HKRFU Sevens Teams in Australia for Darwin Test

Travel News Asia Videos Podcasts Latest Travel News Asia Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Hong Kong Rugby Football Unions Mens and Womens Sevens teams have embarked on their first overseas preparation tour for this years Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Womens Sevens, visiting the worlds hottest sevens tournament in Darwin, Australia (25-26 January 2014).

This will be the first occasion that the mens and womens teams will be under the charge of the new coaches appointed to run the elite Rugby Sevens programme at the Hong Kong Sports Institute.

It is a significant tour, said Dai Rees, HKRFU Head of Technical Development and Performance. It is the first training camp as a full-time group effectively, with the majority of the athletes from the HKSI involved. It is also the opportunity for the new coaches to stamp their direction on where they want the squads to go and to evaluate the current players in an intense competitive environment.

Darwin is the start of a massive campaign for Hong Kong with the Asian Games on the calendar and of course the upcoming qualification tournament for a sole spot on the HSBC Sevens World Series at stake at the Hong Kong Sevens, added Rees.

Twenty-five of the 28 players (14-person squads) in the two teams are either full or part-time athletes at the Hong Kong Sports Institute. With the high numbers of HKSI athletes, the HKRFU is domiciling the teams at the Northern Territory Institute of Sport during their tour.

The players will be able to use the world-class facilities of the Northern Territory Institute of Sport (NTIS) during their visit, while the coaches will interact with the NTIS rugby coaches during the visit as a means of strengthening ties between the two Institutes.

Ex-Wales Sevens coach Gareth Baber will coach the mens team for the first time in Darwin and has selected a veteran squad of 14 to travel to Australia.

Baber talked about the opportunity of playing in Darwin saying, Training camps like this provide a great opportunity to see how players react when they are away from home and provided challenges outside of their normal training environments.

It will be a chance for me to see the dynamics of the group and how they relate to each other when you take into consideration such elements as international and local travel, living in hotels with different food choices, cultural differences and simply being away from family and friends for prolonged periods. It is experiences of this sort, both negative and positive, that provide the basis of a squad culture, added Baber.

The mens squad is captained by Jamie Hood and includes a raft of veteran players including Rowan Varty, Salom Yiu Kam Shing, Nick Hewson, Kwok Ka Chun, Alex and Tom McQueen, Ben Rimene and Lee Jones. The youth movement includes Raef Morrison and Max Woodward, both of whom staked out regular places in the squad during the HSBC Asian Sevens Series.

Tsang Hing Hung returns to the side to stake his claim to crack the final 12 for the Hong Kong Sevens alongside Tomasi Lawa who made his sevens team debut in last years Asian Sevens Series.

The squad also sees the return of firebrand Keith Robertson who has completed his aviation studies and is again residing in Hong Kong a Cathay Pacific pilot.

For the first time, the Hong Kong Womens Rugby Sevens have also travelled to Darwin alongside the men.

HKRFU Womens Sevens coach Anna Richards has selected a strong squad for Darwin, which will be led by Royce Chan Leong Sze and Christine Gordon. Other team members include Amelie Seure, Rose Fong Siu-Lan, Christy Cheng Ka Chi, Emmy Chan Hoi Ping, Aggie Poon Pak Yan, Sham Wai Sum, Melody Li Nim Yan, Ivy Kwong Sau Yan, Cheng Tsz Ting, Yuen Lok Yee, Stephanie Cuvelier and Lindsay Varty. Thirteen of the fourteen womens players are Hong Kong Sports Institute athletes.

Mark Komar will serve as assistant mens sevens coach for Baber in Darwin, while recently appointed HKSI Mens Sevens coach Kane Jury will support Anna Richards and the Womens Sevens team in Darwin.

To ensure a high level of continuity during the coaching transition, Jury, the former Hong Kong Womens Sevens coach will also support Richards through the Hong Kong Womens Rugby Sevens campaign with Mens Sevens coach Alex Gibbs playing a similar role for Gareth Baber with support from Jury.

The continuity should be a boast to the squads as they advance to Hong Kongs most intensive international competition of the year, the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (28 30 March).

The tournament draw for the Darwin Sevens will be held this week.

Hong Kong, Sevens, Darwin, Rugby, Australia

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