[HONG KONG, 16th November 2021]: The Hong Kong Rugby Union and World Rugby today announced the rescheduling of April’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens to 4-6 November 2022, when it will serve as the opening event of next season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The postponement marks the fifth time the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) has had to reschedule or cancel the Sevens since the pandemic’s emergence in 2020, and comes in response to the continuing uncertainty surrounding travel measures facing participating teams.
It is the longest postponement to date, at a full 12 months, and the hope remains that the interim period will see continued growth in vaccination rates locally and abroad, and the opening of Hong Kong’s border with China and internationally to allow the Hong Kong Sevens to mark its 45th staging without disruption and with a full complement of teams.
When offered an opportunity to kick off the Series in November by World Rugby, the HKRU felt it was in the best interests of the tournament, the teams and fans, to reschedule. It will be the first time since kicking off in 1976 that the Hong Kong Sevens will be played outside of spring. Hong Kong will host a second event in the 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series six months after November’s return, in its customary April window, doubling the enjoyment for fans.
“The HKRU has been consistent in our message that we can deliver the Sevens without jeopardising the success of community health efforts which we support, but this requires a confidence that all participating teams can be allowed to travel and the ability to host the event to our own high standard, which we cannot guarantee. Given this remains impossible to predict for April, our only remedy is to postpone to remove any uncertainty for teams, fans, and our operations financially,” said HKRU Chief Executive Robbie McRobbie
McRobbie stressed the rugby community’s staunch support of local health efforts saying, “We back the Government’s efforts to encourage vaccination in the community, and are proud that 100% of our staff and professional athletes are fully vaccinated. We believe this remains the most effective means of opening borders safely and quickly so international business, travel and sports events can resume, and hope that this can be achieved by next November,” added McRobbie.
“We understand that fans at home and abroad will be disappointed, but we appeal to their continued patience and support,” said McRobbie.
The consecutive postponements have forced the HKRU to exhaust its financial reserves after an accumulated pandemic-related loss to date of HK$200 million, and reduce headcount by more than 40%, including closing its professional players programme.
Similar effects have been felt across the sports community said McRobbie: “The longer that government supported M Mark international sports events are unable to be staged, the higher the risk that they disappear from their international calendars entirely, doing lasting harm to their sports and our community, and ironically leaving the city bereft of world class events just as Kai Tak Sports Park prepares to open its doors.”
Given the continued uncertainty regarding hosting, no tickets for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2022 have been sold.
The Hong Kong Sevens
Established in 1976 and organised annually by the Hong Kong Rugby Union, the Hong Kong Sevens is the world’s premier international sevens event, marking its 45th year in 2020. Since 1999, the Hong Kong Sevens has been a part of World Rugby’s HSBC Sevens Series. The Hong Kong Rugby Union is the only international rugby union to have hosted two Rugby World Cup Sevens, in 1997 and 2005.
Hong Kong Rugby Union
The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) was founded in 1952, and became an affiliated union of World Rugby in 1988. In 1968, the HKRU became a founding member of Asia Rugby and remains committed to the development of the game in Asia. In 2008, the HKRU presented the first neutral-venue Bledisloe Cup – followed by a second match in 2010. In 2013, the HKRU hosted the first British & Irish Lions match played in Asia and the following year hosted the first regional Olympic qualifier tournament for Rugby Sevens. The HKRU is a member of the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China and provides competitive and social rugby opportunities for men and women at every age and skill level.
Released on behalf of the Hong Kong Rugby Union by Elite Step Asia. For further information please contact Sean Moore at +852 9095 8889/[email protected] (English-language media), or Kitty Wu (Chinese language media) on [email protected].