Get to know the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Ambassadors

28 March, 2018 by Matt Mcmanaway

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Next Thursday, 5th April, we’re hosting a ‘meet-and-greet’ with our nine rugby ambassadors. This is a public event, located at Renaissance Hotel, Wan Chai, no tickets required.

If you’re looking for some great food and drinks deals (the Mirage bar are offering BOGOF on Carlsberg draft beer and 20% off intriguing burgers), plus the chance to chat to the legends, come and join us.

In the meantime, here’s some homework to get you swatted up….





John Smit

John made his South African debut in 2000 at the age of 22. In 2004 he was named captain and went on to skipper his country in a record 83 test matches, becoming the most capped captain in international rugby in 2009. Only after his international retirement in 2011 was his record finally chased down my Richie McCaw and Brian O’Driscoll. John called time on his highly successful international career with 111 caps to his name captaining the Springboks to win the Rugby World Cup in 2007, two Tri-Nations trophies and a series win against the British and Irish Lions in 2009. Domestically John played the majority of his rugby for the Sharks in Super Rugby. He went on to play 125 games for the franchise and captained them for the majority of the matches that he played. He briefly turned out for Clermont in France for a season after his 2007 World Cup Triumph, before returning to the Sharks.After retiring from International rugby, John returned to Europe to play for Saracens until his retirement in 2013.


Mills Muliana

Do you have a nickname? If so, how did you get it, and is it used on a regular basis?
My name is Malili and people in Invercargill (where I grew up) struggled to pronounce my name and called me “Milli”, then it just became “Mils”. When I first started playing professional rugby, the commentators and media struggled to pronounce my name also, so I told them just to call me Mils and it has just stuck ever since!

What is your earliest rugby memory?
I played Rugby League until I was 11. My first rugby memory was in 1992 when the All Blacks played 3 tests against the World XV.

Most admired rugby player?
John Kirwan and Michael Jones

If you hadn’t of been a rugby player what would you have done?
I would have been a policeman.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hong Kong?
Hong Kong Sevens!

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens?
The atmosphere, playing/watching Fiji in the final…and the party of course!

What costume would you wear to the South Stand?
Batman.

If you were to choose the playlist for the South Stand what would be the first 3 tracks you would choose and why?
Sweet Caroline, Is this the way to Amarillo, Back in Black.

Prediction for the Men’s and Women’s tournaments this year?
Ideally I would like the All Black Sevens Men to win, however South Africa have led the way and Fiji are always sharp in HK. For the women’s the NZ Women’s team is my pick.

Shane Horgan
One of five players to debut for Ireland against Scotland in February 2000, Shane Horgan forged a reputation of a fearsome and powerfully built winger and world class finisher. He initially climbed the international ladder with appearances for the Ireland Youths and under-21s and then marked his senior debut with a try in what would become a common theme in his 65 tests. Alongside Ronan O'Gara, Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy, Horgan formed part of one of the most potent back-lines in world rugby, helping Ireland to three Triple Crowns in four years between 2004 and 2007. He finished his career as the fourth highest try scorer in Irish history with perhaps his most memorable being the final minute match winner, stretching through a Lewis Moody tackle, to secure the Triple Crown against England at Twickenham in 2006. His finishing ability was rewarded in 2005 with a place in the British and Irish Lions to tour New Zealand where he appeared in all three tests.



Catherine Spencer
Do you have a nickname? If so, how did you get it, and is it used on a regular basis?
A bit of an unoriginal one I am afraid but I have been called ‘Spence’ since my school days. In my England playing days I was also referred to as the Polar Bear – that originated when we were on tour to New Zealand in 2005 and our forwards coach Graham Smith decided I was like a Polar Bear!

What is your earliest rugby memory?
My earliest rugby memory of sorts is playing a version of rugby with my two brothers at home on my parents landing! Another memory is watching Bath win another Pilkington Cup final at Twickenham. It was in the days when the crowds were allowed to invade the pitch after the game to watch the players lift the trophy. I remember thinking how great it was – we were chanting “Coochie, Coochie, Coochie” when former Bath and England player Gareth Chilcott lifted the trophy. He was a bit of a Bath legend! After that we stayed and had a picnic on the pitch – how times have changed!

Most admired rugby player?
Gill Burns, former England Captain and number 8, was someone who particularly inspired me when I was starting to hear more about the England Women’s team when I was growing up. She was fantastic on the pitch but hugely instrumental off the pitch too, and the game would not be where it is today without her. I had the pleasure of playing alongside her in a Legends game played at the last World Cup.

If you hadn’t of been a rugby player what would you have done?
This is always a tricky question! I am sure I would have been playing sport of some kind but whether I would have become an international athlete in another sport I don’t know! I like rowing so I may have done more of that, or perhaps I would simply have enjoyed some more free time at weekends!

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hong Kong?
The 7’s of course!

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens?
That I am glad I am not playing in the warm weather!

What costume would you wear to the South Stand?
Now this really is a tough question. So much choice out there but maybe a winter Olympics themed outfit? Jamaican bobsleigh outfit? Or something a little more forgiving to my figure now that I am retired!

If you were to choose the playlist for the South Stand what would be the first 3 tracks you choose and why?
Can’t beat some old classics so The Top Gun anthem and then Gold by Spandau Ballet followed by Survivor’s Eye of The Tiger – I’m obviously showing my age with these tracks but some things just can’t be bettered!

David Lyons
With a standout debut Super Rugby season with the New South Wales Warratahs in 2000, a 20 year old David Lyons was fast tracked into the Australian team the same year. This meant that both his Super Rugby and International Debuts had come before he had even played a game of Senior club rugby. David went on to record a run of 83 consecutive games for the Warratahs, an Australian Super Rugby record that still stands today. He then joined the Centurians club, pulling on the sky blue jumper 105 times. In that time he took the Warratahs to two Super Rugby finals and lifted two player of the year trophies. Through an international career that only ended when he moved to the Northern Hemisphere, the hulking number 8 won a series against the British and Irish Lions and helped barnstorm the Wallabies to the famous extra time final of the World Cup in 2003. The following year his form was rewarded by winning the John Eales medal for Australian International Player of the Year. In 2008 David joined the common post world cup exodus to play in the Northern Hemisphere and played over 150 games for both the Scarlets and Stade Francais.


Jim Hamilton
Do you have a nickname? If so, how did you get it, and is it used on a regular basis?
Big Jim (original, I know) is used regularly. I would have preferred something a lot cooler, ice or blade.

What is your earliest rugby memory?
I played for a junior club called Keresley in Coventry at about 11. I played Hooker and my boots were too small. I didn’t play rugby again until i was 15.

Most admired rugby player?
Matt Hampson. A close friend who broke his neck while training at England. He is paralysed from the neck down and has gone on to set up a foundation and opened a “Get Busy Living Centre” in Leicester which helps other people that have had life changing injuries.

If you hadn’t of been a rugby player what would you have done?
I wanted to join the army like my Dad.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hong Kong?
Dim Sum, sweating and 7s.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens?
Party!

What costume would you wear to the South Stand?
My go to is normally a Gorilla but because of the heat i would go as a surfer.

If you were to choose the playlist for the South Stand what would be the first 3 tracks you choose and why?
Guns n Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”, Oasis “Sally Can Wait”, and Guns n Roses “Knocking on Heavens door”.

Prediction for the Men’s and Women’s tournaments this year?
Fiji for the Men’s and New Zealand for the Women’s.

David Campese
It’s a testament to David’s contributions to the game that he remains one of the biggest names in the sport even after hanging up his boots in 1998. Widely regarded as one of the greatest to ever play the game, the Australian wing three quarter set numerous records in his playing days.

Debuting for Australia during their tour down under to New Zealand in 1982, David forged a reputation as a world class finisher and a player that could single handedly turn a game. In 1984 he was a part of the Australian touring team of the Northern Hemisphere that went on to complete Australia’s first ever Grand Slam. At the World Cup in 1987 David broke the record for most test tries when he dotted down against France in the semifinal. At the 1991 World Cup, David was joint equal top try scorer and named player of the tournament as he helped Australia to their Maiden Cup victory. The following year he became the first rugby player to score 50 test tries. David went on to play 101 tests for Australia, and his 64 tries stood as an international record until 2016. He also represented Australia in 7s at the Commonwealth Games and numerous HK7s Tournaments. In 2013 David was inducted into the IRB Hall of fame, following his induction into the Australian Sports Hall of fame in 1997. He was made a Member of The Australian Order of Merit in 2002.

Stephen Donald

Do you have a nickname? If so, how did you get it, and is it used on a regular basis?
Beaver. Cruel mates thought I looked like one when we were kids, only my mother these days calls me Stephen!

What is your earliest rugby memory?
Playing barefoot on frosty mornings with my junior club.

Most admired rugby player?
Jonah Lomu.

If you hadn’t of been a rugby player what would you have done?
Probably would have been working at the steel mill in my home town.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hong Kong?
Unfortunately a Bledisloe Cup game in 2010 that didn't go well.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens?
Staying up late as a kid to watch the finals on Sunday night and usually Serevi breaking our hearts.

What costume would you wear to the South Stand?
I always like going as a reindeer to most dress ups, I don't know why!

Prediction for the Men’s and Women’s tournaments this year?
NZ to win both!

Andy Goode
From early in his career, Goode established himself as a frontline goalkicking flyhalf who had an astronomical right boot. Coming up through the ranks at Leicester, Goode represented England at all underage levels before a move to Saracens in 2002. After a season in unfamiliar colours and struggling to find the form he was used to, Goode was welcomed back into the Tigers fold the following year. In the following five seasons he took his game and point scoring to new heights. By the end of his time at Leicester, Goode had surpassed Johnny Wilkinson as the all-time premiership leading point scorer in the English Premiership. He currently sits second and eighth respectively for most points and most appearances in Premiership history.

During his second spell at the club Goode earned International Honours, making his debut in the 2005 Six Nations and going onto play 17 tests, no mean feat considering the mortgage that Wilkinson had on the 10 jersey and his penchant for playing 80.

After attempting to hang up his boots several times during an almost 20 year career, Goode has finally put the lid on his illustrious career. He takes a break from a highly successful rugby podcast with good friend Jim Hamilton and media commitments with the BBC to join us this year.