The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has
unveiled the men’s and women’s sevens squads that will compete in
Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and the
IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup Hong Kong.
While both squads enter an intense period of
competition with experienced sides, the traditional March rugby
landscape has changed dramatically as both tournaments mark new
formats in 2012.
This year, the HKRFU Men’s Sevens team is
competing in the HSBC Sevens World Series (HSBC SWS) Qualifier
portion of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. By finishing
in the top three teams of this competition, Hong Kong would
qualify as a core team on next year’s HSBC SWS with the right to
compete at all circuit events worldwide. To do so, Hong Kong will
first have to get past pool opponents Tonga, Uruguay and China.
HKRFU Head of Performance and Coaching/National
Coach Dai Rees paid tribute to the competitiveness of the 20-man
Hong Kong Men’s Sevens training squad saying, “This has been the
toughest selection process in my career coaching at an
international level, which is a great credit to the squad.”
Coach Rees has shown faith in the side that took the gold
medal at last month’s
HSBC Asian Sevens Series tournament in
Bangkok with several of the final 12-man team having participated
in Thailand. Team mainstays Keith Robertson, Kwok Ka Chun, Anthony Haynes, Salom Yiu Kam Shing and Tom McQueen have all made the
Rowan Varty, the team’s most experienced
player with six Hong Kong Sevens appearances, will captain the
squad for the first time in the Hong Kong Stadium next weekend.
“Rowan is a natural leader and has significant experience
despite still being a young player. He will likely still be in
contention as we approach qualification for the Rugby World Cup
Sevens and ideally the Olympic Games in 2016,” said Rees.
Three players will make their debut at this year’s event, Ross
Armour, Lee Jones and Ally Maclay. “Those three have added significant depth to the squad and have helped place positive
pressure on all of the squad members in a bid to retain their
places. It has been the best preparation period we have had since
I have been involved and I think that it puts us into a good place
for the Sevens and for our build-up to qualification for the Ruby
World Cup Sevens.
“I am very satisfied with our
preparations as an entire training squad and am most pleased that
despite the intense competition for places, once the squad was
named, all of the players quickly rallied behind their team-mates.
With the added challenge of the Tokyo Sevens in the week after
Hong Kong, we will be using a greater range of players from
throughout the squad over the two tournaments.
have done the hard yards and now it will come down to 14 minutes
at 7.24pm on Friday night against Uruguay to see where we truly
stand,” concluded Rees.
In the 2011/2012 season to date,
the Hong Kong Men’s Sevens squad has won two of four HSBC Asian
Sevens Series tournaments (Goa and Bangkok) and finished as
runners-up (Shanghai) and bronze medalists (Borneo) in the two
other events in the inaugural year of the HSBC Asian Sevens
Hong Kong also reached the Cup quarterfinals in
two international invitational tournaments in Australia last
November, narrowly losing on both occasions to the shadow
Australian Sevens squad. Earlier this month, the squad was
recognized for its recent performance by winning the Hong Kong
Sports Federation & Olympic Committee’s Sports Stars Team Award
for Team Only Sport for a second consecutive year.
Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens squad has also been named
ahead of the new
IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup Hong Kong Hong
Kong. Hong Kong will be taking part in the new IRB Women’s Sevens
Challenge Cup Hong Kong, a fully sanctioned event by the
International Rugby Board, that coincides with the celebrations of
the 15th year of the Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens tournament.
The IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup Hong Kong has
attracted eleven premier international women’s teams with the
hosts pooled alongside current Rugby World Cup Sevens champions
Australia and The Netherlands.
In a first for Hong Kong
women’s sevens, four women’s matches will be played at the Cathay
Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens including the Plate Final, the two
Cup Semi Finals and the Cup Final.
With four of the
12-woman squad making their debut in the IRB Women’s Sevens
Challenge Cup Hong Kong, the team will be relying on co-captains
Royce Chan Leong Sze and Christine Gordon to help lead them to a
game in the stadium this year.
In his role as HKRFU Head of
Performance and Coaching Dai Rees commended the women’s sevens
team saying, “The women’s team coaches, Kane Jury and Andy Yuen,
have done an excellent job with the squad. The profile of the
women’s game is growing in Asia, particularly in sevens rugby, and
the competition for spaces was as intense as it was with the men.
It is an exciting year for women’s rugby with the IRB recognizing
our long-running Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens with official IRB
status and I am sure that the team is well prepared for the
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