin Odongo.
Ugandan Squad: Marvin Odongo, Eric Kasita, Govle Ramathan, Adrian Kasito, Philip Wokoroach, Michael Wokoroach, Lawrence Sebuiba, Pius Ogena, Tim Kisiga, Solomon Okia, Byron Oketayot, Fred Odur.
— Jamaica Rugby Union (@Jamaica_Rugby) April 4, 2017
Jamaica will use this tournament as a stepping stone to the growth of rugby sevens in the island union. The Crocs will enjoy the attention, but must be sure to ensure the basics are done right. If they waiver, teams like Germany and Uganda will make them pay.
Jamaican squad: Lucas Smith, Omar Dixon, Josh Jacas, Marcus Webber, Rhodri Adamson, Conan Osborne, Anthony Bingham, Gareth Stoppani, Ashley Smith, Tyrone Rowe, Oshane Eddie, Fabion Turner, Joshua Christie.
Pool F – Hong Kong, Chile, Sri Lanka, Namibia
The Jevan Groves coached Hong Kong side is one of the favourites if they can play until the end. They always start good in tournament but falter when they needed it the most. They had an outstanding outing at the Coral Coast Sevens in Fiji where they played alongside some of the best exponents of the game.
Max Woodward will spearhead their campaign together with fellow senior players in Rowan Varty, Tom McQueen and Jamie Hood.
Hong Kong squad: Max Woodward, Michael Coverdale, Ryan Meachem, Lee Jones, Toby Fenn, Cado Lee Ka To, Ben Rimene, Chris Maize, Rowan Varty, Jamie Hood, Tom McQueen, Salom Shing, Jason Jeyam.
Chile did well in the American leg of the World Series, even scaring South Africa in Vancouver. They are progressing well in their growth in the game learning all they can. Felipe Brangier will be their key playmaker this weekend for the South Americans.
El capitán de Chile 7s hablo con Sudamérica Rugby sobre lo que se viene para el seleccionado nacional en Hong… https://t.co/O5sby5pTJ7
— RUGBYNOTICIAS.cl (@RUGBYNOTICIAS) March 27, 2017
Chilean squad: Felipe Brangier, Francisco Neira, Martin Verschae, Marcelo Torrealba, Rodrigo Fernandez, Lucas Wescott, Ignacio Silva, Anton Petrowitsch, Francisco Metuaze, Francisco Urroz, Julio Blanc, Martin Raddatz.
Sri Lanka was the darling of Hong Kong in the 90s with Sudath Sampath leading the side. They have evolved and hoping to stamp their mark as a giant in Asia as rugby continue to grow in the region. Jessan Dissayanka, Srinath Sooriyabandra and Fazil Marija will be the ones to watch.
Sri Lanka squad: Sudarshana Muthuthanthri, Jessan Dissanyaka, Srinath Sooriyabandra, Dansha Dayan, Suhiru Anthony, Richard Dharamapala, Kavin Dixon, Dhanushka Ranjan, Danushka Hadapangodage, Fazil Marija, Auruddha Wilwara, Anuradha Herath, Chanaka Chandimala.
Namibia has been missing from the international stage for a while, but are back to ‘get their groove on’. The Namibians take over from Zimbabwe and Zambia, who usually represent the African region.
Namibian squad: Georg Niehaus, Lean Stoop, Handre Bezuidenhout, Janny Du Toit, Martinus Cronje, Ricardo Swartz, Lloyd Jacobs, Jean Jacobs, Helarius Kisting, Shareave Titus, Nandivatu Karuuombe, Cliven Loubser.
Pool G – Spain, Uruguay, PNG, Guyana
The Pablo Feijoo coached Spanish side are the favourite in Hong Kong, to take out the qualifying spot. They have the experience in the side who competed in the Sevens Series and the 2016 Olympics.
They definitely have the arsenal to strike from anywhere in the field, with good defensive patterns to probably upset any side at this tournament. The qualifying spot is [theoretically] theirs to lose. Ignacio Martin Goenaga, Jaike Carter and Pol Pla will lead their campaign at So Kon Po Stadium.
Spanish squad: Ignacio Martin Goenaga, Inaki Villanueva, Jaike Carter, Pablo Del Castro, Angel Vazques, Francisco Jimenez, Pablo Martin Enrique, Lucas Levy, Igor Sistiaga, Pol Pla, Joan Losada, Javier Llorens.
Papua New Guinea
The PNG coach Douglas Guise has made two strategic changes to his side from the team that played in the Oceania leg of the HSBC Series. The Pukpuks have recalled Dean Manaele and Hensley Peter to replace Maluai Patala and Daniel Opa. PNG were impressive in Wellington and Sydney and will be trying to use that to carry them through this weekend.
They are in a tough pool and will be relying on the experience of Wesley Vaili, Henry Kalua, Arthur Clement together with William Tirang and Emmanuel Guise to spearhead their campaign. Spain and Uruguay will challenge them to bring out their best if they want to join the best from pool play.
Pukpuks squad: Henry Kalua, William Tirang, Patrick Tatut Jnr, Eugene Tokavai, Nathan Baramun, Emmanuel Guise, Arthur Clement, Wesley Vaili, Dean Manale, Gairo Kapana, Freddy Rova, Hensley Peter.
The South American want to join the World Series, the first step is here with Gaston Arrendondo leading the charge. They played well in the Sudamerca Sevens series which the Fijian Barbarian side claimed. They are here on business, along with Chile to ‘tell the World’ that Argentina might not be be their sole representative from the region.
Uruguayan squad: Santiago Hernandez, Santiago Civetta, Mateo Tortorella, Juan Ignacio Garcia, Juan Larossa, Federico Garcia, Francisco Berchesi, Guillermo Lopez De Haro, Gaston Arrendondo, Gaston Valente, Sebastian Janssen, Eugenio Plottier.
They could be minnows in the tournament, but they could also be the surprise package. Sevens is a game that can go either way, so if they execute well, Guyana will certainly be competitive. Soaking up the atmosphere will be a focus, so they can focus their energies on the field….and not the night clubs!
Guyana squad: Rupert Giles, Richard Staglon, Vallon Adams, Rickford Cummings, Rondell Arthur, Avery Corbin, Patrick King, Ronald Mayers, Ryan Gonsalves, Peabo Hamilton, Cladius Butts, Blaise Bayley.
So over the next two days, each of the 12 sides will strive to compete, challenge and to better the opposition. It should be as entertaining as the main fixture matches, but it runs in the tradition of Hong Kong. Crowd support will be strong, with both locals and visitors cheering for every side in the fabulous atmosphere of the Sevens Series Qualifier.
The qualifying matches kick-off on Friday April 7, at 12.00pm. See the fixture list here.
“main photo credit”