Asian nations roll out coaching big guns as Ben Gollings and Al Caravelli take reins of Sri Lanka and Philippines for 2012 Series
Japan and Hong Kong will begin as favourites to finish top of the pile when the HSBC Asian Sevens Series (HSBC A7s) kicks off with the Borneo Sevens in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday (September 1). With three spots at the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 at stake, all of the top contenders have doubled down on their efforts to secure a spot in Moscow.
Asian powerhouse Japan, who finished ranked number one last season, and runners-up Hong Kong are once again fancied to be at the helm of a bigger and better HSBC A7s series - expanded to three ranking events this season with the Mumbai Sevens joining the Borneo Sevens and the Shanghai Sevens. The fourth event on this year’s HSBC Asian Sevens Series will be held in Singapore.
Adding another dimension this season is the fact that the series rankings after Mumbai will serve to decide the seedings for the fourth and final HSBC A7s event in 2012, the Singapore Sevens in November, which will also play host to the Rugby World Cup Sevens Asian qualifiers. This has resulted in all three ranking tournaments drawing a record 10 core teams in 2012 making the competition even tougher.
“We will be focusing on one match at a time. In recent years the level of all Asian countries has increased dramatically and we know that in sevens anything can happen. So we will have to be at our best consistently,” said Japan’s new coach Tomohiro Segawa.
Japan will retain four members of the squad which figured in last year’s HSBC World Series – Yusaku Kuwazuru, Katsuyuki Sakai, Kazushi Hano and Lote Tuqiri – and will be led by half-back Koji Wada, a member of the 2010 Asian Games gold medal-winning team.
But the players to watch could be twins Kenichi and Shinichi Yokoyama who turn out for Ricoh Black Rams in the Japan Top League and come highly rated by coach Segawa.
Segawa didn’t beat around the bush when he said “our first goal is to retain our title as Asian champions and to secure one of three spots for Asia at the World Cup Sevens in Moscow next year”.
But Japan’s long-term goal is also to qualify for the HSBC World Sevens Series, something they failed to achieve at the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens last year which decided the three new core teams for the forthcoming season.
“At the moment there are no teams from Asia among the 15 core teams. This is why we must qualify for the World Cup as it will give us an opportunity to play against the big teams,” Segawa said.
Hong Kong has only one new face in the 12-strong squad for the opening leg in Borneo. Towering forward Eniola Gesinde will make his debut in a team packed with familiar faces including skipper Rowan Varty, Salom Yiu, Tsang Hing Hung, Ant Haynes, Simon Leung and the McQueen brothers, Tom and Alex.
“It will be the toughest HSBC Asian Sevens Series ever,” warned Hong Kong coach Dai Rees. “Our focus is on finishing in the top two in the series and also qualifying for the World Cup.”
Japan and Hong Kong will be pressed all the way by a resurgent South Korea – who finished second to Japan in the 15-a-side HSBC Asian Five Nations – the Philippines and China. Other teams who can be a threat on the day include hosts Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Former USA Sevens coach Al Caravelli has taken over the coaching mantle in the Philippines and will be hoping his new charges can repeat last season’s heroic performance where they finished ranked tied third.
“With World Cup places on the line every country will be sending out their strongest teams. This will make all games very competitive and a top three finish will be difficult. We expect Japan, Hong Kong and China to continue their dominance and also Korea should challenge for a top three spot,” Caravelli said.
The Volcanoes have retained the bulk of their squad from last year and will rely heavily on the experience of players like Harry Morris, Andrew Wolff and Kenneth Stern. The Philippines has never qualified for a World Cup and will be determined to make a mark in Moscow.
“This is a unique opportunity to put the country on the world stage and it will help local development immensely,” Caravelli said.
Another well-known face on the international circuit that will be around is former England sevens captain and HSBC Sevens World Series all-time leading points scorer Ben Gollings who is coach of Sri Lanka, having stepped into the vacancy left by Phil Greening who was appointed coach of Scotland recently.
The presence of Gollings will infuse new confidence amongst Sri Lanka who are capable of pulling the rug from under the feet of more fancied teams on their day.
The HSBC Asian Sevens Series’ Borneo Sevens is again featuring elite women’s rugby action in the Asia Pacific Women’s Sevens championship which begins today, (August 31), with the finals on Sunday (September 2).
For information on ARFU and the HSBC A7s, contact Sean Moore (+852 9092 8889), firstname.lastname@example.org
Philippines draw toughest pool
The tournament draw for the Borneo Sevens, the opening event of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012, has been announced.
The 12 participating teams were banded based on their final standings from last year’s HSBC Asian Sevens Series (HSBC A7s). The tournament format features four pools of three teams each with all pool matches held on Saturday and straight knock-out matches played on Sunday.
The top four teams from last year’s HSBC A7s, Japan (Series and Borneo Champions), runners-up Hong Kong, China and the Philippines were drawn as the top seeds in the four pools.
The Philippines, who finished tied-3rd on last year’s Series, have been drawn into Pool A, alongside fellow joint-3rd finishers from last year, South Korea, creating the toughest pool on paper for this year’s Borneo Sevens. Singapore, unranked after last year’s Series, have been slotted in at 12th overall and were drawn as the third seeds in Pool A.
Pool B sees HSBC A7s 2011 runners-up Hong Kong atop another tough group with hosts Malaysia, plate runners-up last year in Borneo, and Dubai Sevens veterans the United Arab Emirates who upset Korea last year in Borneo.
Defending Borneo Sevens and HSBC Asian Sevens Series champions Japan were drawn as the top team in Pool C along with second seeds Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka.
China, under new head coach and former China sevens captain Zhang Zhiqiang top Pool D alongside a physical Kazakhstan seven and a speedy Thailand team which could make things challenging for the pool leaders.
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Festival of Rugby in Borneo includes Asia Pacific Women’s Sevens Championship, Schools Rugby and HSBC ARFU Coaching Tour
Meanwhile, the draw for the 10-team Asia Pacific Women’s Sevens Championship (Aug 31-Sep 2) was also held, as defending champions Papua New Guinea return to defend their title against eight Asian women’s teams and Australia, the reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens Women’s Champions (Dubai 2009).
Eight Asian teams are participating in 2012: Asian Sevens champions China, Asian 15s champions Kazakhstan, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chinese Taipei and South Korea. Defending champions Papua New Guinea are also taking part along with defending women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens champions (Dubai 2009) Australia.
The rankings for the two pools of five teams each in the tournament were taken from the results of the 2011 Asian Championships in Pune, India with China ranked number one overall in Pool A and Asia’s second-ranked women’s sevens team, Kazakhstan, as the top seeds in Pool B.
Pool matches will be held on Friday (August 31) and Saturday (Sep 1) with the first round of knock-out matches taking place at the end of day on Saturday. The Asia Pacific Women’s Sevens will present an ideal hit-out ahead of the 2012 Asian Women’s Sevens Championships (again in Pune in October), which will also serve as the Asian women’s rugby sevens qualifier for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2013.
The enticing combination of elite men’s and women’s sevens is rounded out this weekend in a festival of rugby at the Likas Stadium in Borneo as the HSBC ARFU Grassroots Coaching Tour returns to Malaysia with a week-long schedule of clinics for over 1,500 local youth, many of whom are new to rugby. The clinics are being run in association with the Malaysian Rugby Union and the local Department of Education. Participants from this week’s clinics will also participate in sessions held during the tournament on the Saturday of the Borneo Sevens at Likas Stadium. An U16 Schools tournament will also be held over the weekend. The Borneo Sevens/Asia Pacific Women’s Sevens Championships will be held from Friday to Sunday (Aug 31-Sep 2) at Likas Stadium. Admission to all matches is free.
For information on ARFU and the HSBC A7s, contact Sean Moore (+852 9092 8889), email@example.com
The Philippine Rugby Football Union have selected the team to compete in the Borneo Sevens tournament on August 31 to September 2, 2012 in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
Philippine National Men's 7s Team - Borneo Sevens
Coach: Al Caravelli
Asst Coach/Manager: Expo Mejia
Physiotherapist: Rico Barin
The Borneo Sevens kicks off the 2012 HSBC Asian Sevens Series, followed by Shanghai and Mumbai. The final leg in Singapore is the International Rugby Board's Asian qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013.
The Volcanoes finished last year's Borneo Sevens tournament in second place behind Japan, giving the Philippines an year-end ranking of third in Asia, tied with China and South Korea. Rugby powers Japan and Hong Kong are ranked first and second, respectively.
The other nine nations that make up the 10 core teams (teams competing in all four tournaments) with the Philippines are China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The rankings from the Borneo, Shanghai and Mumbai events will determine the seeding for the Singapore Sevens and Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifier. The top three finalists from the HSBC Asian 7s’ Singapore Sevens will qualify for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow.
1. Matt Bellenie
2. Masayuki Sekiguchi
3. Nick Treweeke
4. Dino Gonzalez
5. Dave Feeney
6. Evans Atandi
7. Darran Seeto (c)
8. Chris Anderson
9. Soonil Park
10. Christian Desacola
11. Brendan Varden
12. Jon Morales (vc)
13. Jovan Masalunga
14. Homer Bangay
15. Chris Everingham
16. Sean Munday
17. Phil Sinclair
18. Josh Inong
19. Tim Kong
20. Aaron Briddon
21. Sam Fogg
22. Paulo Jordan
23. Byran De Leon
Injured: Graeme Hagan, Rupert Zappia, Tim Bweheni, Kit Guerra
Unavailable: Chris Hettel, Glen Denton, Jon Odulio, Danny Williams, Cleo Gomez
Kick off is at 3:30pm. The match will be preceded by Round 3 of the Globe 7s League which will be played from 10:30am to 2:00pm.
All games will be played at the Southern Plains Field in Silangan, Laguna. Admission is free.
Map to the venue:
The PRFU will be holding the National Underage try outs for the u14, u16 and u18 teams this Sunday at the British School Manila from 1pm - 5pm.
Any players who are turning either 14, 16 and 18 in 2012 can attend these trials.
The Philippine National Underage Teams will play International Games in October (u14 and u16) against Hong Kong and then the u18s will attend the Asian Championships in Taiwan from November 10 - 18th.
Players who wish to play in one of the above National Underage teams MUST attend the National Team trials this Sunday and register to play. Team Coaches and Managers will be present at the British School at 12.30pm to start the registration process.
Players must bring rugby kit for full contact games and training.
Parents are also encouraged to attend the trials and players will be informed about further trials and training sessions at the try outs this Sunday.
Below is a map to the British School Manila field.
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