The draw for the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier and the Asia Rugby Women’s Sevens Qualifier for the debut of Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year was held by the Hong Kong Rugby Union in Hong Kong on Thursday, with Taiwan facing huge odds to win through.
The qualifiers are to be held in Hong Kong on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 to decide which nation will take the single slots for Asia in the men’s and women’s competitions in Rio.
The women’s road to Rio is to be played over two legs, with the second weekend of action taking place in Japan later next month.
The draw was attended by former Hong Kong Olympic hockey representative Sarinder Dillon.
“As high-energy team sports, rugby and hockey share many values,” Dillon said. “Teammates spend so much time together training and playing, and form close, trusting relationships that are essential ingredients to winning.”
“To compete at the Olympic Games is the aspiration of every athlete,” he said. “My own experience is unforgettable. I was only 17, and to be among the world’s very best in all sports was simply marvellous.”
The draw gave the Hong Kong men’s side a favorable shot at making the Games, given that Japan and South Korea — who finished first and third respectively at the Asia Rugby Sevens Series — were placed in Pool A alongside Taiwan, China and Singapore, while Hong Kong line up against Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines and Iran.
Former Hong Kong player Andy Yuen said he is pleased with the men’s draw.
“Our pool looks to be the easier one, and so the first day will be a good chance to build up our momentum,” Yuen said.
“If we win the group, then we get the best deal in the semi-final and hopefully be through to the big match at the end, likely against Japan, South Korea or China,” he said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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