The Springbok Sevens will face New Zealand, Wales and the USA in Pool B of the Hong Kong Sevens.
The Hong Kong tournament (23-25 March) will have two major prizes this year. While the top countries will be vying for the Cup title, the smaller nations will be able to secure ‘core team’ status as the World Series will increase from the so-called 12 ‘core’ sides to 15 next season.
There will be two divisions, with Pool A, B and C featuring the top 12 teams. Pool D, E and F will see 12 minnow teams fight it out for regular sevens participation from the 2012-13 campaign.
The Blitzboks will be aiming for a successful run after disappointing results at the Las Vegas Sevens (fourth place) and Wellington Sevens (fifth place). They now trail overall log leaders New Zealand (92 points) and Fiji (87 points) in third place with 76 points. England follow closely behind on 74.
‘All the teams will be out to raise their game in Hong Kong. It is a unique venue and has a special atmosphere and it will therefore pose a different mental approach. We are in a really tough pool. New Zealand are the series leaders and last week in Las Vegas they came within seconds of winning their third consecutive tournament of the season,’ said Springbok Sevens head coach Paul Treu.
‘Wales are the Sevens World Cup winners and have improved steadily since then. They recently showed against Fiji what they are capable of, so they will be a huge challenge for us, and the USA are always very difficult because of their competitive nature. I’ve said a while ago that there are no more easy pool matches. The new seeding system and points on offer have changed the complexity of the series completely, so we are fully aware that we will have to be switched on from the first whistle on day one.’
Competition 1 – 2011-12 Core teams (Cup, Plate, Bowl):
Pool A – Samoa, England, Argentina, Kenya
Pool B – New Zealand, South Africa, Wales, United States
Pool C – Fiji, Australia, France, Scotland
Competition 2 – Core team qualifier, 2012-13 World Series:
Pool D – Tonga, Uruguay, Hong Kong, China
Pool E – Canada, Spain, Zimbabwe, Philippines
Pool F – Portugal, Russia, Japan, Guyana