The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) has confirmed
the teams participating in the Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens 2016
Ten international teams will take part as the HKWRS
marks its 19th year, making it the world’s longest running
international women’s rugby sevens competition.
teams from four continents alongside hosts Hong Kong will take
part in the competition: Argentina, China, France, Japan,
Kazakhstan, Kenya, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Ruth Mitchell, tournament director for the HKWRS and director of
development for the HKRU commented on the competition, a subject
she is very familiar with, having captained the Hong Kong team in
several HKWRS tournaments.
“I’m excited at how the
tournament has progressed over the years. Hong Kong is the longest
established women’s sevens tournament in the world and we have had
38 international teams participate over the past 19 years. This
year, for the first time, all of the teams have played in the
tournament before, so we can expect a high standard of play and
with plenty of Asian teams involved, the rivalry is sure to be
intense,” Mitchell said.
Of the participating teams,
France, Kenya and Japan have already qualified for the Rio Summer
Games in August, when rugby will return to the Olympics for the
first time since 1924.
France and Japan are also participating
on the HSBC Women’s Sevens Series this season with France in
fourth place in the standings and Japan eleventh of the 12 core
teams. Both teams have figured in recent HKWRS Cup finals. Japan
lost to Canada, 19-12, last year while France was beat by Canada,
24-0, in 2014.
Argentina, China, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong will
compete in the Olympic repechage tournament in Dublin in June,
making the HKWRS an important preparation event for the final
stage of Olympic qualification. The winner in Dublin will be the
12th and final team to qualify for the Women’s Rugby Sevens
competition at the Rio Games.
As always, Asia is well
represented with the hosts Hong Kong, China, Japan, Kazakhstan,
Sri Lanka and Thailand all taking part. Japan and China finished
first and second in Asia last season with Hong Kong hot on their
heels in third place in the region.
Hong Kong Women’s Sevens
Coach, Anna Richards, said,
“There is a good range of teams this year with sides from Africa,
Europe and South America, alongside the top teams from Asia. It’s
always good to get a chance to play against teams with different
styles then those we see in the region and it will be helpful for
us as prepare for the Olympic qualifier in Ireland where there
will be 16 teams from all over the world.”
In keeping with the
HKRU’s commitment to supporting the development of women’s rugby
in Hong Kong and around the world, the HKWRS cup final has been
played as part of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens since
“The women are included in all facets of the Cathay
Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, not just playing in the cup final,
but we also participate in the famous March Past. Being able to
showcase the skill and strength of the women’s game on the
international stage at the Sevens has helped raise awareness of
women’s rugby around the world,” Mitchell said.
Hong Kong narrowly missed out on reaching their first cup final,
advancing to the semi-finals after dispatching a slew of Asian
opponents, including then Asian champions China and Kazakhstan, in
the pool stages.
Hong Kong went on to beat Samoa in the
quarterfinal before losing the semi 10-5 to Japan. Another close
result went against the hosts when they lost the third place
play-off to the Netherlands, 14-7. It was Hong Kong’s best ever
performance in the HKWRS and set the stage for a strong run in the
Asia Rugby Women’s Sevens series later in the year.
“We got on
a roll last year with a great start on the opening day when we
beat China and Kazakhstan. Those performances gave us the
self-belief we needed to go out and compete both on day two and
later in the year on the Asian series.
“We will need another
fast start this year so a lot will be riding on what pool we are
drawn in as we need to finish either first or second in our group
to advance to the cup,” Richards said. The tournament draw for the
HKWRS will be held alongside the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong
Sevens draw on Monday, 14 March.
Complicating matters for
Richards is a lack of warm-up events for the women’s team ahead of
the HKWRS: “Last year we had two tournaments in the build up to
the sevens, but this year we don’t have any. We’ve been training
really hard and are working closely with the Sports Science team
at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, but I know the girls are
excited about the prospect of our first tournament action since
November last year.”
Richards has had to get creative to
accentuate the build-up campaign. The sevens training squad will
play a series of training games against a touring side from
Princeton University on March 16.
Richards, a former New
Zealand international, has also negotiated with the New Zealand
Rugby Union to organise a group of New Zealand Sevens development
players who the HKRU are flying up to Hong Kong, where they will
mix with top local players in a
Barbarians format, for a two-day
training camp at the Hong Kong Sports Institute on 19 and
The tournament will be held on Thursday and Friday, (7-8
April) with the opening day’s action at Kings Park in Kowloon. Day
Two will be held at the Hong Kong Football Club (8 April) with the
final once again being held beneath the lights at the Hong Kong Stadium as a main focus of the opening day of the Cathay
Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
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GM of The Park Lane Hong Kong,
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Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015,
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