Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifying
Japan and Hong Kong book passage to RWC Sevens
Scrum.com
October 5, 2008
Hong Kong captain Andy Chambers in action in the Rugby World Cup 7s qualifying competition semi-final against Chinese Taipei in Hong Kong, October 5, 2008.
Hong Kong captain Andy Chambers in action in the semi-final against © Getty Images
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Hong Kong and Japan will be joining the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union as the three Asian men's sides at the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai.

Japan and Hong Kong advanced past China and Chinese Taipei respectively in today's semi-finals to reach the final of the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens Asian Qualifier held on October 4 and 5 2008 at the Hong Kong Football Club. The top two finishing teams in the 12-team Men's Tournament automatically qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens next March, where they will join the Arabian Gulf who automatically qualified as the host union.

Japan, the tournament's top seeds and reigning Asian Games Sevens champions beat China 24-0 to reach their fifth consecutive Rugby World Cup Sevens. Japan is the only Asian team to have qualified for every Rugby World Cup and every Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament since the inception of these global rugby championship events in 1987 and 1993 respectively.

In today's second semi-final, Hong Kong eased past Chinese Taipei 26-0 after a try-saving tackle from winger Rowan Varty in the opening minutes of the game. The spectacular chase and tackle on Hong Kong's try line sealed the momentum for the hometown side with Chinese Taipei rarely threatening to score afterwards in a game in which they were starved of possession.

A delighted Hong Kong coach Rodney McIntosh commented on the team's qualification for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009, saying, "This team has been on the verge for a long while. It's time for us to turn the corner and start taking the big scalps against the likes of [this year's Hong Kong Sevens competitors] Australia and France. The World Cup in Dubai will give us that chance."

The Arabian Gulf, Hong Kong and Japan will represent Asia in the fifth Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai from March 5-7, 2009.

Dubai 2009 also marks the rugby world's first ever Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens. Nine teams were competing for the three slots open to Asian teams next March, with the favourites being the Asian Women's Sevens champions Kazakhstan and China. Kazakhstan and China were picked to meet in today's final but Japan and Thailand, the tournament's other semi-finalists, upset the formbook today as Japan edged Kazakhstan 5-0 and Thailand pipped China 14-7.

The win by Japan concludes a very successful weekend for Japanese rugby as both teams qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens on the same weekend that the Japan Rugby Football Union announced their intention to bid for the Rugby World Cup 2015.

China and Kazakhstan will now meet in the third / fourth placed playoff of the women's tournament at 17.16pm (Hong Kong time). The Japan and Thailand Women's teams will meet in the first/second final at 17.38pm while Japan and Hong Kong meet in the final of the men's competition at 18.00pm (Hong Kong time).

RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS 2009 QUALIFIERS & QUALIFYING SCHEDULE:

Completed Qualifiers:

South America (CONSUR) Men's & Women's qualifiers - Punta del Este, 18-19 January 2008 Men: Argentina (direct qualifiers from RWC Sevens 2005) & Uruguay Women: Brazil

Europe (FIRA-AER) Men's qualifiers - Hannover, 12-13 July 2008; Women's qualifiers - Limoges, 14-15 June 2008 Men: England, France, Scotland (direct qualifiers from RWC Sevens 2005), Portugal, Wales, Ireland, Georgia & Italy Women: England, Netherlands, France, Russia, Spain & Italy

Oceania (FORU) Men's & Women's qualifiers - Samoa, 25-26 July 2008 Men: Fiji, New Zealand, Australia (direct qualifiers from RWC Sevens 2005), Samoa & Tonga Women: Australia & New Zealand

Africa (CAR) Women's - Uganda, 20-21 September 2008 Women: South Africa & Uganda

Asia (ARFU) Men's & Women's qualifiers - Hong Kong, 4-5 October Men: Japan & Hong Kong (Arabian Gulf qualify as Host Union) Women: Japan, Thailand & China

Upcoming Qualifiers: Africa (CAR) Men's - Tunisia, 31 October-1 November ; - Three men's teams to qualify (South Africa direct qualifier from RWC Sevens 2005)

North America (NAWIRA) Men's & Women's qualifiers - Bahamas, 25-26 October 2008 - Two men's teams to qualify - Two women's teams to qualify

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