Hong Kong defeat Japan to win Mumbai Sevens Rugby Series

Published: Oct 17, 2012, 16:37 IST | Jaideep Vaidya |

Hong Kong made an example of Japan, the numero uno rugby team in Asia, with a scoreline of 28-7 to win the Mumbai Sevens - the third and final ranking event of the 2012 HSBC Asian Sevens Series at the Bombay Gymkhana yesterday. The victory gave Hong Kong their first ever Asian Sevens series title, meaning they have gained an automatic entry into the IRB London Sevens in December.

Earlier, favourites Hong Kong delighted the spectators with superior play throughout the tournament and had gained quite a few new fans during the course of these two days. The historic Bombay Gymkhana pavilion was packed with members cheering Hong Kong on after hosts India were beaten by Iran 22-7 in their Shield semi-final.

Members and spectators were seen enjoying the rugby game along with a few pints and some snacks.

Viraf Mehta (30), a member, said: “You don’t get to see this level of rugby in India so it’s fantastic! I think the members loved it! A lot of them came over with their families which shows that the spirit of rugby is really high here.”

Hong Kong’s captain, Rowan Varty (26), was full of praise for the support and the culture of Mumbai. “I thought the atmosphere was great,” he said.

“We’ve come from Hong Kong where there are a lot of big flashy buildings, but not a real culture like this. There was a lot of culture in the city for many of us who were coming to India for the first time. We’re looking forward to coming back. The crowd support and atmosphere here was fantastic. India is not known as a Rugby country but it’s definitely a sports country. They love sport, they love cheering for the home team, they love cheering for anything! It was really great for us and we enjoyed every minute of it.”

Hosts India, in their Asian Rugby Sevens debut finished 14th after losing 7-22 to Iran in the Shield final. Earlier, they beat neighbours Pakistan 43-0 in the Shield semi-final. This was after China thrashed the hosts 38-5 in the Bowl quarter-final in the morning.

Along with Hong Kong, runners up Japan and third-placed Chinese Taipei have gained a direct entry into next year’s Hong Kong Sevens which serves as the qualifier for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow.

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