After a strong first innings in the opening
Asian Rugby Sevens Series tournament in South Korea, where the men
took silver and the women bronze, another stocked group of Hong
Kong’s sevens athletes are in Huizhou, China (14-15
Sep) for the second of three legs on the series, which builds up
to the Olympic qualifiers in November.
Four players enter
the men’s team, which lost to Japan in the final in South Korea,
as coach Paul John continues to rotate his group and sharpen up a
squad for the Olympic qualifier.
Raef Morrison, Seb Brien, Alex
McQueen and Ben Rimene are included in the 13-man squad
with Rimene the nominated injury replacement for the weekend.
Their inclusion sees forwards Kane Boucaut and Toby Fenn, and back
Tom McQueen, rested.
The eight-team Series offers no easy
groups and Hong Kong face a physical route to a hoped for cup
final appearance, with Philippines and UAE, promoted to the
series this season, UAE, also in Pool B, along with China.
UAE had a muscular debut in Korea, narrowly losing to
Philippines in the plate semi final before beating Taipei to claim
A motivated China seven, fresh from claiming
Bronze in the opener - their first podium finish in nearly a year,
are second seeds behind Hong Kong and will prove a stiff test on
John is confident he has a group suited for
the task. “Our squad is strong. This competition is
getting more difficult to pick a squad for, now, which is good.
There is good competition across the group and we have another 14
or 15 guys training that are not travelling, but are pushing for
spaces, and that is what we want. The boys were excellent
in Korea and got very close to Japan, but we didn’t play as well
as we could in the final, and that was a bit disappointing. We
want to go as far as we possibly can again this weekend. But there
is no use in talking about it, until we have an opportunity to
play our first game. We’re only thinking about the UAE and China,
our day one opponents. China were very good in Korea.
They can give us a hard time and we are probably playing UAE at
the worst time to get someone like that, in the first game of t
tournament. It’s a tough group and we need to be on top of our
game to come through,” he said.
There are also four
additions in the 13-woman team for China, with Jessica Ho, Amber
Tsang Wing-chi and Agnes Tse Wing-kiu coming in while Florence
Symonds, Amy Pyle and Lee Tsz-ting are rested.
movement continues as coach Iain Monaghan uses every opportunity
to expose Hong Kong’s emerging talent to next-level competition.
After a seamless debut from Symonds, who scored a hat trick
against Kazakhstan in the bronze medal final, coach Iain Monaghan
is set to debut another in a long list of recent National Age
Grade (NAG) candidates making senior debuts in forward Chloe Baltazar.
Baltazar is one of a block of Borrelli Walsh USRC
Tigers players entering the national side and has represented Hong
Kong at U18 and U20s sevens level. She is joined in the squad by
scrumhalf Jessica Ho Wai-on, one of the original wave of Tigers
graduating from age grade to senior rugby in 2017, who earns her
first sevens call-up of the season this weekend.
girls bring bags of energy on and off the field, and they are
still nowhere near their potential so it’s really exciting to
watch them at this level. They all love giving their best to make
Hong Kong and their families proud,” said Monaghan.
Monaghan complimented his newest cap Baltazar saying, “Chloe has
transitioned well over the summer and played a strong role in the
U20s team that won the Asian Series. She brings an edge in our
contact tackles and some hard carries from her fifteens
experience. She never takes a backward step and I’m pleased she is
getting this chance, especially after how hard she worked this
Captain Melody Li leads the squad with Natasha
Olson-Thorne and Nam Ka-man also featured, after successfully
returning from injury and delivering impact in Korea. Their
defensive skills will be needed with Hong Kong in a challenging
group as second seeds in Pool B behind hosts China, Sri Lanka and
Malaysia. China showed well to start the season, reaching the cup
final in Korea before losing 19-5 to Japan. On home ground they
enter as early favourites.
“We want a more consistent
performance in both halves and to show our hunger and desire to
improve on, and back up our strong performances from last week,
while affording some new players a chance to show what they can
do,” said Monaghan. “It is a competitive and hard working
squad, which is good, because we have some challenging games
against improving opponents, who exposed us in Korea when we did
not work harder or smarter; we’re looking forward to righting some
wrongs from the last tournament.”
Women’s Sevens Squad (13-woman, Huizhou, China, 14-15 Sept 2019):
Melody Li Nim-yan (Captain), Natasha Olson-Thorne, Sham Wai-sum,
Chloe Baltazar^, Jessica Ho Wai-on*, Au Yeung, Sin-yi; Poon Hoi-yan;
Nam Ka-man, Chong Ka-yan, Stephanie Chan Chor-ki, Jessica Eden,
Amber Tsang Wing-chi*, Agnes Tse Wing-kiu*
Hong Kong Men’s Sevens Squad (13-man,
Huizhou, China, 14-15 Sept 2019): Max Woodward (Captain); Seb
Brien*, Michael Coverdale, Jamie Hood, Lee Jones, Cado Lee Ka-to,
Alex McQueen*, Raef Morrison*, Jack Neville, Ben Rimene*, Hugo
Stiles, Russell Webb, Yiu Kam-shing.
^ First senior sevens cap; *Season debut.
Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong
Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens,
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.