Hong Kong Teams Announced for Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens & Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens

1 April, 2016

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The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) today announced the men's and women's sevens squads to compete in next week's Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (8-10 April) and Hong Kong Women's Rugby Sevens (7-8 April).

Much is at stake for both squads next week, with the men taking another run at qualifying for a spot on next season's HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Hong Kong will take part in the 12-team World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier played as part of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, with the winners earning automatic promotion to the global circuit.

The women will be out to reach their first cup final in the Hong Kong Women's Rugby Sevens (HKWRS) on Thursday and Friday, (7-8 April) at King's Park and Hong Kong Football Club respectively. Hong Kong reached the semi finals in last year's competition, narrowly missing out on a spot in the final, played in the Hong Kong Stadium as part of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, on Friday evening at 17.24.

Both teams will be using next week's competitions as preparation for the final Olympic repechage tournaments in June to determine the 12th team in each of the men's and women's competitions at the Rio Games.

"On behalf of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, I congratulate the final squad members selected. I am sure that our elite rugby sevens athletes will enter their vital competitions next week with an extra bounce in their step knowing that the entire Hong Kong community is rallying around them. As a player who participated in the Hong Kong Sevens, I can vividly remember my own excitement at being selected and I wish all of our players the very best of luck, a memorable experience and much personal and team success next weekend," said Pieter Schats, Chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Union.

In addition to being co-title sponsors of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, HSBC are also the Principal partner of the Hong Kong Rugby Union National Teams.

"HSBC shares in the pride and excitement of the Hong Kong community as our homegrown team goes for glory at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2016 next weekend, and takes a shot at the World Rugby Sevens Series tournament qualifier. As a long-term and proud sponsor of the Hong Kong Rugby teams, we have seen the steady growth of the sport in the community as well as on the global stage. This is a great moment for the Hong Kong teams and we wish all the players and fans the best tournament ever," said Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship and Events, HSBC.

Women's Seven hunting for first Hong Kong Stadium appearance in HKWRS

After reaching the Cup semi finals in their best ever appearance at their home event in 2015, coach Anna Richards and the Hong Kong Women's Seven will be intent on going one step further to reach the final played under the lights at the Hong Kong Stadium.

Hong Kong has been drawn with Asian champions Japan, currently participating in the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, Argentina, Thailand and Sri Lanka in Pool B. The ten-team format means that Hong Kong must finish first or second in the pool to equal last year's high-water mark.

Chong Ka Yan and Lee Tsz Ting (l and r) are making their HKWRS debut.Hong Kong will enter the tournament with a new captain in the dynamic Natasha Olson-Thorne after injuries sidelined long-time captain Royce Chan Leong Sze and last season's able stand-in, Christy Cheng Ka Chi.

Olson-Thorne provides pace, power and an experienced hand after serving in the vice captain's role in last November's Olympic sevens qualifiers and having appeared in five Hong Kong Women's Sevens previously.

Richards has also been able to call upon an experienced selection with vice captain Candy Cheng Tsz Ting, who marks her ninth HKWRS appearance in 2016; Colleen Tjosvold on her third HKWRS, halfback Lindsay Varty (five appearances) and forward Christine Gordon who marks her sixth HKWRS and first Hong Kong selection since last March. Aggie Poon Pak Yan who electrified on last year's Asian Sevens series, scoring 17 tries and 121 points from two tournaments last season has been handed her fifth HKWRS cap.

On the other end of the scale, coach Richards has given debut appearances to Chong Ka Yan and Lee Tsz Ting.The two up and coming stars featured in last year's Asia Rugby Sevens Series with Chong earning caps in Qingdao and in both stages of last November's Olympic qualifiers in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Lee Tsz Ting appeared in the Beijing Sevens in 2014 and last year in Sri Lanka.

Men's Seven face tough Pool challenge

The Hong Kong Men's Seven is again one of the top contenders for promotion to the international circuit, but have a tough path to the final after being pooled with Zimbabwe, last year's losing finalists in Hong Kong, dark horses Germany and an unknown quantity in Cayman Islands on their tournament debut.

With some injury concerns in the squad, coach Gareth Baber has announced an initial squad of 14 players to be whittled down over the coming week to the final 12 taking part in the World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier.

Max Woodward leads the squad into the Stadium for a second year, surrounded by an experienced squad, including former captain Rowan Varty, marking his 11th Hong Kong Sevens appearance and another former captain in Jamie Hood on his fifth Hong Kong Sevens selection.

This trio is joined by six players from Hong Kong's last international competition, November's Asia Sevens Qualifiers for the 2016 Olympic Games: Jack Capon, Michael Coverdale, Cado Lee Ka To, Chris Maize, Alex McQueen and Salom Yiu Kam Shing. Baber has layered even more experience in the side with call-ups for gritty forward Lee Jones and utility back Ben Rimene. It is the fifth Hong Kong Sevens cap for Jones and the third for Rimene.

Nine of the 14-man squad are born in Hong Kong including Capon and James Cunningham, both of whom will be making their Hong Kong Sevens debuts. Capon, one of 11 elite athletes training at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, has been a member of the squad for several seasons but earns his first selection for the Hong Kong Sevens.

Cunningham joins Toby Fenn and Ryan Meacheam in the squad as the only players under consideration who are not part of the elite programme at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, coming instead from the Hong Kong Rugby Union's newly launched Elite Rugby Programme – the SAR's first ever fully professional fifteen-a-side platform. Cunningham was tipped along with fellow forward Toby Fenn, for Hong Kong's warm-up tournament in Borneo in March. Fenn picked up a shoulder injury in Borneo and will be assessed throughout the week ahead. Meacheam, from New Zealand is a former Waikato Sevens representative. The three promising club players have been in training with the Hong Kong Sevens squad for the past two months at the Sports Institute ahead of next week's kick-off of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.


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


Men:
Max WOODWARD (captain), Jack CAPON*, Michael COVERDALE, James CUNNINGHAM*, Toby FENN*, Jamie HOOD, 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.

* Potential Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens debut



Women: Natasha OLSON-THORNE (captain), Candy CHENG, Tsz Ting (vice captain), CHONG Ka Yan*, Adrienne GARVEY, Christine GORDON, Colleen Tjosvold, KWONG Sau Yan, Melody LI Nim Yan, LEE Tsz Ting*, NAM Ka Man, POON Pak Yan, Lindsay VARTY.

Coach: Anna Richards, Asst. coach: Mark Komar, Manager: Dannii Cheung.

*Debut Hong Kong Women's Rugby Sevens

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

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

Thursday 7 April, King's Park

Match

Time


Game


3

10.00

Hong Kong

v

Sri Lanka

8

13.00

Hong Kong

v

Argentina

15

15.50

Hong Kong

v

China

Friday 8 April, Hong Kong Football Club

20

10.00

Hong Kong

v

Japan

HKWRS Cup Final, Friday 8 April, Hong Kong Stadium

29

17.24

TBC

v

TBC