Who will join the Sevens elite?

(IRB.COM) Thursday 22 March 2012
 Who will join the Sevens elite?
Will Tonga become a core team on next year's Series?

As part of this weekend's Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, 12 teams will compete for three core teams places on next year's World Series.

Tonga, Uruguay, Hong Kong, China, Canada, Spain, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Japan and Guyana all have the opportunity to the join the Game's elite in a changed format for next year's Series.

With so much stake, this tournament is expected to be just as enthralling as the Cup.

We spoke with some of those involved in the main competition to ask how having 15 core teams will impact the next World Series, and who they think are the main contenders.


Who will join the Game’s elite? >>

Ben Ryan, England Sevens coach:
"What you will see across the board is that those three teams will improve incredibly. I hope that in planning for the next decade we have room for teams to come back in as well because it is just going to continue to grow. It is barmy what is happening in Sevens really and it just makes for even more excitement. You have to expect all these changes with the way the game is moving so quickly and we don't expect a smooth ride anymore.

"It's tough to call. The teams who have been good over the past few years in terms of beating core teams include the likes of Canada, they have a good coach and have a good spirit and approach the game in absolutely the right way.

"With my European hat on Portugal, Spain and Russia are all very strong and have shown they are as good as core teams on their day. But there is also Hong Kong with the home crowd, they will give it an absolute crack and will be hard to beat, as will Tonga who have shown that by beating Fiji in Wellington. You can keep going too with Zimbabwe, and Uruguay. I would say I can sometimes be a betting man but I would steer clear of this."

Stephen Betham, Samoa coach:
"With 15 teams next Series it is going to be more competitive. It is great for the crowd as well because there won't be any pushover games, they will all be competitive and you will just have to step up right from the start, and you can't overlook any other team.

"I was looking at the draw and I wouldn't want to pick three. I think there are six or seven teams who could take it out. Japan, Portugal, Tonga, they could all pull it off and on their day anything could happen. We will root for our brothers the Tongans, however, and we hope they can come through."

DJ Forbes, New Zealand captain:
"15 core teams will be great for the Series and Hong Kong this weekend is going to be exciting.

"Seeing what Tonga did in Wellington, there is a great opportunity there for them to put their hand up. The likes of Canada, who have been consistent, will also be favourites and Portugal, who we had a run against this week. There are a lot of teams who could join the core teams and it will be just as exciting as the so-called top team tournament - but those three teams are the ones to look out for."

Paul Treu, South Africa coach:
"I think from an IRB perspective it must be a goal achieved. Sevens is now an Olympic sport and in 2016 we'll be seeing the first Olympic Games with Sevens on board. One of the goals of the IRB is to make this a global game and in order to do that we have to make the Series even more competitive and expose more countries to that level of competition.This is the opportunity that some of these nations have been waiting for."

"I think what we're going to see this weekend is basically a warm-up for what we'll witness in the new season because the competitiveness of the pools is of such a nature that any team can go out there and win. That's what I think you'll see too going forward. No more easy games, not more easy quarter finals and as a spectator that must be what you want to see."

Nigel Starmer-Smith, TV commentator:
"My expectation is that Canada, Tonga and Portugal will celebrate their 'senior' arrival, but much will depend on who faces whom in the quarter-final round. Those final rounds, with so much hanging on the outcome, promise to be as exciting as the Cup Final itself."

Hong Kong Sevens

Round 6
27-29 March 2015
Venue: Hong Kong Stadium
City: Hong Kong
Capacity: 40,000

Pool A
Pool B
Pool C
Pool D
  • DJ Forbes, NZ
  • Tom Mitchell of England
  • NZ win HK Sevens