Draw held for Round III of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series in India

Draw held for Round III of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series in India

The Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) and Rugby India today held the official tournament draw for the India Sevens, the third and penultimate ranking event on the 2013 HSBC Asian Sevens Series (HSBC A7S).The India Sevens will be held from October 12-13 at the iconic Bombay Gymkhana club in Mumbai.

Officiating today’s draw were Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director and Head of Strategy and Planning for India of Asian Sevens Series title sponsors HSBC; Mr Pramod Khanna, President of Rugby India; Mr Darius Udwadia, President of the Bombay Gymkhana and Mr Trevor Gregory, Vice President of the Asian Rugby Football Union and Chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union.

Mr Pramod Khanna, President of Rugby India commented on the impending tournament at today’s official draw saying, “I am extremely happy that ARFU has expressed full confidence in the India Rugby Football Union by giving us the opportunity to host the Men’s and Women’s Asian Rugby Sevens tournaments for the second and third year respectively.

“The India Sevens is truly special as it is also being held at the Bombay Gymkhana grounds which is the cradle of Indian Rugby. With the confirmation that 16 Asian teams will participate, we are confident that we will deliver a great tournament for the teams and spectators.”

2013 marks the second hosting of the HSBC A7S in India after last year’s successful tournament, which served as the final ranking event of the 2012 Series. This year India is the penultimate event on the circuit with the Singapore Sevens (November 9-10) determining the final rankings for 2013.

The top two overall finishers from this year’s Series will earn automatic entry to a qualification tournament for full-time spots on the HSBC Sevens World Series (HSBC SWS). That tournament will be held at the world-famous Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in March 2014.

This year there are 12 core men’s teams, (those taking part in all four ranking tournaments), competing on the HSBC A7S, up from 10 last year. Those teams are Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Chinese Taipei, Singapore, China and the United Arab Emirates.

To date, the Series has been a repeat of 2012 with defending HSBC A7S champions Hong Kong and last year’s runners-up Japan running neck and neck in the stakes for Asian Sevens bragging rights.

But this year the results are reversed with Japan entering the India Sevens as the Series leaders. Japan beat Hong Kong in both finals to date on the Series with a 14-10 win over Hong Kong in the opening tournament in Malaysia at end August followed by a 17-12overtime win in the Thailand Sevens in September.

Those tight wins see Japan top the table on 24 points with Hong Kong one shy of the lead on 23 points. To date the Series has also seen South Korea and Sri Lanka in an arm wrestle for the third overall spot. Korea claimed the bronze medal by beating Sri Lanka in Malaysia, while Sri Lanka turned the tables in Thailand. The two teams are now tied third on 19 points followed by Thailand in fifth on 14 points.

For South Korea and Sri Lanka to have a chance at securing their place in the Hong Kong Sevens the teams will have to upset the current form book and hope that Japan and Hong Kong fail to reach the semi finals starting in Mumbai.

Both teams are capable of the feat with Korea winning the Shanghai Sevens for three years in a row from 2010 to 2012 while Sri Lanka has shown continual progress over the past two seasons.

Last year, Sri Lanka won the Bowl in Borneo and the Plate in Shanghai, Mumbai and Singapore.  This year they have reached their first cup semi finals in three years of ARFU sevens competition, reaching and then winning the bronze medal match in Malaysia and Thailand respectively.

Should either team reach and win a cup semi final it would be the first non Hong Kong v Japan final since the Shanghai Sevens last year.

Sixteen teams will take part in the India Sevens with the 12 core teams joined by the hosts, winners of the Shield championship on their 2013 debut earlier this month in Thailand, and invited regional teams Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.

Based on the results of the Thailand Sevens, the top four finishers have been pre-seeded into the pools. Japan as the top seeds are seeded first in Pool A, while second seeds Hong Kong are seeded into the first line of Pool D. Third seeds Sri Lanka are in the first line of Pool C, while fourth seeds South Korea are B1.

The remaining teams are banded by their table ranking after Thailand and were drawn to complete the pools from the following bands:

The fifth to eighth teams overall Philippines, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Malaysia were drawn into the second line of each pool, while the ninth to twelfth ranked teams, China, Chinese Taipei, Singapore and UAE were drawn into the third and final lines of each pool.

The hosts India and the three remaining invited teams were placed into a separate pool (Pool E) for day one in India and will complete a round robin competition before being ranked numbers 13-16 overall based on their performance.Those teams will then be slotted into the Bowl and Shield competitions for Sunday competing against the bottom four core teams.

These four teams have been drawn into their Round Robin competition already with India opening the tournament action against Afghanistan at 11.00am on Saturday, before facing Pakistan at 13.20 and Iran at 15.20 on day one.

Hosts India should have the advantage of recent sevens experience after being invited to the Thailand Sevens. India performed creditably in Thailand, beating t Uzbekistan (10:5), Cambodia (29:5) and Laos (14:5) to advance to the Bowl quarter finals, where they lost to 9th ranked Chinese Taipei (0:24). India was then relegated to the Shield semi-final where they beat Cambodia (26:5) to reach the final.  In the final, India upset HSBC A7S core team UAE winning handily 31-10 to take silverware from their debut outing.

India’s top scorer in Thailand was Sujai Lama with 40 points from four tries and four conversions. Surinder Singh notched 20 points from four tries, while Vikas Khatri added 15 points from three tries over the course of the tournament.

About HSBC and Rugby

HSBC is a long-term investor in Rugby in Asia and around the world. As well as being the title sponsor of the Sevens World Series, Asian 5 Nations and Asian Sevens Series, the bank is co-title sponsor of the Hong Kong Sevens from 2012. HSBC is the Principal Partner of all the Hong Kong rugby teams, and the British & Irish Lions, who played in Hong Kong in 2013 en route to Australia. The bank is also the title sponsor of the Waratahs Super 15 team in Australia, the Penguin International Coaching Academy and the Cobra 10s tournament in Malaysia.

Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU)

ARFU was founded in 1968 with eight member unions. In the past decade its membership has trebled to 28 full and associate member unions ranging from Kazakhstan in the north to Indonesia in the south and Lebanon in the west to Guam in the east. ARFU covers a territory of over 44 sq million kilometres and more than 3 billion people. ARFU is the sanctioning body for the HSBC Asian 5 Nations, which every four years acts as the qualifying event for the Rugby World Cup, and the HSBC Asian Sevens Series, which was held for the first time in 2011. ARFU also offers organized international competition for women and youth across Asia.