One week to HSBC Sevens World Series kick-off

(IRB.COM) Friday 18 November 2011
 One week to HSBC Sevens World Series kick-off
The prize: The HSBC Sevens World Series trophy

One week remains until the kick-off of the HSBC Sevens World Series 2011/12 in Australia at the Gold Coast Sevens - Fever Pitch on 25-26 November.

The inaugural event at the Gold Coast is eagerly anticipated and begins an exciting triple-header of tournaments to bring in the new season. Round 1 in Australia will be followed by events in Dubai and South Africa on the next two weekends.

Defending Series champions New Zealand will top Pool A at the Gold Coast's Skilled Stadium and face a mouth-watering match against Fiji as well as further tests on day one from Kenya and qualifiers Niue.

Hosts Australia are drawn in Pool B, which is topped by last season's second-placed side South Africa. The two SANZAR giants also face USA and Japan.

Samoa were drawn top of Pool C and face group matches against Argentina, France and PNG.

England were drawn top of Pool D, where they face the two other British nations in the draw, Scotland and Wales, as well as Tonga.

Video: Switch on to the Sevens!

In the run-up to the start of the new Series the following quotes are available for use:

Gordon Tietjens, New Zealand coach - defending HSBC Sevens World Series champions

“The first tournament of the year is always exciting and I am pleased with the way the squad has come together and trained in the lead-up.

"The Gold Coast is a new stop on the Series and we are looking forward to starting our campaign off strongly there.”

Michael O’Connor, Australia coach - Tournament hosts

“We’ve had a solid preparation and introduced a number of new players to International Sevens. We were fortunate enough to have the tour to Samoa, in which we were able to blood 11 new players on the international stage and we feel that our pluses certainly outweigh the negatives leading into the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

“We’re very excited to be playing the first round of the Series at home and especially on the Gold Coast. Skilled Park is a perfectly boutique Sevens stadium. It should be a fantastic start to the season and I have no doubt it will certainly be a fantastic tournament now and in years to come.”

Paul Treu, South Africa coach - runners-up 2010/11 World Series

“One week to go and the squad cannot wait to get going, to finally get on the playing field. Although our full squad only assembled recently in Stellenbosch, many of them have been training individually since August so the guys are hungry to play. All of us realise that the opening three rounds are going to be very demanding and extremely challenging from a mental perspective, but we are looking forward to get the season underway at the Gold Coast.”

Beth Coalter, IRB Tournament Director

"The new pool draw format has thrown up some intriguing pool matches on day one at the Gold Coast Sevens - Fever Pitch and what better way to kick off the 13th Series.

"Good luck to all the teams and our thanks to the ARU and Queensland Government for making the event happen.

"This is another massive year for Sevens and by the time this Series ends in London, we'll all be entering the four-year cycle leading to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which is hugely exciting and promises to present a massive opportunity for the entire Rugby family.

Giles Morgan, Group Head of Sponsorship, HSBC Holdings plc

“This new season of the HSBC Sevens World Series looks set to be the most exciting yet. We have seen growth in the Series expanding to a new tournament this year, taking the total international destinations hosting a round of the Series now to nine. We have new homes for existing rounds of the Series in South Africa and Australia, and this season more than ever, the HSBC Sevens World Series will connect fans and players together from all over the world.”

Peter Friend, General Manager Sevens, ARU

"The Gold Coast Sevens – Fever Pitch will live up to its name on and off the Rugby field. This is the start of a new HSBC Sevens World Series. All 16 teams will be ready to size up the competition and take early points. Spectators will not only get to experience the entertainment the players will provide, but will also be able to enjoy music, entertainment and a true party atmosphere.

"After the announcement last weekend of the Gold Coast as the host of the 2018 Commonwealth Games what better way to celebrate than for the ARU to host the Gold Coast Sevens – Fever Pitch in partnership with Events Queensland, Gold Coast City Council, Lexus and HSBC as the sponsor of the HSBC Sevens World Series. This event will become a “must attend” event on the sporting calendar in the same way Hong Kong has been for many years."

Paul John, Wales coach

“Preparations have been going well. We went to Spain a week ago and were forced through injury to take a lot of players we hadn’t played before but it was a very pleasing exercise.

“We were able to play England, Scotland, France, Spain and Portugal which are all recognised as highly competitive international teams. We wanted the boys to get a taste for it before we step up onto the big stage next week.

“These players have put their hands up and have shown they are capable of playing at this standard.”

“Starting with three rounds is going to be tough. Two legs is hard enough the way sevens is played at the moment, it’s a very physical game."

Graham Shiel, Scotland coach
“Preparations have been very positive for us this season with the new strategy towards Sevens in Scottish Rugby. We have had regular access to our squad which has allowed us to spend more time together in advance of traveling.
“We are well aware of the challenges the HSBC Sevens World Series presents. As part of our preparation we have decided to travel early to Australia to try and overcome the challenges we face by the long journey, time change and significant change in temperature. We have had the benefit of spending three days recovering from the journey and this will hopefully allow us a smoother week of preparation in the lead up to competition.

“As ever we are looking to perform well on day one with a view to qualifying for the Cup competition on day two. We have a tough group containing England, Wales and Tonga, so we’ll have to perform to our potential to achieve this.”

Al Caravelli, USA coach

After competing in the Pan Am Games and taking a bronze medal for the USA, a huge experience for us, we're now setting our sights on the start of the HSBC Sevens World Series on the Gold Coast and are currently preparing at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.

"The Gold Coast brings even more excitement since it is a new city and, even though Australia has had a tournament in the past, moving it to a new city makes it feel brand new and the excitement builds.

"We also get the job of playing the hosts on day one, as well as South Africa and Japan - a pretty tough draw, but then they're all tough in Sevens."