The Hong Kong Sevens team has arrived in Moscow
ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013.
2013 marks Hong Kong’s sixth consecutive
appearance at the Rugby World Cup Sevens dating back to the
tournament’s inception in 1993 in Edinburgh.
With the International Rugby Board (IRB)
confirming that the top-placed team from each region in Moscow
will earn the right of entry to the debut rugby sevens competition
at next year’s Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, the team is
out to make its mark in Moscow. Japan and the Philippines also
qualified for the World Cup from Asia.
Hong Kong’s preparations were however dealt a setback
with scrumhalf Cado Lee Ka To, a late scratch due to the flare-up
of a knee injury flare-up in training.
HKRFU Head of Performance and National Coach Dai
Rees said, “Cado took a blow to his knee
at the China Games qualifiers last month. He had recovered enough
to train but pulled up in training this week. He’s devastated of
course but he understands that there is a lot of rugby still to
play this year.”
Lee is replaced by 19-year old Josh Peters, who
will be making his Hong Kong senior debut at the World Cup.
Peters, who plays for Valley in the HKRFU domestic league, has
been on the fringes of selection for the HSBC Asian 5 Nations as
well as the senior sevens squad.
Coach Rees commented on the youth movement
saying, “We are in a transition period as we build towards next
year’s Asian Games and the start of Olympic qualifications for
2016. We’ve also been invited to the World Games and have the
four-leg Asian Sevens Series starting in August so we need to
groom new players to step up to the senior squad.
“It’s a big ask for Josh to come in at such late
notice. But it's a great opportunity for a talented young player
who has come through the HKRFU development systems and was captain
of our successful U20 sevens team last year. Josh is a promising
player with excellent field vision and is very much in the mould
of Cado and other Hong Kong scrumhalves like Jeff Wong. He’s
strong and agile and brings physicality to his game that is
surprising for a player of his stature. He has a big role to play
“With our inclusion into the Hong Kong Sports
Institute we have a commitment to develop the next generation of
elite players and Josh fits that bill. We did the same with Chris
Maize at the China Games qualifiers. Josh is the latest in that
wave of players and after Moscow will be qualified as a senior
athlete for possible inclusion into the HKSI programme,” added
Coach Rees’s reach for youth is part of an
overriding theme for the team at this weekend’s World Cup.
“Finishing as the top Asian team will conclude
what has been a very successful season for us with qualifying for
the World Cup, ranking 16th on the world series and finishing as
Asian Sevens champions for the first time – not to mention rugby’s
inclusion into the HKSI.
“But the players are very cognizant that a
strong finish in Moscow means that they will have created an
outstanding opportunity for some of our top under-18 players to
take part in the Youth Olympics, and hopefully start putting
stepping stones in place for our bid to qualify for the Olympics
in 2016,” said Rees.
Hong Kong’s continental competitors at the Cup,
Japan and the Philippines, are in Pool B and C alongside South
Africa, Scotland and Russia and Samoa, Kenya and Zimbabwe
2013 marks the HKRFU’s sixth qualification for
the World Cup dating back to the first ever sevens world cup in
1993 in Edinburgh. Hong Kong is also the only international rugby
union to have hosted two Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1997 and 2005.
Hong Kong’s participation in every Rugby World
Cup Sevens is a tremendous accomplishment for local sport and the
recent inclusion of rugby into the Hong Kong Sports Institute will
add new relevance to the team’s performance.
Coach Rees remains realistic about the
challenges that await against three of the world’s most
experienced sevens teams in England, Argentina and Portugal.
“We know our pool opponents very well, so we are
aware how tough it will be to achieve our goal. England improved
dramatically as the season wore on and they had a strong
tournament the last time out on the World Series at Twickenham.
They’re on-form without a doubt, but we have trained and played
them frequently so at least we have the comfort of familiarity.
“We’ve also played both Argentina and Portugal
several times in the past few years. We edged Argentina 7-5 in
Hong Kong in March, so I expect they will be up for the re-match.
Portugal is another team we have played and beaten in the past, so
for us those two matches are both winnable.
“We need some early performances so that we can
be in a good position entering Sunday. Hopefully we will get a bit
of a luck in the placing for the Sunday competitions but there is
no doubt that we need to have performances over the first two days
to get ourselves in the position we need to be in to finish as
Asia’s top team,” said Rees.
Hong Kong Squad for the
2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens
Rowan Varty (Captain), Anthony Haynes, Kwok Ka
Chun, Yiu Kam Shing, Salom, Alex McQueen, Tom McQueen, Nick Hewson,
Jamie Hood, Lee Jones, Eni Gesinde, Ben Rimene, Josh Peterson.
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