Asian Teams Qualify for 2018/19 HSBC Sevens Series a 'Boost' for Sevens
HONG KONG, HONG KONG - APRIL 08: Japan Rugby Squad celebrating a score during the HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2018 Qualification Final match between Germany and Japan on April 8, 2018 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images for HSBC)

In a boost for both the game, and for representation, Asian teams qualify for the 2018/19 HSBC Sevens Series. And it was not handed to them either – both the Chinese women and Japanese men held nothing back this weekend, to reach their goals.

Not only did they compete and win at the 2018 Cathay Pacific/Hong Kong Sevens either. The side achieved their goals as teams representing Asia Rugby. The body (formerly named the Asian Rugby Football Union) will be over the moon. They have ambition to drive the sport of rugby throughout the region, and to have more teams on the world’s stage is a powerful tool to achieve that.

By winning the Hong Kong tournament, each side has faced their opponents and performed more than admirably.

China and Japan secure entry into 2018/19 Sevens Series

The last four days have been a great example of the lift in quality. Rugby sevens was the winner, as sides from across the globe each produced better than expected quality. And while Asian teams qualify for core status, each nation can take away many lessons from Hong Kong.

Women’s Qualifier:

  • Pool A –  South Africa, Kenya, PNG, Mexico
  • Pool B – Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong
  • Pool C – Belgium, Poland, Argentina, Wales

China defied the odds to beat South Africa 31-14 to win the women’s qualifier. A surprise, but also a reflection China’s development program has been focused on sevens since the Olympic’s embraced the sport.

They humbled Brazil in the quarter-finals and set aside Belgium in the semi-final knockout game. It was a march, on their way to victory.

Men’s Qualifier: 

  • Pool E – Japan, Uganda, Chile, Georgia
  • Pool F – Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Germany, Zimbabwe
  • Pool G – Ireland, Uruguay, Cook Islands, Jamaica

Kameli Soejima scored right at the death for Japan, to deny the Germany [for the second year in a row] a chance of earning core status. The European power led 14-12 until Soejima struck.

Sport can sometimes be cruel, but the joy was evident, with Japan winning 19-14. It was a double-delight, as Asian teams qualify to the men’s and women’s HSBC Sevens Series.

Ireland was unlucky to lose to the Japanese in the semis, as the Irish men did extremely well – as did Jamiaca. Germany held Chile off in the other semi-final, and that team is surely the ‘next best’ and should be invited onto the European legs of the 2018/19 series (if World Rugby respect the quality of their on-field work).

Asian Teams Qualify for 2018/19 HSBC Sevens Series a ‘Boost’ for Sevens

With the news that Asian teams qualify for the core status in the premier World Series, it is a credit to those nations, and to World Rugby. The growth into the five key regions has been critical to the development policies of the governing body. Asia particularly has been a ‘slow build’.

Kenya’s Collins Injera (L) and Kenya’s Oscar Ouma tackle Japan’s Kazushi Hano (C) in the mens rugby sevens match between Kenya and Japan during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016. (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

But with the advent of the Olympic, and currently occurring on the Gold Coast of Australia, the Commonwealth Games, both International events help to build the interest.

In recent years, games have been held in Delhi 2010, and in Kuala Lumpur 1998. That was the first time rugby sevens had been played at the Games, with Malaysia and Sri Lanka competing against the biggest names in rugby sevens.

Examples like that, and in the upcoming Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, are where teams from Asia can learn the most. At the RWC7s, both Japan men and women, and the Chinese women will all compete. So when Asian teams qualify for those tournaments, and gain core status on the HSBC Sevens Series, it all reinforces the growth and potential of the game within this region.

_______________________________________________________________________

Congratulations to all teams that competed at the Sevens Series Qualifiers and to the organizers for another wonderful event.

 

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.