Hong Kong Women’s 7 set for first stadium showing at Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens

4 April, 2019


Kenya, Brazil, Scotland and Japan advanced as the top seeds after day one of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifiers, with Hong Kong booking its first ever appearance inside the Stadium on tomorrow’s opening day of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens against Japan (11.06).  All action from the Women’s quarterfinals on will be played inside the stadium.


Kenya and Japan look the top threats in the early going, with Hong Kong set to face auld rivals Japan, who were relegated from last year’s world series, in the last quarterfinal tomorrow at 11.06.  It will be a big ask for the hometown side with Japan also the region’s 2016 Olympic representatives, but history has already been made once in this tournament and the team will be out to add another chapter.


With two scratches in Maelle Picut and Colleen Tjosvold 48 hours before kick-off, and entering the competition under a new coach and captain in Iain Monaghan and Melody Li – and with four players on debut, Hong Kong still managed to be in contention after the end of day one, although it took a bit of help from other results to see them through.


Former captain Christy Cheng Ka-chi, only recently returned from injury herself, was added to the final squad on Wednesday after Picut, who failed to pass fully fit, ruled herself out of contention for her Qualifier debut.


Cheng was pleased with today’s efforts, which bode well for Hong Kong’s immediate future, saying, “Today was a really good experience for the young players. They are really talented and we have a strong bond so this is a good lift for us with the Olympic qualifier our team’s top priority this year. Iain is giving the new girls lots of exposure and I was pleased and really impressed with their performance and passion,” she said.


Monaghan echoed Cheng’s comments, crediting his trio of U20s debutants in Sarah Lucas, Amy Pyle and Jessica Eden with a “class” performance.


“Like any young players, they get butterflies at the start of the day, but they have all played their part and have all worked hard to get their spots by rights and it’s good to see them taking their chances now.”


He praised Picut’s decision to stand down in the interest of the team as “mature”, and singled out Lucas, who worked hard to return to fitness after an injury late in the build-up - earning the respect of senior squad members, in another sign that the youngsters, only introduced in January, are already stepping into key roles.


“Huge credit to Sarah, who really worked hard to get back to fitness in time. The squad named her on-pitch captain when Melody was off the field so that’s a hugely impressive tribute,” he said.


That potential will have Monaghan excited about the future, in particular November’s Olympic qualifiers, but the more pressing need is tomorrow against Japan.


“We are going to look hard at ourselves after today. We are still very clear on what we want to achieve and that is never done overnight or in six weeks, but we saw a lot of work out there on the field and the players delivered especially in defence and some of our skill work.


“When it clicks we are really threatening as a team. Now we have to build on that and our physical abilities and become better athletes to take Hong Kong women’s rugby to the next level.”


Hong Kong had the start they wanted against Papua New Guinea but a perplexing refereeing decision upset their early momentum and gave the visitors a look-in.  They took it well, scoring from the initial penalty en route to running up 17 points in a disappointing first half for Hong Kong.


Hong Kong won the second half, posting 14 points in a losing effort, while keeping the visitors to five, but it wasn’t enough as they fell short 22-14.


A Kenya side that was narrowly kept out of last year’s final by South Africa showed that they are a top threat to go one step further, with a heavy 36-5 win over Hong Kong in the second pool match, with Sarah Lucas scoring her side’s only points.


That left Hong Kong needing to throw everything into the effort against debutants Uganda in their final match and they did just that, beating Uganda 26-5 with Chong and captain Melody Li both figuring on the score sheet. That left Hong Kong in joint-ninth position with results in the two final games of the day enough to put Hong Kong through to tomorrow’s party inside the Stadium


Monaghan was pleased with the results and the opportunity presented by the qualifiers:

“We have three or four girls coming back from injury and another three or four on debut so getting that experience is a huge positive. We strengthened the squad immensely today through exposure to competition like this and the girls learn so much from these experiences, so its been hugely positive in that way.


Monaghan is excited about what tomorrow will bring, saying: “More games just like today I hope. You need to be stretched and you are not going to get better without getting some scars along the way. They [losses] are a must to develop tactically, but also, to develop, I don’t want to say character, but a tournament like this reveals the character in the squad already and I think we have seen a lot of it today.”


Hong Kong Women’s Seven Squad:

Melody LI Nim-yan (captain), Agnes CHAN Tsz-Ching, Stephanie CHAN, Christy CHENG Ka-chi, CHONG Ka-yan, Jessica EDEN*, Jessica HO Wai-On*, Ivy KWONG Sau-yan, Sarah LUCAS*, POON Hoi-yan*, Amy PYLE, SHAM Wai-sum.

* Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens / World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier debut


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