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Rugby: Portugal, Russia and Zimbabwe to Compete in Hong Kong Cup of Nations

Home Search Send to Friend Latest Travel News Asia Friday, 29 May 2015
 

Following the successful hosting of the national teams of Belgium and Russia in the past two seasons, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has expanded the playing opportunity for the Hong Kong national team during the November international window with the launch of a new four-team competition, the Hong Kong Cup of Nations.

The national teams of Portugal, Russia and Zimbabwe will travel to Hong Kong in November for a round-robin competition featuring six matches played over three match days.

The World Rugby-sanctioned competition will be played on 13, 17 and 21 November 2015.

HKRFU General Manager of Performance Rugby, Dai Rees

HKRFU General Manager of Performance Rugby, Dai Rees

HKRFU General Manager of Performance Rugby, Dai Rees, said, “We have been working with World Rugby for a number of years to formalise a competition for Performance 2 and 3 level unions to ensure that we play the number of annual matches recommended by World Rugby for countries that aspire to reach the Rugby World Cup. To reach the recommended seven to ten annual fixtures, we need to combine our Asia Rugby Championships campaign – which is four matches in the spring – with touring or bringing in international teams for home tests in November. The Cup of Nations, which is a full round-robin competition comprising six matches played over three match days, will help us reach the recommended number of matches.”

Russia is the highest ranked team competing in the Cup of Nations, currently 19th in the World Rugby standings. Portugal is ranked 23 and Zimbabwe is 28. Hong Kong moved up two spots to 25th in the world after finishing second in the Asia Rugby Championship.

“The teams invited to participate in the Cup of Nations are all ranked between 18 and 28 in the world, providing broadly competitive fixtures for Hong Kong,” said Rees. “These teams all regularly reach the final stages of qualification for the Rugby World Cup. All four teams, including Hong Kong, advanced deep into the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualification process but ultimately didn’t qualify. We want to play against teams just outside of the Rugby World Cup rankings, which is about the top 16 or 18 teams in the world, to engage in meaningful and competitive fixtures that will help us prepare for qualification for the Rugby World Cup in 2019.”

“From a scheduling standpoint, the calendar will look quite good for Hong Kong with the Cup of Nations giving us another opportunity for intense competition at the beginning of our domestic season and six months on from the Asia Rugby Championship. After finishing our qualification campaign for the 2015 World Cup, and reaching the international repechage match for the first time, we were able to play Russia just three months after ten international players retired. That helped us introduce new players into our national programmes, many of whom figured prominently in helping us defend our runners-up spot in the Asia Rugby Championship behind Japan. So these opportunities are really important for our preparations and high performance programmes. We want to push and pressurise ourselves over the coming few years. Having three teams of the calibre of Russia, Portugal and Zimbabwe coming here six months after the Asia Rugby Championship window will help us maintain intensity as we increasingly focus on our high-performance 15s programmes,” Rees added.

It is hoped that the competition will become an annual tournament as Hong Kong begin their build-up towards the qualification campaign for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, the first rugby world championship to be held in Asia.

Match schedules and venues have not yet been announced.

See other recent news regarding: Interviews, Pictures, Videos, Rugby, HKRFU, Cup of Nations, Hong Kong

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