The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU), the Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens (HKWRS) and the International Rugby Board (IRB) have announced that the HKWRS tournament will be staged as the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup Hong Kong this year following the success of the inaugural event in Dubai in December.
The Cup Final of the HKWRS has been played in the Hong Kong Stadium as part of the men’s Hong Kong Sevens since 1999, but given the expanded profile of this year’s women’s tournament, the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012 will host four matches of the IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup. The Plate Final will be played on Friday evening with the two Cup Semi Finals and the Cup Final played in between the Men’s matches on Saturday at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Following a captivating and highly-competitive debut in Dubai, the stars of the Women's Game from 12 leading international teams representing six continents will look to pick up where they left off in Dubai when Canada were crowned champions. Canada are also the reigning champions of the Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens 2011, defeating France in last year’s Cup Final.
Canada return to defend their title in the invitational event in Hong Kong, and are joined by Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 Champions Australia, England, USA, Netherlands, Russia, 2016 Olympic Games hosts Brazil, 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens Bowl champions China, Hong Kong, Japan, Tunisia and Spain, who are current European Women’s Sevens champions.
HKRFU Chairman Trevor Gregory commented on Hong Kong’s inclusion in the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup saying, “The HKRFU has been a long-time supporter of the Women’s Game, especially Sevens. We can think of no better way to mark the 15th anniversary of our Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens than its inclusion in the new IRB event and we are excited to provide an international platform for even more elite women’s rugby teams and matches at this year’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.”
Women's Rugby is one of the fastest growing forms of the sport and with the Rugby family counting down to Sevens' debut in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the 12-team competition on March 23 and 24 will provide exceptional competition for the teams and a high-octane spectacle for what promises to be a spectacular affair in Hong Kong.
"Women's Rugby is going from strength to strength," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset. "Participation is growing, interest is growing and the standard of elite competition has gone through the roof as we build towards Rugby Sevens' Olympic Games at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games."
The Hong Kong event is a key element in the delivery of the recently launched IRB Women’s Rugby Plan which has the staging of a world-class Women's Sevens event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at its core.
Ms Ruth Mitchell, Tournament Director for the Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens and the IRB Women’s Personality of the Year 2011 award winner and 2011 ARFU Women’s Personality of the Year award winner, commented on this latest exciting step in the continued advancement of Women’s Rugby in Hong Kong and Asia.
“Becoming a part of the new IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup is the ideal affirmation of the continued growth of Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens, and indeed Women’s Rugby throughout Asia. We are excited at the opportunity to pit some of our best Asian women’s teams against the world’s best in Hong Kong. This will be an invaluable opportunity to further prepare our elite women’s teams for qualification for the Olympic Games,” said Mitchell.
The Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens will be played from 08:30 to 17:00 on Friday, March 23, 2012, at the Hong Kong Football Club. Admission is free.
The Plate Final will be played as part of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens at the Hong Kong Stadium at 18:12 on Friday, March 23. The Cup Semi Finals will be played consecutively starting at 11:42 on Saturday, March 24 and the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup Final will be held at 16:50 on Saturday at the Hong Kong Stadium.