The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has
launched a campaign to honour the best seven international rugby
sevens players to have taken to the pitch at So Kon Po over the
past four decades.
The campaign accompanies a
fan poll to identify Hong Kong’s top national team
representative of the past four decades.
The first inductee into this singular sevens
roll of honour is China’s Mr Rugby, Zhang Zhiqiang, who holds the
all-time record for tries scored in Hong Kong since the inception
of the HSBC Sevens World Series in 2000 (25). Zhang added 43
conversions for a total of 211 points in a glittering career at
the Hong Kong Stadium.
Known in Hong Kong as ‘Johnny Zhang’, Zhang
played at the sevens on ten occasions and coached China in Hong
Kong on another five. He led China to their only silverware at the
Hong Kong Sevens when they won the Bowl in 2006.
Appearing as a special guest of the HKRFU at the
Official Draw for the 2015 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
on 16 February Zhang said, “To be named in the Magnificent 7 of
the Hong Kong Sevens is the greatest rugby honour in my life.”
Former England sevens star Ben Gollings was also
announced at the Draw as the recipient of the honour for week two
of the seven-week campaign that leads up to the kick-off of the
sevens at the end of March.
As the all-time leading points scorer on the
HSBC Sevens World Series, Gollings’ record stands alone. An
astonishing 276 of those points came from just eight appearances
at the Hong Kong Sevens, earning Gollings the record as the
leading points scorer in Hong Kong since the inception of the
World Series in 2000.
Gollings’ Hong Kong haul came from 20 tries
(tied-fifth all time in Hong Kong since the series began) and 88
conversions. He leads his next closest rival on the Hong Kong
scoring table, Portugal’s Pedro Leal (224), by 52 points and
outpaces third-placed Zhang (211) by 65 on Hong Kong’s
Gollings played on three of England’s four cup
winning sides in 2002, 2004 and 2006 (England also won in 2003),
and featured at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2005. He returned to
his favourite stomping ground from 2008 to 2011 and is still a
regular and much welcome visitor to the sevens each year.
Zhang Zhiqiang commented on his new teammate
saying, “Ben is a player with a lot of heart and skill. I enjoyed
watching him and playing against him for so many years in Hong
Kong. As captain and then coach of the China Sevens team I would
always ask the players to watch tape of Ben to see how Sevens
should be played.”
The third member of the Magnificent 7 will be
announced in the week of 23 February, followed by a player per
week, with the final inductee being honoured along with his
teammates at the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union’s 40 years of
Sevens Gala Dinner on Wednesday, 25 March, 2015.
The entire Magnificent 7 will be assembled at
the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens from 27-29 March 2015
where their achievements will be recognized during the tournament.
The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will be
played from 27 to 29 March 2015 at the 40,000-seat Hong Kong
Pictures from the 2014 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
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