Tears of joy for World Series qualifiers
For three nations Hong Kong was always going to prove a particularly happy hunting ground in 2012, and so it proved for Canada, Spain and Portugal.
In winning through to the core team qualifying final and contesting the Shield, Canada and Spain became the first two nations to guarantee themselves core team status to join the current top 12 in the world on the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series. Canada eventually triumphed to take silverware and rubber-stamp the achievement.
"We set our goal to win the tournament knowing that if we did we'd become a core team so we've achieved two goals really this weekend and it's credit to the players, they've worked really hard this year," said Canada Sevens head coach, Geraint John.
Clearly feeling the pressure, the Canadians played nervy rugby on the first two days and lost to Zimbabwe in their pool. They recovered to edge Spain 10-7 to reach the quarters but it might have been so different.
"We actually went away after two days and played some fun games with the boys, just to try and get them to relax. I thought we were a bit tense on Friday and Saturday. And when the players woke up today you could see they were ready. We always thought we'd make it through to the Sunday and we played a little better today and well in the final to score all of those tries.
"I'm glad if it entertained everyone else because as a coach and a player it's probably one of the most nerve-wracking things we've ever done! I'm just really pleased for them because a lot of them have been on the circuit for a while, we've worked hard and I think on our performances over the last three years, we deserve to be there."
Spain surprised many by recovering from that loss to the Canadians to win through to the qualifying final with victories over Tonga and then Japan to guarantee their own core team place.
"It is amazing for us, we have been working hard for this and to qualify. I think the boys did a great job, we had some tough moments, but we sorted the situations, we are happy and I am very proud," said the team's captain, Pablo Feijoo..
"It is like a dream, we have been dreaming of this achievement all year and to do it here is great. After the match we knew we had qualified and we started crying because our sacrifice was so much."
In the crucial 3rd/4th play-off for the last remaining core team place, Portugal made it a stunning night for Iberia, beating Japan to lay claim to the 15th slot at each round on next year's Series.
"It was a fantastic moment for us, it is so important to play as a core team next season because we love Sevens in Portugal. We are on an Olympic pathway and we are really happy. The boys played really well, it is a victory for everyone," said the key man behind Portugal's resurgence, Director of Rugby Tomaz Morais.
"Portugal is a small country, we don't have a lot of players to put in the sides, we need to manage very well, the boys with experience. But in the future we will have an academy and we will also have a lot of younger players next year.
"I can't quite believe it, we are very happy, it is a fantastic opportunity for us to improve our Sevens and to improve more players in international rugby.
22-24 March 2013
Venue: Hong Kong Stadium
City: Hong Kong