With their place in the Grand Final in Madrid already assured, HSBC SVNS 2024 leaders Argentina will be going all out to secure top spot in the standings by claiming their first Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens title this weekend.

Argentina can become the men’s SVNS 2024 League Winners with a tournament to spare if they maintain their 20-point lead at the top of the standings. But to do so, they need to firstly, perform better than they did in finishing fifth at the last tournament in Los Angeles at the start of March and secondly, defy Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens history.

Los Pumas Sevens have never won in Hong Kong before and the closest they have come to lifting the famous trophy was when they reached the final some two decades ago, losing 24-12 to England. Pablo Gómez Cora, the older brother of current head coach Santiago Gómez Cora, played in that final.

Hoping to add to the tournament titles they have already won in Cape Town, Perth and Vancouver, to maintain that 20-point cushion over Ireland, Argentina have headed to Asia with a settled squad that shows just one change from Los Angeles. Alfonso Latorre is back in the 13-man group for his third tournament appearance, replacing Santiago Alvarez.

In Marcos Moneta, Argentina boast the top points and try scorer on the series, the former World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year (2021) having crossed the opposition line 29 times, as well as the most seasoned performer in centurion Garston Revol, who extends his record number of tournament appearances to 104 this weekend.

USA boosted by return of trio

Argentina are in Pool B alongside New Zealand, USA and Great Britain and open their campaign in the third match of the opening day on Friday against the Men’s Eagles Sevens, kick-off 12:48 local time (GMT+8).

USA have Maceo Brown and Faitala Talapusi in their ranks for the first time this season, while Pita Vi is set for his first outing since Dubai and Cape Town.

Mike Friday’s team fell short of expectations on home soil in Los Angeles, their tally of six points only just about keeping them in the top eight. It followed their season’s best finish of fourth in the previous tournament in Vancouver.


USA arrived in Hong Kong one point above the relegation play-off places with Friday hoping for an uplift in performance this weekend.

“We realise and recognise the physical nature of the group and the challenge we face to progress in this tournament. We have reflected on the areas we did well in at Vancouver and LA and there were a lot of positive plays on both sides of the ball,” he said.

“We will look to build on this foundation and seek to bring a little more accuracy and consistency to some specific skill elements and tactical execution so we can control the momentum shifts into our favour, as that is ultimately the difference between winning and losing in every game.”

Reigning world series champions New Zealand have been off the pace for most of this SVNS campaign and currently languish in sixth place, 37 points behind Los Pumas Sevens. But the competition’s new format rewards teams that can hit form when it matters most and new coach Tomasi Cama will be hoping that the New Zealand team that won silver in Vancouver will turn up in Hong Kong, not the one that came 10th in Los Angeles.

SVNS veteran Dylan Collier is back from injury and will be looking to hoist the Hong Kong trophy aloft as he did last year.

“I’ve played the most tournaments here in my team. I think this is my sixth time here and I’ve only actually won it once,” Collier told RugbyPass after the captain’s photo at Hong Kong Stadium on Wednesday.

“It’s a hard tournament to win. There’s not a lot of teams that have won here.

“It’s just a different feeling when you win here, just all that history. This is where the game of sevens started.

“We’re pretty confident coming into this weekend and there’s a lot of boys really wanting to rip in and play well.”

Collier is joined in the squad by another half-centurion in Regan Ware, but Sam Dickson is one notable absentee in a group showing four changes from Los Angeles. Tong Ng Shiu and Moses Leo are the other new faces.

In addition to Dickson, World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year 2023 nominees Leroy Carter and Akuila Rokolisoa have also been ruled out, as has veteran Tim Mikkelson.

The All Blacks Sevens start against Great Britain, with a kick-off time of 13:11 local time.

Max McFarland for Austin Emens is the only change to the Great Britain squad with the Scotsman making his 40th appearance on the world series.

Ireland without Conroy and Dardis

Argentina’s nearest challengers Ireland are in Pool C with two sides in the regelation play-off zone in Samoa and Spain and another team in South Africa whose place in the top eight is not yet certain.

James Topping’s side secured their second podium finish in three SVNS series events by taking bronze in Los Angeles and captain Harry McNulty made it into the LA Sevens Dream Team.

“We’ve kind of prided ourselves on being a podium team this year,” said Ireland men’s leading try scorer Jordan Conroy, who sits out this weekend, “and having managed to get two third places reflects on how hard we’ve worked, in pre-season, and the last couple of months.

“It’s exciting to see what’s ahead, it just drives us on to get better, and hopefully get a gold in the future, be it in the sevens series, or the Olympics. Consistency is something we’re priding ourselves on too.”

Billy Dardis, another key member of the team that secured world series qualification in Hong Kong in 2019, is also missing from the Ireland roster.

Ireland’s first encounter is against the Blitzboks, who have a new interim head coach in Philip Snyman.

It is hoped that Snyman, who will hold the job until July, will get an under-performing Blitzboks team firing in time to secure their place in HSBC SVNS 2025 and at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

Having stepped up from his previous role as assistant, Snyman has selected a squad showing four changes of personnel.

Christie Grobbelaar, Ronald Brown, Dewald Human and Quewin Nortje were all absent on the recent North American leg, but are back in the Blitzbok mix for the crucial stop in south-east Asia, where the team will try to arrest their recent slump in form.

Grobbelaar picked up an injury in the season-opener in Dubai last year and has not featured since, while Human is also back for the first time this year after last playing in Cape Town in December. Brown and Nortje were injured in Perth and missed the trip to Canada and the USA.

Two members of the team that played in Los Angeles, David Brits and Rosko Specman, were ruled out after picking up injuries at training recently, while Tristan Leyds and James Murphy were overlooked.

It is Spain and Samoa, though, that have the honour of getting proceedings underway in the first match of the day, kicking off 11:16 local time. Big points in Hong Kong would boost the teams’ chances of still being in the mix to avoid the relegation play-off when HSBC SVNS 2024 rolls into Singapore for the final stop on the regular series, on 3-5 May.

Muliagatele Fata Brian Lima has made four changes to his Samoa squad, with Jeff levy set to make his debut. Additionally, the team welcomes back Tuna Tuitama, Malakesi Masefau and Paul Eti Alesana-Slater.

Spain have also made four changes and will be without Juan Ramos, their leading points scorer this season.

Hooper debuts, Ravouvou returns

With three of the top five teams in the world and a Canadian outfit fighting for their lives at the foot of the standings, Pool A should be fiercely competitive.

Fiji take on Australia in a third versus fifth encounter, kick off 17:30 local time, while Los Angeles winners France’s game against Canada follows straight after.

Flying Fijians history is interwoven with the Hong Kong Sevens, an event they have won a record 19 times.

New head coach Osea Kolinisau has chosen a squad laden with talent for his first tournament in charge, including the addition of Olympic gold medallist Vatemo Ravouvou.

Manueli Maisamoa and Rubeni Kabu also return after missing the last three tournaments, while Joji Nasova is in line to make his debut.

 “We’ve had rigorous training over the past two weeks to ensure the boys are primed for this crucial leg of the series,” said Kolinisau.

“Their competitiveness and determination in training are evident, and they’re highly motivated.”

The headline news coming out of the Australian camp is, of course, the inclusion of the Wallabies’ third most-capped player, Michael Hooper.

Hooper, a veteran of 125 tests, finally gets a chance to stake a claim for a place in Australia’s Olympic Games Paris 2024 squad after a frustrating injury delay to his embryonic sevens career.

His inclusion is one of two changes made by coach John Manenti with Maurice Longbottom also returning from a calf injury in another major boost for a side that only picked up 11 points across the two North American legs.

“We’re really excited about heading back to Hong Kong, where we have had some recent success,” Manenti said, maintaining an upbeat tone.

“Our performances in LA were some of our best this season and we have the opportunity be better again next week.

“We welcome back Maurice Longbottom, who will add some spark in the midfield and for the first time we’ll get to see Michael Hooper in an Australian Sevens jersey.

“‘Hoops’ has worked hard to make his way into the squad, and we’re all delighted to welcome the ‘rookie’ into the mix.

“Like any new player it will be a learning experience for him, and an important start point to a potential Paris Olympics.

“Every pool is tough and ours is no exception with Fiji first up and then Los Angeles winners France to kick off day one action. We’ll need to be at our best.”

Inspired by Antoine Dupont, France have taken 36 points from the last two tournaments and will be looking to back that up in Hong Kong, where they have never made the final before.

However, the little maestro, who has shown Hooper how to transition to sevens from 15s, is temporarily back with his club side Toulouse and won’t play this weekend.

It is one of three changes to Les Bleus’ squad for Hong Kong, with Dupont’s absence offset by the return of record appearance holder Jonathan Laugel.

France’s first opponents Canada have handed debuts to three players, Jack McCarthy, Jesse Kilgour and Morgan Di Nardo, while D'Shawn Bowen returns to international sevens competition for the first time since last January after spending 2023 with the Toronto Arrows.