IRB insist Hong Kong 7s will go ahead
March 21, 2003

The prestigious Hong Kong Sevens tournament looks certain to go ahead as planned next weekend, despite Italy and France withdrawing their teams.

Both countries have pulled out after taking medical advice about a major virus that has been circulating in the region.

But the International Rugby Board today revealed that the remaining 22 competing nations, including defending champions England, have confirmed their travel arrangements.

An IRB spokesperson added that other countries had been approached about filling the two vacancies, and that an announcement was imminent.

England today confirmed that they intend travelling as planned, as they look to defend a title they won in scintillating fashion last year.

But the French and Italians will not be there, although neither side would have had a realistic chance of contesting the top prize.

"Our decision is not linked to the war, or any problem with security we could have there," said Bruno Kaufman, communications director of the French Rugby Federation.

"It is because of the threat of the contamination of a potential epidemic, and we want to avoid any risks."

The Italians are also acting on medical advice, and believe that the risk factor is such that they cannot afford to take a chance.

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