Hong Kong Names Mens & Womens Squads for Asian Sevens Series Finale in Beijing

Travel News Asia Videos Podcasts Latest Travel News Asia Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has named its squads for the finale of the 2014 Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) Asian Sevens Series which will take place this weekend at the Chaoyang Sports Centre in Beijing.

The mens and womens teams are both in contention to capture the Asian titles, with the men in first place after winning the opening two rounds of the three-event mens series and the women in second place after their first event of the season at Hong Kong Football Club in August.

The men enter Beijings Chaoyang Stadium in a commanding position after winning the first two cups of the season in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Hong Kong tops the Series table on 24 points from two wins.

Japan and South Korea are tied-second on 21 points after each reached a cup final to date on the Series.

Japan overturned the formbook at the 17th Asian Games earlier this month, handing Hong Kong their first loss of the season in the gold medal match. Hong Kong captured their second successive Asian Games silver medal in Incheon, while the hosts South Korea claimed the bronze with Sri Lanka finishing in fourth, confirming the contenders for this weekends finale in Beijing.

Hong Kong needs to reach the semi finals at least to secure their title, but the team is intent on keeping their perfect record in this years ARFU sevens competition intact.

Finishing as number one is massively important for us, said captain Jamie Hood. It was one of our goals for the season to finish number one in Asia and set ourselves up for all the work that needs to be done to perform well in the Hong Kong Sevens and the Olympic qualifiers in 2015 ... To send that message out to the other teams in Asia with a 3-0 series victory would be awesome.

For Hong Kong coach Gareth Baber the team has put the disappointment of the Asian Games behind them.

We reviewed our individual and team performance goals and indicators after Incheon. We analysed the Games in that way and nothing more than that really. Obviously their was a lot of emotion involved in our Games performance, but now we are back and it is about taking that out of the equation and looking at that experience objectively to see how it informs us going into the final tournament ... Now the focus is on what we need to do in the final leg of the Series and what we need to do to get back to the semi finals and finals in Beijing, Baber said.

The women are also in contention this weekend after reaching the cup final in their home event at Hong Kong Football Club, the first of two womens tournaments on the 2014 series.

Hong Kongs women are in second place on the Asian log with seven points, one behind table leaders China, who have looked unstoppable in various competitions this season.

Hong Kong was edged out of the medal race for a second successive Asian Games in Korea, losing to Kazakhstan 12-0 to finish fourth overall. Hong Kong had beat Kazakhstan on day one of the tournament 12-7 but couldnt replicate the feat against the physical Kazakhstan team.

Beijing will give Hong Kong a first opportunity at revenge as they are pooled with Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and Singapore. China tops the other pool ahead of Japan (silver medallists in Korea), Thailand and the Philippines.

We were disappointed after the Asian Games but our confidence wasnt dented. At the end of the day we were pleased with our performance and now we are working on finishing out those close game scenarios, said Hong Kong captain Royce Chan Leong Sze. Physically, Kazakhstan are very strong and we are excited to play them again. Both teams are very even in terms of skill level and competitiveness. But we know that we need to finish these type of games more consistently.

Until two years ago we were regularly finishing in fourth or fifth place but we have already improved a lot after joining the Hong Kong Sports Institute and are capable of competing for higher places now. It is a great sign of the future of Hong Kong Womens Rugby, Chan added.

Both teams have made a few changes ahead of the start of the Beijing Sevens.

The mens team sees the return of veterans Nicholas Hewson and Lee Jones who are the only changes from the Asian Games. Hewson and Jones replace Mark Wright who has returned to Japan where he plays in the Top League and Kwok Ka Chun who is unavailable this weekend.

Lee and Nick bring a lot of sevens experience to the side but they are also two guys who bring an added physicality and who protect the structure of the squad in the way we play. That kind of experience counts in the Series especially when you are playing in the final leg, said Baber. Both are very clear on what they have to do in Beijing and will be looking to do that again this weekend.

Keith Robertson has retained his place in the squad and will get an extended opportunity to show head coach Gareth Baber what he can bring to the squad on his second selection after a multi-year absence due to injury and career commitments.

Keith is someone who can break up the game and create things for people around him, said Baber. Going into the Asian Games, Keith was pretty short in terms of pitch time but was getting there in relation to the training volume he was doing with us and the volume of contact he was doing with us us. He got some moments in the Asian Games but was not quite where he needed to be.

Now he has had another couple of weeks back with us and he is progressing well. We need to get him back to where he was before his knee issues and I looking forward to seeing him progress that this weekend, Baber said.

Hong Kong tops Pool A in Beijing alongside Singapore and Chinese Taipei. Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Kazakhstan are in Pool B with South Korea, Thailand and UAE in Pool C.

Japan will have a stiffer route through the pool stage and will need to negotiate a path similar to that of Hong Kong at the Asian Games if they hope to reach their second straight final. Japan is pooled with China and Philippines in Pool D.

Womens coach Anna Richards has made four changes to her squad from the Asian Games with veterans Colleen Tjosvold and Christine Gordon being called up, while Adrienne Garvey earns her second selection after making her Hong Kong senior debut at the IRB Womens Sevens World Series qualifiers in September. Lee Tsz Ting will mark her womens senior squad debut in Beijing.

Hong Kong Mens Sevens Squad: Jamie Hood (captain), Rowan Varty, Yiu Kam Shing, Salom, Lee Jones, Nick Hewson, Tom McQueen, Alex McQueen, Lee Ka To Cado, Max Woodward, Jack Capon, Michael Coverdale, Keith Robertson.

Hong Kong Womens Sevens Squad: Royce Chan Leong Sze (captain), Adrienne Garvey, Cheng Ka Chi, Christy, Cheng Tsz Ting, Tjosvold Colleen, Kwong Sau Yan, Lee Tsz Ting, Christine Gordon, Poon Pak Yan, Rose Fong Siu-Lan, Sham Wai Sum, Yuen Lok Yee.

HK, Hong Kong, Sevens, Rugby, Beijing

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