Hong Kong set for unforgettable weekend as 2023 Series continues

Hong Kong set for unforgettable weekend as 2023 Series continues
The 28 men’s and women’s team captains gathered on Wednesday in front of the world-famous Hong Kong skyline ahead of the highly anticipated Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, which sees the iconic tournament include the women’s Series for the first time in its 46-year history.

The tournament marks the eighth round in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 in the men’s competition, including the second time in Hong Kong after the opening tournament in November, along with the sixth stop for the women.

For the first time in the event’s 46-year history, the top 12 women’s nations, including invitational side Hong Kong China, are set to join the men’s Series for a thrilling three-day competition in front of an expected crowd of more than 100,000 rugby, sports and entertainment fans over the weekend.

Hong Kong China women’s captain Melody Li said: “It’s really a big and meaningful occasion for us playing for our first time on the World Series on our home ground with the men’s team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and hopefully we can inspire more young girls to play rugby in Hong Kong.

“I first attended the Hong Kong Sevens in high school in 2012 as a liaison officer for Australia, and I was hoping that one day I could play in the stadium, but I never knew it I’d get the chance, so I’m really happy.”

The men’s Series has seen five different winners (Australia, Samoa, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand) through the opening seven tournaments. New Zealand, who won in Sydney and Los Angeles, currently sit atop the Series standings with 120 points, followed by Argentina (108), who won the last stop at the HSBC Canada Sevens along with Hamilton, closely trailed by Vancouver runners-up France with 95 points and Fiji and Australia are both tied with 94 points with just four events to go.  

In the men’s competition, Vancouver champions Argentina slot into Pool A alongside Fiji, Samoa and Canada while HSBC Canada Sevens runners-up France headline Pool B with Great Britain, Uruguay and hosts Hong Kong China.

HSBC Canada Sevens bronze medallists Australia will face off against USA, Spain and Japan in Pool C while Ireland will meet Series leaders New Zealand, Kenya and Dubai winners South Africa in Pool D.

The stakes couldn’t be higher at the bottom end of the men’s Series this season as well.

Following the penultimate event in Toulouse, the 15th ranked team will be relegated, while the 12th through 14th ranked teams will face-off against the Sevens Challenger Series 2023 winner for the 12th and final position on the 2024 Series.

The women’s Series has seen five tournaments, compared to seven for the men, with New Zealand sitting firmly on top of the standings with 98 points having won the last four tournaments in Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney and Vancouver.

The actions kicks off on Friday, 31 March at 12:16 local time (GMT+8) with France v Japan in the women’s tournament, with the men getting underway at 14:40 with New Zealand v Kenya.

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