HK win Mumbai Sevens to claim Asia Series
Hong Kong beat rivals Japan 28-7 in the final of the Mumbai Sevens to claim a first ever Asian Series crown.
It was a winner-take-all scenario as Japan and Hong Kong emerged as the finalists at the third and final ranking event of the HSBC Asian Seven Series played before a big crowd at the Bombay Gymkhana Club.
And after many years of reverses at the hands of Japan, Hong Kong turned the tables on the Asian juggernaut with an inspired performance, scoring four tries to one to clinch the crown for the very first time.
As Asian champions, Hong Kong have confirmed their place in the main 16-team competition at the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in March, and in the Series core team qualifying final in London later in the season.
In finising second and third respectively, Japan and Chinese Taipei go into the World Series pre-qualifying event in Hong Kong, bidding to make it through to the promotion / relegation battle in London.
“This is a magnificent victory. It has been two to three years in the making – to be crowned Asian champions,” said an overjoyed Hong Kong coach, Dai Rees.
“It is extra sweet as we have lost to Japan so many times in the past in big games, like at the Asian Games gold medal final in Guangzhou (in 2010) and the East Asian Games final (2009). This year too, at the Hong Kong Sevens, we lost to Japan and failed to qualify for the World Series so this win is very satisfying,” Rees said.
Hong Kong survived an early scare when Ben Gollings' Sri Lanka side pushed them to the brink in the quarter finals, before losing 17-12.
By finishing top two in the Asian rankings, Hong Kong and Japan are also assured of being seeded in different halves of the draw for next month’s Asian Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifier in Singapore, from which three Asian sides will qualify.
HSBC Asian Sevens Series standings:
1 Hong Kong
3 Chinese Taipei
6 Sri Lanka