Series set for Kick-off in Kuala Lumpur as Malaysia Sevens Draw is Held
[Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 26 2013]: The Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) today announced the dates for the 2013 HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series (HSBC A7S), Asia’s premier regional sevens competition.
The official tournament draw for the Malaysia Sevens, the opening event on this year’s Series, was also held this afternoon in Kuala Lumpur and officiated by Mr Ross Mitchell, Honorary Secretary General of the Asian Rugby Football Union, Dato Wira Amiruddin Embi, President of the Malaysian Rugby Union and Abdul Sani, Head of Marketing Malaysia, of HSBC.
This year’s HSBC A7S continues the worldwide growth trend in sevens ahead of the sport’s debut in the Olympics in 2016. Most notably, the HSBC A7S has grown from the three ranking events of 2012 to four ranking events for 2013. The number of core teams, (those nations competing across every event on the series), has also increased from last year’s ten to 12, heralding a further improvement in the already-high competitive standard.
The core teams on the 2013 Series are defending champions Hong Kong, runners-up Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
The Series opens this weekend with the Malaysia Sevens, hosted by the Malaysia Rugby Union, and held for the first time in Kuala Lumpur after several successful tournaments in Borneo.
After Kuala Lumpur, Asian sevens action moves to the land of smiles for the Thailand Sevens in mid-September. The Thailand Sevens marks the largest ever HSBC A7S event with 28 teams participating, including 16 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams. The four men’s teams playing alongside the 12 core teams in Thailand are Cambodia, India, Laos and Uzbekistan, with Cambodia and Uzbekistan making their HSBC A7S debuts. The 12 women’s teams in Thailand are participating as part of the two-leg Asian Women’s Sevens Series with the other tournament being held once again in Pune, India.
After Thailand, the Series returns to Mumbai in October for the India Sevens at the legendary Bombay Gymkhana club. Fourteen teams will take part including the 12 core sides, hosts India and Iran.
The Series once again concludes in Singapore with November’s Singapore Sevens - this time granted full ranking status on the Series.
In Singapore, the 12-core teams will be concluding what should be another tight-wire series, (last year’s champions Hong Kong were better by runners-up Japan by only ½ of a point), as they chase more than just Asian bragging rights.
The top finisher on the Series will take comfort that they are leading the stakes for Asia’s sole men’s qualification spot for the 2016 Olympic Games, while the top finishers on this year’s HSBC A7S will again book coveted spots in the world-famous Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in March 2014.
All of the action kicks off in Kuala Lumpur this weekend with the Malaysia Sevens (August 31-1 September). The official tournament draw was held at today’s press conference.
The top four finishers from last year’s Series, Hong Kong, Japan, Chinese Taipei and China respectively, were seeded into the first row of the four pools with the remaining eight teams banded into two draw groups of four and drawn across the remaining spots.
Hong Kong tops Pool A with runners-up Japan in Pool D, China and Chinese Taipei are ranked as the top seeds in Pool B and Pool C accordingly.
Making matters more interesting in the opening tournament of the 2013 HSBC A7S is that the Malaysia Sevens falls in the same week as the 12th National Games in China, where rugby sevens is making its debut thanks to the sport’s new Olympic status.
As a result, two of the top four seeds, China and Hong Kong, will have the challenge of running two elite sevens squads in a simultaneous period.
The date clash has put extra pressure on Hong Kong’s small player base. Last season, Hong Kong used a core group of players led by Rowan Varty as they won their first-ever HSBC Asian Sevens crown.
“Last year we only used 14 players during the series, but now we will have to split our resources between the National Games and the opening tournament in Malaysia and both are equally important to us,” said Dai Rees, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union’s head of performance and coaching.
All teams know that a good start in Kuala Lumpur will give them much-needed momentum in the four-leg Series.
With the series being expanded to four legs this year, it will give teams a little more breathing space to come back from one bad result but Hong Kong will be hoping that they can still finish in the top-two in Malaysia even though several of their senior players are likely to be on duty at the China National Games.
“Winning a gold medal at the National Games will be important as it is the first time that rugby sevens is being played there – since it is now an Olympic sport – which means the result will carry a lot of weight among the Hong Kong Olympic Committee,” Rees said.
While Japan and Hong Kong are again expected to contest for the top spot, fierce opposition can be expected from South Korea, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, while the Malaysia Sevens can never be counted out on their home grounds at Petaling Jaya.
South Korea will be aiming to make a mark before the Asian Games, which they host in Incheon next year. In recent years the Koreans have failed to fire at sevens and have been a shadow of the sides that used to stun top teams with regularity at the Hong Kong Sevens in the late 90s.
“This series is really important to us as we look ahead to the Incheon Asian Games and good results will boost our preparation for that,” said Korean coach Park Ki Haeng.
The Philippines will hope the hard lessons learned at June’s World Cup Sevens in Moscow will pay dividends. The biggest hurdle facing them, however, is the availability of their leading players who ply their trade in Australia and Japan.
“It’s all about having a quality team for all four tournaments and that is what we are trying to do,” said Philippines coach Matt Cullen. “We are confident that if we put out our best side we can compete for a top-three finish in the series and this is our goal.”
Sri Lanka finished last season on a high on the 15-a-side front when they won the Division One tournament in the HSBC Asian Five Nations and was promoted to the Top Five in 2014.
But their sevens programme was put out of kilter by the sudden departure of their foreign coaches earlier this month leaving the squad rudderless. If they can get their act together, and if Ben Gollings is back again, the islanders can be a threat to any side.
Among the other sides capable of pulling an upset win on their day are Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Chinese-Taipei, the latter finishing a surprise third place in the series last year, earning them an invite to the Hong Kong Sevens for the first time since 2010.
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.
HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series 2013 Facts
Organiser: Asian Rugby Football Union
Title Sponsor: HSBC
Endorsing Body: International Rugby Board
Dates & Venue:
Tournament 1: Malaysia Sevens
Saturday August 31 – Sunday September 1, 2013
Petaling Jaya Stadium, Kuala Lumpur
Tournament 2: Thailand Sevens
Saturday September 21 – Sunday September 22, 2013
IPE Chonburi Main Stadium, Bang Saen
Tournament 3: India Sevens
Saturday October 12 – Sunday October 13, 2013
Bombay Gymkhana, Mumbai
Tournament 4: Singapore Sevens
Saturday November 9 – Sunday November 10, 2013
Yio Chu Kang Sports Complex, Singapore
Single Round Robin followed by playoffs
Series points will be awarded based on the final standings at each event.
Final Standings from the 2012 HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series
The PRFU have selected the players who will compete in the upcoming Asian Women's Rugby Sevens World Cup Qualifiers to be held on October 6 & 7, 2012.
Julie Ann Else
Mirasol Leiloha Linsteadt
Angella Camille San Juan
Rhea Manila Santos
Head Coach: Matt Cullen
Physiotherapist: Paula Alyssa Tomas
The countries participating include defending champions China, runners-up Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Japan, UAE, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Fiji, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Iran and hosts India.
The Lady Volcanoes will go against China, Thailand & Malaysia on the first day of competition.
The tournament will be held at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, India with the top 3 finishers winning a place in the Rugby Sevens World Cup which will be staged in Moscow, Russia in 2013.
The Globe 7s League kicked off on Saturday, August 4 at the Southern Plains Rugby Field. The new expanded tournament saw the inclusion of 15 men’s teams and 3 Women’s team with University of Makati (UMAK) and Quezon City Polytechnic University (QCPU) as the newest additions to the league.
The PRFU have been running Rugby development programs at both Universities since late 2011. After introducing Touch Rugby at the early stages of the program, the students of UMAK and QCPU graduated to playing 7s Rugby and have now stepped up into the Globe 7s League to play in the Bowl competition. Earlier this year the PRFU introduced 7s Touch Rugby at the ALCU University games and it is envisaged that the PRFU will start a University 7s League in 2013.
In wet conditions the Bowl teams started the day with the Tarsiers, UMAK, QCPU, Ibons and the Clark Rugby Club all travelling to the Southern Plains Rugby Club to start the new Globe 7 series that will run in two leagues until the end of October 2012.
The Clark Rugby Club, who were Silver Medal winners from the Philippine National Games, showed that they will again be a force to reckon with in the 7s arena and won their first two games finally losing their third game in a close battle to Bowl Favorites the Ibons.
One of the best games of the day was played between the two University teams, with the University of Makati winning the inaugural university challenge by 17 – 10 and also claiming the Bowl Division “Hardy’s Team of the Day" award.
The Plate Division was divided into two pools of 4 teams while the Women’s teams of Xena and Nomads played three games over the afternoon. The Men’s games saw the new team from the Eagles RFC, the Falcons, make an immediate impact at this level of competition. A second team, the Flamingos, was also formed on the day composed mostly of students from Adamson University who hail from Papua New Guinea.
The Eagles were the strongest team on the day with the Hapons and CBRE Mavericks playing out the closest game in the Plate Division with the Mavericks eventually winning the arm wrestle 7 – 5. The Women finished the day in very wet conditions with an exhilarating 0 – 0 draw the last round of games had to postponed as the heavens opened.
The second round of the Globe 7s League is on Saturday, August 18 at the Southern Plains Field, Silangan, Laguna.
Full list of the Globe 7s League Round 1 results.
Click on thumbnails to enlarge. All photos by Mark Cristino
The PRFU were delighted to be invited to the 2012 Philippine National Games(PNG) by the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee. The games were held at in Sta Cruz, Laguna and Governor Jorge “ER” Ejercito Estregan was extremely supportive to host the Rugby 7s event and showcase this Olympic sport to everyone at the newly renovated RECS Sports Stadium.
Eight Men’s teams and three women’s teams registered to compete for the inaugural Philippine National Games Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. The Men’s Division had the Eagles, Ibons, Bison/Tarsiers, Globe Immortals, MAAP Warriors, CBRE Vipers and Mavericks, Clark Rugby Club teams in competition, while the Women had Team Xena, MAAP Lady Warriors and Nomads.
It was an early start with the PRFU supplying a bus for the participants to make the three hour journey south. The sun was shining and temperatures soared to the high thirties as the teams took the field to play Rugby 7s in the aim of winning positions for the upcoming SEA Games, which will be held in Myanmar in 2013.
Rugby 7s is an exciting sport and promotes action, speed, agility and teamwork and is a perfect sport for any young Filipino athletes who enjoy the challenge of playing a dynamic contact sport. The PRFU restricted participation to the PNG Rugby 7s tournament to Filipino Heritage players only. It was exciting to see over 150 Filipino athletes take the field to compete to become the top Rugby 7s teams in the country.
The Men’s competition saw the teams do battle in a round robin format and then break into A and B Divisions for the finals. The Alabang Eagles were ranked the number one team entering the competition and they would have to face some formidable opponents in the top division. The semi finals were the Eagles against the newly formed CBRE Vipers, which the Eagles won to move through to the final.
In the other semi-final the young guns from Clark Rugby Club (CRC) who were all ex Bahay Bata orphanage players proved that size in Rugby 7s is not everything as they ran around their opponents displaying deft rugby skills and teamwork. Displaying excellent teamwork, the 16 – 18 year old Foundation players defeated their bigger and older opponents, the Globe Immortals, to set up a David and Goliath encounter in the Men’s A Division Gold Medal game.
On this occasion, it was the Eagles who proved too strong for their younger counterparts and they won the inaugural PNG Final by 29 – 5. The Eagles thoroughly deserved this win and have written their names in the history books as the first Men’s team to win a PNG Gold Medal in Rugby 7s.
The Men’s B Division Final was played between the MAAP Warriors and the newly formed Rugby 101 club the Bison-Tarsiers. It was a tribute to see the oldest Filipino Rugby Club, the MAAP Warriors play in this final, especially when they had travelled overnight all the way from Bataan. The MAAP Warriors had shown glimpses of brilliance throughout the round games and stalwart coaches Rick Hartley and Tony Shibley worked with the players to tighten up the defense for the final. This tactic certainly worked as MAAP ran out winners by 22 – 5. It was a great victory for the Warriors and is a tribute to the pioneer Filipino Rugby Club that they won their first ever PNG medal.
The Women’s Final was the best game of the day. Both the Nomads and Team Xena sides had several National Team players and this proved to be the ingredient for an exciting and competitive final. Both sides were locked at 7 all at the final siren and it wasn’t until National team legend, Manila Santos, broke through the Nomads’ defense in extra time to score a runaway try from 60m out. The Golden Point gave Team Xena the Women’s Division Gold Medal.
The PNG allowed the PRFU to showcase the growing sport of Rugby 7s and the Filipino athletes were extremely proud to compete to win National PSC medals. Rugby 7s is now played at the SEA, Asian and Olympic Games, and the PSC are looking to build further Rugby 7s programs to claim medals at these events.
The PRFU would like to thank the Philippine Sports Commission for the inviting Rugby 7s to be a sport at the 2012 Philippine National Games and Governor Jeorge “ER” Ejercito Estregan for hosting the tournament at the world class RECS Sports Stadium in Sta Cruz Laguna.
Both PSC Commissioner, Jolly Gomez (PSC Commissioner) and Governor ER attended the PNG awards ceremony and were delighted at the level of skill, participation and sportsmanship displayed by all the Filipino teams that played in the 2012 Rugby 7s Philippine National Games tournament.
Official PNG results that are registered with the Philippine Sports Commission for 2012:
Photo gallery (all photos on this page by Michael Fernandez)
The JML 15s League was in full swing at the Eagle's Nest in Silangan, with teams in the Bowl, Plate and Women’s Divisions all competing for places in the June 9th Finals. The Cup teams had a bye this weekend and the Alabang Eagles will fly to play the Cebu Dragons on Saturday June 2nd before the Philippine National Women’s team play an International game against Singapore.
The Women’s game will be the last lead up game before the Philippine National Women’s team plays in the Asian Women’s 15s Championships that will be held here in Manila from June 13 – 17th. Laos, Singapore and Thailand will all travel to the Philippines to play in the Asian Women’s Tournaments with games at Nomads Sports Club on Thursday June 14th and the Finals and Awards Ceremony at the Eagles Nest on Saturday June 16th.
Carabaos Win on the bell to move to the Plate Finals
The Carabaos came up against the Alabang Ibons at the Eagles' Nest and this game would decide the placings for the Plate Division finals on June 9th. The Ibons were definitely focused on beating the Carabaos after losing 33 – 31 after the final whistle when the Hapons converted a last minute try to snatch victory and the win.
The Ibons started poorly when they dropped the first ball of the game from the kick off. The Caraboas pounced on this opportunity to go straight on the attack in the Ibons territory. The Carabaos kept the ball tight and made several attacking raids at the Ibons line, utilizing their now recognized pick and drive techniques. The Ibons defense was relentless for the first five minutes of the game and they consistently stopped the large Carabaos forwards from scoring at the edge of the ruck. It wasn’t until the ball went wide to Jason Lock who scored in the corner to open the game and put the Carabaos on the front foot early in the game. The Ibons failed to regroup from the restart and found themselves under attack again on their own line. This time it was the Carabaos second rower Bradley Benton who charged over to score their second try in the first 10 minutes and take a 10 – 0 lead.
It wasn’t until the 15th minute of the game that the Ibons secured the ball and kicked for field position and were able to apply some pressure on the Carabaos defense. The Ibons strung together several attacking raids with Rupert Zappia finally scoring from a skillful backline move and converted the try to bring the Ibons back into the game at 10 – 7. The Ibons immediately fell into their own trap as they bundled their second kick off and this let the Carabaos pressure them into making mistakes that eventually led to a penalty that was converted by Daniel Melrose to take the lead to 13 - 7. The Carabaos seemed to drop their intensity and as soon as they did, David Carman sprang into life and made three decisive breaks that allowed the Ibons to score just before halftime through a sneaky dummy half try to Jaypee Paypon who darted from the base of a ruck and scored under the posts. The try was converted and the Ibons went into the halftime break with a narrow 14 – 13 lead.
The second half would prove to be just as even as the first and Rupert Zappia took advantage of some weak Carabaos defense when he scored his second try and the Ibons had the ascendency. All they had to do was play field possession and minimize their mistake rate to take out a victory. It was the Ibons lack of discipline at the ruck area that would lead to the next two penalties being converted by Dan Melrose to bring the game level at 19 – 19. The Ibons were their own worst enemy as they repeatedly gave away penalties for off side at the ruck which eventually led to two Ibons players being sin binned in the last 10 minutes of the game. The Ibons were on their own line and the Caraboas won another penalty and decided to take the scrum and punish the weakened Ibons forwards. The Caraboas pushed the Ibons into their own corner and it was Chris Anderson who dove over at no. 8 to score on the whistle and win the game for the Carabaos by 24 – 19. De ja vu for the Ibons, losing their second straight game at home on the whistle and they can only blame themselves for repeatedly infringing and allowing the Carabaos back into the game.
Maverick Vipers make in two from two wins heading into the Plate Final
The Bowl game saw a range of players take the field starting with the traditional rugby 101 teams which were both bolstered with National Underage Team players from ISM and BSM. The combination of enthusiasm from the 101 players and raw talent from the National underage players proved to be an effective recipe for a competitive game of 15s rugby. The game began at a blistering pace and it was Vipers number 8 Jason Lock who scored the opening try of the game when he beat three defenders to score out wide.
The game was certainly a struggle with both teams intent on winning the forward battle. The National Underage players marked up on each other on both sides with Tim Churchill, Jake Batuhan and Dan Melrose playing for the Bison/Tarsiers and Dan O'Reilly and AJ Brown playing for the Maverick Vipers. AJ Brown set up the challenge when he scored for the Vipers and was supported by last week’s MVP for the Mavericks Vipers, Charles Barthelemy who again showed that he is a player to watch in the future as he scored the Vipers third try to take a 17 – 0 lead into the halftime break.
The Bison Tarsiers were a different team in the second half and actually outscored the Vipers by 5 – 3, with Marc Patiag scoring the Bison’s only try and Dan Melrose kicking the only penalty goal for the game to end Maverick Vipers 20 defeating Bison Tarsiers 5. This means that the Maverick Vipers will again face the Bison-Tarsiers in the Plate Division final on June 9th.
Women’s Teams prepare for upcoming International Series
The Manila based women’s National Team players assembled at the Eagles Nest field to have an early training session and all the players will travel to Cebu this Thursday to prepare for an International 15s game against Singapore. This will be final hit out before the Philippine National Women’s Team host the Asian Women’s 15s tournament here in Manila on June 14 (Nomads) and June 16 (Eagles).
With half the National squad based in Cebu, 17 women turned out to play at Eagles on Saturday and the women played four quarters of 7s rugby. It was National Team player Rose Dela Cruz who stole the show in the first half by scoring two runaway tries. She was well supported by Jen Saldo from UMAK who showed she is definitely a prospect for the future with her deceptive speed as she ran the length of the field to score team Blues third try andtake a convincing halftime lead over the Red team by 17 – 0.
Acee San Juan played strongly at scrumhalf for the Blue team and constantly delivered quality ball to her speedy outside backs and scored a great solo try when she dummied from the base of a ruck and ran through to score under the posts. It was again the speedy youngster Jen Saldo who then scored the last two tries to see the Blue team win by 37 – 5.
The Women’s MVP for Saturday was Acee San Juan who was well supported by Cassie Umali and Manila Santos who will all feature in the upcoming International Series.
Plate MVP – Dan Melrose and Chris Httel
Bowl MVP – Dan O Reily
Women’s MVP – Acee San juan
Upcoming PRFU Events:
June 2, Cebu International School
Women’s International Series: Philippines v Singapore
JML Cup Division: Eagles v Cebu Dragons
ARFU Women's 15s: Teams: Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Thailand
June 14, Nomad Sports Club, Merville Paranaque (eliminations)
June 16, Eagles Nest, Silangan (finals & awards)
JML 15s League Finals and Awards presentation
June 9, Eagles Nest – Cup, Plate, Bowl and Women’s Finals
Philippine National Games
June 23, RECS Stadium, Sta Cruz Laguna
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