Hong Kong Women’s Seven out to defend Borneo Sevens title

21 March, 2019

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The Hong Kong Rugby Union’s women’s sevens squad is out to defend its cup title at this weekend’s Borneo Sevens, the last warm-up tournament ahead of next month’s HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier (4-5 April).  

The squad is the first selected by new women’s sevens coach, Iain Monaghan, who arrived shortly before Hong Kong’s appearance at the Coral Coast Sevens in Fiji in January.

“Fiji gave us a baseline as to where the players were. Since then we have had six weeks of preparation and as a result, we can now pick on merit the people who have put their hands up in performance and training. This will be our first small challenge to see how much we have learned,” said Monaghan.

The squad features a mix of youth and experience with long-time standouts Christy Cheng Ka-chi and ‘BB’ Lee Tsz-ting both selected after returning from lengthy injury absences.

“We are confident in their experience and that they can come back in and perform. Sevens is quite rigorous so it is a big test for them; this is a step in their recovery but they are not being treated differently, there is a lot of pressure for them to perform, just as there is on all the girls.”

Seven of the 12 woman squad are returning from last year’s cup winning campaign, including forward Melody Li who enters her first tournament as squad captain. That experienced core paves the way for the continued introduction of some emerging players with three U20s programme players, Maelle Picut, Amy Pyle and Jessica Eden, earning a second tour after appearing in Fiji.

“Jess, Amy and Maelle have really grown in the last six weeks and performed really well at the end of the domestic fifteens season. They are bundles of energy and don’t quite know how good they can become, but they are getting their opportunities now,” Monaghan added.

While Borneo represents another chance to look at players, spaces for the qualifier are up for grabs, says Monaghan: “We have left a couple of players home and they are working hard to keep their hats in the ring, so there will be pressure on this squad in Borneo, knowing that there are players at home who still have a chance to make the selection for Hong Kong next month.”

Apart from the on-pitch performance, Monaghan will also be looking for the intangibles in Malaysia.

“We want to be the fastest team in Asia, but we have to be the hardest working team first. As coaches, we pride ourselves that the group is going to be that little bit stronger than the opposition and be better as a team, and there are a few areas in our game where we can demonstrate that. Hopefully, we will be able to put that into play - and also under stress, in Borneo.

“We are looking for the girls to perform, but the key message has been: you have a freedom to play, so let’s score some tries, but at the same time be disciplined. Let’s see what they can produce with that freedom. They are all hugely excited because they can fully focus on sevens now and know that the big tournament in Hong Kong is around the corner.

“Everyone knows there is pressure on the home teams, but our girls believe in themselves and their ability to perform and are relishing that challenge. That is all we can ask. To accept that challenge is to work harder than our opponents, to work smarter than they do and work for each other. That will give us the performances at the end of the day and we can really challenge that in Borneo and get a good first step on where we want to go as we build towards the Hong Kong Sevens.”

Hong Kong will match up against a few international shadow squads in Japan Pearls, Lady Volcanoes (Philippines) and a high performance side from Singapore.

Hong Kong Squad: Borneo Sevens 2019

Melody LI Nim-yan (Captain); Ivy KWONG Sau-yan; Christy CHENG, Ka-chi; Maelle PICUT; Colleen TJOSVOLD; SHAM Wai-sum; POON Hoi-yan; Jessica HO Wai-on; BB LEE Tsz-ting; Amy PYLE; CHONG Ka-yan; Jessica EDEN.