Hong Kong announce final 12 for Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens

Jamie Hood replaces injured Max Woodward as captain, while three players from new HKRU Elite Rugby Programme (15s) make Hong Kong Sevens debuts

6 April, 2016

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After waiting on a few players to pass late fitness tests, Hong Kong Sevens Coach Gareth Baber today confirmed his final 12-man squad for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

Notably absent is captain Max Woodward, who suffered an injury in Hong Kong's sole build-up tournament ahead of the Sevens last month in Borneo. Woodward is progressing in his recovery but has failed to return to full fitness and will be rested as Baber also keeps a watchful eye on his selection for the final Olympic repechage event in June in Monaco.

"We're obviously disappointed that Max didn't make it into the squad but he pushed all the way and I would say he is only another week or so away from full fitness. Obviously there is an impact on the team and the captain is there for a reason. But credit to the squad it hasn't affected them. It was business as usual and they all know they have a job to do this weekend," said Baber.

For this weekend's World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier competition, played as part of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Baber has turned to an experienced hand in versatile back Jamie Hood, a squad regular, as captain this weekend.

Hood is a former captain of the Sevens team and earns his fifth Hong Kong Sevens selection, joining experienced campaigners Rowan Varty, making his 11th Hong Kong Sevens appearance, Salom Yiu Kam Shing earning his seventh Hong Kong Sevens cap, Alex McQueen (sixth appearance) and Lee Jones (fifth selection).

"It's a great honour to captain this team, but I'm gutted for Max that he hasn't been able to get right for this weekend. Max has been awesome as a captain and he is a huge part of what we have been achieving over the last year. I've just got to try and keep on doing what he has been doing.

"Fortunately we have a side with a lot of experience that can balance the three guys on debut. Players like Varts [Varty], Alex and Salom are all very experienced and even the younger guys like Mike Coverdale and Chris Maize have played a lot of sevens and been in the Stadium on Sevens weekend before. Being captain doesn't change what I have to do out on the pitch and hopefully we'll go out and get the job done," Hood added.

Other squad members selected include Ben Rimene and Cado Lee Ka To – both marking their third Hong Kong Sevens appearance, along with Chris Maize and Michael Coverdale, both of whom will be making their second appearances.

The squad also shows the early impact of the Hong Kong Rugby Union's newly launched Elite Rugby Programme (ERP) – Hong Kong's first ever fully professional platform for fifteen-a-side rugby, with all three ERP players involved in the sevens training squad being selected.

The three debutants include the Hong Kong-born James Cunningham, who arrived at the beginning of the domestic season after playing Rugby Union and Rugby League in Australia, including stints for the Manly Sea Eagles. Cunningham is joined by another dogged forward from the Elite Rugby Programme in Valley's Toby Fenn. Fenn's talented club-mate, Ryan Meacheam – who previously played for Waikato Sevens in New Zealand, also earns a debut appearance in the backline.

"Toby and James are both great ball carriers and they bring some real aggression into the contact area, which is useful while Ryan is a natural sevens player, with good hands and quick feet. All three of them have good rugby brains and I think they will get used to the environment very quickly," said Hood.

"They are three talented players and they have been training with us for a while. The only thing I need to tell them is to enjoy it. It is an incredible experience running out of the tunnel at the Hong Kong Sevens. They have done all of the hard work already and now it's just about bringing that out on the pitch," added Hood.

Hong Kong Rugby Union Men's & Women's Sevens Teams

Men: Jamie HOOD (captain), Michael COVERDALE, James CUNNINGHAM*, Toby FENN*, Lee JONES, Cado LEE, Ka To, Christopher MAIZE, Alex McQUEEN, Ryan MEACHEAM*, Ben RIMENE, Rowan VARTY, Salom YIU, Kam Shing.

Coach: Gareth Baber, Manager: Martin Kibble.

* Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens debut

HONG KONG MEN'S SEVENS MATCH SCHEDULE (Pool Rounds)

Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2016, Hong Kong Stadium

Friday 8 April

Match

Time


Game


Q6

14.50

Hong Kong

v

Cayman Islands

Q12

17.02

Hong Kong

v

Germany

Saturday 9 April

Match

Time


Game


Q18

10.50

Hong Kong

v

Zimbabwe

About HSBC Holdings plc

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 6,000 offices in 71 countries and territories in Asia, Europe, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,410bn at 31 December 2015, HSBC is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations.

About the Hong Kong Rugby Union

Founded in 1952, the Hong Kong Rugby Union is a member of the International Rugby Board and a founding member of the Asian Rugby Football Union. The HKRU is committed to developing rugby in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. The HKRFU is the organizer of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and the only international rugby union to have hosted two Rugby World Cup Sevens events (1997 and 2005). Apart from organising two Bledisloe Cup matches in 2008 and 2010, the HKRU hosted the first-ever British & Irish Lions game played in Hong Kong in 2013. Domestically the HKRU senior XVs league features more than 70 men's and women's club sides each season, as well as leagues and tournaments for tertiary, school, colts and mini rugby to promote and develop rugby at all levels locally.