The Hong Kong Rugby Union dominated the arrivals hall at Nadi International Airport today (Monday).

Three national teams - men's, women's and youth - have descended on Fiji for the eighth annual Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens which starts on Wednesday.

The men's team are drawn in a pool with three powerful local teams Ratu Filise, Tovolea and McDonald's Saunaka, who they lost to in the semi final of the Bowl last year.

"The interest from overseas teams adds further opportunity for local players to be exposed to high level 7s rugby," said founding chairman Jay Whyte. "It will be a great experience for local players to be able to play against national teams from overseas."

Hong Kong women play Snax Nadi Aviators and Striders while the youth team faces Northern Spirit, Nailaga and Ra Barbarians. Both teams are making their first visit to Sigatoka

A Japanese national women's development team arrives tomorrow for their second tilt at the Crest Na Iri Trophy while USA Stars, an invitational club, is fielding two teams - men's and women's - in the Coral Coast Sevens.

"USA Stars 7s team is thrilled to be making our debut at the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast 7s," said team manager Elizabeth Entwhistle. "Our team has players and coaches hailing from Fiji and it has been a dream destination for us given the hospitality, the friendliness, and the quality of rugby in the islands."

Media from all three nations will be at Lawaqa Park with Tourism Fiji supporting rugby journalists Sam Agars, Rich Freeman and Brian Hightower, as well as New Zealander Peter White, to the tournament.


Ambassador DJ Forbes, the former New Zealand Sevens captain, referee Rasta Rasivhenge, 'the Maestro' Waisale Serevi and Olympic-winning coach Ben Ryan are all guests of the tournament.

"When DJ announced his retirement, we thought it would be a great opportunity to invite him to Fiji to be the ambassador for the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens," said Whyte. "We will unveil his plaque on the Rugbytown walk of fame alongside the likes of David Campese, Waisale Serevi, Jonah Lomu and George Gregan.

"We also welcome the return home of Ratu Peni Rayani to spend time at the tournament. Rasta Rasivhenge is coming back for the second time and we also have Serevi coming back."

In total 24 youth, 16 men's and nine women's teams square off at Lawaqa Park over four days with the Uprising Youth 7s kicking off the action on Wednesday.

For the second consecutive year the tournament offers free entry to spectators.

The Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens is sponsored by MANA Whey Protein, Crest, Tourism Fiji, Sigatoka River Safari, Uprising Fiji Beach Resort, Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, Shangri-la's Fijian Resort & Spa, CFL, Fiji Times, Fiji TV, Vodafone, McDonald's, Gecko's Resort, Bedarra Beach Inn, BLK, Mana Graphix, GO Advertising, Airports Fiji Ltd, Hot Glass Fiji, Sports Now, Tappoo, Quality Print, Bula Car Rentals, Du Aull Services, Pacific Destinations, Sun Insurance, Ben Slater and Aqua Pacific.

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