Thursday, October 29, 2009

Asia Sevens marches on, next stop Kota Kinabulu

Competitive new Series will be even tighter with inclusion of Malaysia
[Hong Kong, October 28 2009]: The Asian Rugby Sevens Series rolls into Malaysian Borneo this weekend. The Borneo Sevens is hosted by the Malaysian Rugby Union at the Likas Stadium in Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, on Saturday 31 October and Sunday 1 November, 2009. Borneo is the second ranking event on the Series after the Shanghai Sevens in September.
Borneo is the world’s third largest island and an important natural refuge for a tremendous array of plant and animal life including Orangutans, Asian Elephants, Sumatran Rhinoceros, and Bornean Clouded Leopards; the rugby action promises to be equally wild this weekend as 12 of Asia’s top sevens nations contest the final ranking event in the inaugural year of the series.
The success of the Shanghai Sevens in September proved the viability of an Asian sevens series concept as in China all of the top five teams were in with a strong chance of winning, producing a thrilling weekend of rugby. The Series has also been given a significant boost by the IOC's decision to include Sevens in the Olympic Games in 2016 and 2020.

In Borneo, the challenge will be even greater as the top teams from Shanghai return to action alongside a rampant Malaysian team that swept last weekend’s Brunei Sevens without a loss and is hitting peak form for their home event.
The participating teams in Borneo are Japan (1st seed), Hong Kong (2), China (3), Chinese Taipei (4), Korea (5), Malaysia (6), Thailand (7), Guam (8), India (9), Philippines (10), Brunei (11) and Indonesia (12). The seedings for Borneo are the same as those for the Shanghai Sevens and are based on the results from the Asian Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifiers in October 2008.
The teams have been grouped into three pools of four with a round robin pool round followed by knockout matches. The pools for Borneo see Japan, runners-up in Shanghai, squaring off against Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia in Pool A. Pool B is headed by Hong Kong, bronze medallists in Shanghai, with Korea, gold medal winners in Shanghai, Guam and Brunei. Pool C sees third seed China taking on fourth seed Chinese Taipei, India and the Philippines.
One of the key objectives of the Asian Rugby Sevens Series is to provide a sevens-specific ranking of Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) nations. This ranking will be used for future ARFU tournaments and multi-sport events when applicable and will be a major factor in identifying participating teams from Asia for IRB World Sevens Series events. In the first year of the Series only the Shanghai and Borneo Sevens have been awarded ranking status.
Asian Rugby Sevens Series rankings are based on 12-team tournaments. The rankings see the gold medal winners receive 12 points, silver medallists 11 points, bronze medalists ten points and so on down to the last placed team that receives one point.
Mr Jarrad Gallagher, IRB General Manager for Asia said, "The Series started with a bang and the interesting thing that came out of Shanghai was that there were five teams who could have won it. Right from the start it has been extremely competitive and now Malaysia has thrust itself into the mix in Brunei and represents an unknown quantity for the teams that played in Shanghai. We are expecting another exciting tournament this weekend in Borneo.”
"We've already got five events in 2009. Next year we'll have India knocking on the door with their test event for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, so we're providing a great platform for our Asian teams to have competitive matches on a regular basis. I believe that in the space of one or two years we will see a marked improvement.”

The Asian Rugby Sevens Series event at the Borneo Sevens will be played concurrently within a wider club based tournament that also features women’s rugby. Match results and photos will be distributed at end of day Malaysia Time.

About the Asian Rugby Sevens Series:
The Asian Rugby Sevens Series was launched in September 2009 with the first event being in Shanghai in September. Two of the five events on the inaugural calendar (Shanghai and Borneo) have been awarded official Rankings Status. The Asian Rugby Sevens Series is sanctioned by the Asian Rugby Football Union and International Rugby Board.
2009 Asian Rugby Sevens Series Schedule
Shanghai Sevens, China - September 12-13
Brunei Sevens - October 24-25
Borneo Sevens, Kota Kinabalu - October 31 - November 1
Kish Island Sevens, Iran - November 20-22
Sri Lanka Sevens, November 28-29

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