Rugby sevens will begin today
Updated: 2011-08-27 07:56
By Tym Glaser (China Daily)
Former Malaysia coach Dean Herewini (center) instructs a group of local schoolchildren aged 12-16 during the HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour, which will conclude at this weekend's Shanghai Sevens at the Yuanshen Stadium. Provided to China Daily
SHANGHAI - A new era in Asian rugby dawns on Saturday when the HSBC Asian Sevens Series kicks off here at the Yuanshen Stadium.
The Shanghai Sevens will feature 12 men's teams and four women's squads from around the region and will be the first of the four tournaments that will comprise the series; the other events include the Borneo Sevens in Kota Kinabalu and two new events, in Bangkok, Thailand, and Goa, India. The Shanghai and Borneo sevens are world ranking events, and organizers hope the other tournaments will gain that status in the near future. The rankings will determine which Asian teams are invited to international tournaments such as the famous Hong Kong Sevens in March 2012.
The rankings will also be used for qualification to other regional and international competitions like the Asian Games, and even participation in qualification for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, where rugby sevens will make its debut.
Peter Wong, chief executive of HSBC Asia-Pacific, said, "We believe in encouraging potential wherever and whenever we can. Development of rugby in Asia is one area where we see such potential and it is incredibly exciting to support the HSBC Asian Sevens Series as it visits China, Malaysia, Thailand and India.
"We anticipate more people playing and watching rugby, and can see the sport itself maturing every year with its return to the Olympics in 2016," Wong said in a release.
China is one of the inaugural event's favored teams, along with Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. The men's teams have been divided into four groups of three and the host has been drawn with Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan and is expected to have little trouble advancing to Sunday's premier Cup competition.
Ross Mitchell, honorary secretary general of the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU), said, "The ARFU is now able to provide more consistent competition and greater opportunities for our elite men's and women's sevens teams to further develop their players. The series results will also create a transparent ranking system for qualification for multi-sport competitions like the Asian Games and for the Olympics."
Jarrad Gallagher, regional general manager for Asia of the International Rugby Board (IRB), said, "As the launch of this new series proves, rugby in Asia continues to grow. Investing in tournaments and events is an important way to support this impressive growth of the game, and we thank HSBC for its continued support to the game in the region.
"The new HSBC Asian Sevens Series will help further strengthen Asian rugby and ensure that the region has its own top-level competition, joining rugby nations around the world as they continue to develop their strength in sevens rugby in preparation for the ultimate sevens event, the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro."
HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2011
Aug 27-28, Shanghai Sevens, Yuanshen Stadium, Shanghai, China
Sept 24-25, Borneo Sevens, Likas Stadium, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Nov 12-13, Thailand Sevens, Bangkok
Nov 19-20, India Sevens, Goa
Shanghai - Men's teams: China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates. Women's teams: China, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Thailand.
Borneo - Men's teams: Brunei, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates. Women's teams - China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Bangkok - Men's teams: China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United Arab Emirates.
Goa - Men's teams: China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates.
(China Daily 08/27/2011 page15)