The two-day Asia Rugby U20 Sevens tournament got
underway in Hong Kong this morning.
Traditionally a two-leg series, the 2017
installment of the annual competition will feature only this
weekend’s tournament at King’s Park.
Hong Kong’s men are looking to regain the crown they took in
both 2014 and 2015 before slipping to second behind Sri Lanka in
last year’s event.
“Our target is always
to win the competition and that is no different this year,”
said assistant coach, Stephen Dowse. “Last year was a bit of a blip as we see it but it’s now the opportunity for the
boys to prove that it was a blip.”
Hong Kong take
on Uzbekistan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand in pool play
before the tournament heads into the semi-final stage, with Dowse
expecting Korea to be the toughest of the four.
“Year in, year out we have got a good understanding of how each of
the teams play,” said Dowse, who is the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s
elite player development manager. “The traditional
threats of Korea and Sri Lanka will be strong again. Korea are
quite structured and like to play a fast game. Hong Kong are always a favourite so the other guys will want to
put up a good performance against us as well. There are no easy games for us, which is a good thing as we want
to make sure we are prepared from the first game onwards and we
build our performances throughout the weekend.”
Lanka are likely to be waiting should Hong Kong, who are coached
by Fan Shun-kei, progress through pool play.
Sri Lankans are probably a bit looser in how they play [than the
Koreans] but again they are very dangerous,” Dowse said. “They are happy to play in that chaos-type situation and
for us it’s about getting on top of them early and keeping our
foot on their throat.”
The Hong Kong team is loaded
with experience, with Mark Coebergh captain of a 12-strong squad
that includes three players that are part of Hong Kong’s senior
“One of the positives of this squad
is that with James Karton, Fong Kit-fung and Chong Shun-hong all
at the SI full-time now, they have come into the squad and added a
real energy and have got that experience and that lift from
training with the SI guys from the start of this year,” Dowse
said. “Mark Coebergh is full-time with the elite
rugby programme and is really experienced even though he is still
quite young and the likes of Henry Poon and Olly Overman have come
through the podium programme, which is our junior elite sevens
programme, and we are looking forward to watching them on the
Hong Kong are also bolstered by a trio of
overseas-based players, with Max Denmark, Daniel Archer and
Cameron Smith all putting their hands up for selection.
“One of the key things for us that is really great to see
is the integration of all the different programmes, the boys from
national age grade, the boys from the podium programme, the SI and
ERP players and then some quality additions from overseas as
well,” Dowse said.
Hong Kong warmed up for the
tournament with a hit-out against Paul John’s senior side and
Karton, Fong and Chong will all be looking to impress ahead of the
upcoming Asia Rugby Sevens Series.
“We had a
hit-out against the men last week and I think that was fantastic
to give the boys some experience playing against better opposition
and to take a bit of confidence for the weekend,” Dowse said. “This is a great chance for them [Karton, Fong and
Chong] to really show what they can do over the course of a
Hong Kong’s women are looking to go
one better after finishing second in the two editions of the
women’s tournament thus far.
They take on
Uzbekistan, China, Thailand, India, Malaysia and Singapore in a
round-robin tournament, with each team playing each other once and
the top-ranked side crowned the winner.
Komar is confident he has assembled a squad capable of taking top
“We have got a really strong squad and it is
probably the most talented we have had in the last three years,”
he said. “China tend to put out a strong side every
year and we have beaten Thailand before and they have beaten us,
so there is a bit of rivalry there. Those two sides will be our
Komar is assisted by Hong
Kong women’s coach Anna Richards, with Grace Hood and Cathy Chan Tsz-ying to co-captain the side.
“Grace Hood is our
playmaker and will be crucial, Cathy Chan is a senior player and
trains part-time at the SI and brings some of that senior
experience and structures and systems that Anna and I have in
place,” Komar said.
Komar is looking to the dynamic
pairing of Hood and Rose Wright – the sister of veteran Hong Kong
Men’s sevens player Mark Wright – to lead from the front over the
“In the past we’ve had an abundance of
speed but this year we are lacking a bit,” he said. “This year our main strength is our ball carriers, we have got
some really strong ball carriers who like to take it to the line
with a bit of offloading as well. We will look to carry the ball a lot. It might not be the typical sevens style but
we are going to play to our strengths.”
Chan, Joyce Chui Kam-chi, Jasmine Fung Hoi-ching, Hau Sin Man,
Sombo Sisay, Hebe Talas and Emily Tuck will be making their
Play kicked-off at 09:30 this morning and will
get underway at 10:00 on Saturday, 5 August. The tournament is
taking place at King's Park 11 Wyllie
Path, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon.
Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens,
Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong
Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015,
Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong
Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015,
Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong,
Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014,
Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013,
of Chartis Cup 2012 and
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.
See other recent