first_imgAs well as the sold-out 16-team HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 main event running across three days from Friday-Sunday, two qualifier events will also run parallel to the core competition.Twelve teams will battle it out in the men’s world series qualifier, with the winner taking the prestigious prize of core team status for 2019. The same applies in the women’s qualifier competition, played across Thursday and Friday, with a core team spot on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2019 up for grabs.In the men’s world series, reigning Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens champions Fiji will enter this year’s tournament chasing their fourth consecutive title. The Pacific Islanders have brought a star-studded squad to the competition as they look to leapfrog series leaders South Africa, who are just eight points ahead in the standings.  “For the Fijians this is one of the biggest tournaments that exists,” said coach Gareth Baber. “I’ve selected a squad to go and win both Hong Kong and the Commonwealth Games and we’re ready to compete at the highest level.”With a hotly anticipated Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco just over 100 days away, hosts USA will be aiming to make their mark in Hong Kong and build on their Cup-winning form in Las Vegas last month. “The competition is as intense as ever,” said USA coach Mike Friday. “Ultimately it’s about which teams delivers on the pitch in front of an electric atmosphere. When you get the opportunity to play in Hong Kong, you grab it with both hands.”Hosts Hong Kong will look to improve on their quarter-final exit from last year’s qualifying competition and captain Ben Rimene is hoping training with the likes of Fiji has got them set for the event.”We moved into the hotel yesterday and had training with Fiji last Saturday which has given us an idea of the level that’s required, so we’re settling in well,” he said. “We’ve done the training so we’re just fine tuning everything so we can get stuck in this Friday.”Playing in front of a home crowd there’s always going to be pressure, but we just have to take it as motivation and accept it, we know what’s expected. The crowd is always supportive no matter what the results are. We know they want a win and we’re hoping we can deliver that.”In the women’s qualifier, which will be played in the main stadium on Friday for the first time, Wales captain Philippa Tuttiett is excited by the challenge and prospect of core team status.”We’re focusing on ourselves going into this tournament, it may sound cliche but it’s down to our performance,” she said. “We’ve been building for this now for about two years, we’ve got a great set of players in a really challenging environment. As individuals we’re all world-class players we just have to bring it all together on the day and if we look after that we should enjoy the tournament.”last_img

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