The national Sevens (7s) rugby team was on Friday drawn in Pool E with Canada, Spain and Philippines for the HSBC Hong Kong leg of the IRB World 7s Series leg which takes place from March 23-25.
The Cheetahs, as the team is affectionately known, will be hard-pressed to impress to attain core team status on the IRB World 7s Series for next season.
Other teams vying for the three slots which guarantee core status on the series include Tonga, Uruguay, China and hosts Hong Kong, who are in Pool D and Portugal, Russia, Japan and Guyana in Pool F.
With the event doubling up in 2012 as the IRB World 7s Series core team qualifier, the renowned Hong Kong event will play host to two 12-team competitions played side by side at the 40 000 capacity venue.
The existing 12 core teams on the IRB World 7s Series will compete together, with all points earned from this competition going towards the World Series 2011-2012 table.
Those teams are Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, the United States and Wales.
The other competition features 12 teams from across the six IRB rugby regions, who will play for three additional core team places in the 2012-2013 World Series and were drawn into pools D, E and F.
According to a statement by the IRB, the top three teams emerging from this competition would earn automatic core team status and the right to participate in every event on the 2012-2013 HSBC Sevens World Series in an expanded 15-team core competitive format for next year’s international sevens circuit.
The Cheetahs used to take part in only three of the nine legs in Dubai, South Africa and Hong Kong before they received further invitations to Scotland and England — set for May.
Should the Cheetahs do well in Hong Kong, it could see them becoming a core team on the series, which means taking part in more tournaments in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.