EXCITEMENT BUILDS AS STARS OF RUGBY SEVENS GEAR UP FOR THE SPORT’S BIGGEST WEEKEND IN HONG KONG

Team Hong Kong has some of Asia’s greatest Rugby Sevens players, and the tension is mounting ahead of the biggest weekend of their sporting careers.

04 Nov 2015


No-one is more excited about the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier, taking place at Hong Kong Stadium over the weekend of 7-8 November, than the players themselves. Win, and there’s a spot with their name on it at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games next year.

Playing the biggest games of their lives, the players cannot wait to take to the turf in front of family, friends and an expectant home crowd. With a healthy turnout predicted for the tournament, women’s coach Anna Richards has dismissed claims that the home ground advantage will actually create added pressure for Hong Kong.

“I think the girls really enjoy playing in Hong Kong in front of their family and friends,” Richards says. “Some people have says there is a lot of pressure on them playing at home, but I don't see that. I think there is a bit of home field advantage for our girls.”

The tournament, the first of a two-leg qualifier, will be the first time the Hong Kong Women’s Sevens team have played at the stadium since the 2009 East Asian Games, when Hong Kong won bronze.

For the Men’s Rugby Sevens team, the Olympic qualifying tournament the best shot for a passage to the Olympics. They have the benefit of a draw that has their main rival, Japan, in a separate pool, Pool A. The winner of the final on Sunday, 8 November, will go to Rio. Teams in the minor placings from this weekend’s tournament will go through to a global repechage tournament for a last-chance shot at Olympic qualification.

Rowan Varty has lived his entire life in Hong Kong and cannot wait to play in front of his home crowd.

“We usually only get to play once a year in Hong Kong,” Varty says. “It will be cool because it will be more of a Hong Kong crowd, usually the Sevens is a pretty international crowd and over the years it has been less and less Hong Kong support. Hopefully everyone is coming to support us.”

For Varty and sister Linsday, who was named to play in the Women’s Rugby Sevens team, rugby and the Hong Kong Sevens are a way of life. “We’ve both been to every Rugby Sevens in our lives, even when we were babies our parents took us,” Lindsay says.

“Even though we are sort of expats, we grew up here and I remember playing every single week here at King’s Park back when it was a grass pitch,” Rowan says on Sunday. “It’s pretty cool.”

Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifiers, 7-8 November 2015

Hong Kong Men’s games

Saturday

12:22

Iran

15:11

Philippines

18:22

Sri Lanka

Sunday

11:08

Malaysia

Hong Kong Women’s games

Saturday

11:12

Sri Lanka

14:05

China

16:54

Japan

Sunday

10:02

Kazakhstan

12:44

Guam

ONE SHOT AT A DREAM

For Hong Kong’s Women’s captain Christy Cheng Ka Chi, the idea of playing on Hong Kong Stadium with a place at the Olympics on the line is a precious opportunity.

“Every year we have wanted to do it because we have never had the chance to get into the stadium and it means a lot,” Cheng says. “A special occasion like the Olympics, it could be once in a lifetime for me, I am getting quite close to the end so it might not happen again for me in four years.”

Max Woodward, the captain of the men’s team, is treating the tournament as the biggest test of his career, urging the hometown crowd to get out in force to cheer the team on.

“This is right up there with the biggest game I’ve played, in terms of what is on the line,” Woodward says. “That’s why the boys are a little bit nervous. There is the opportunity to go to the Olympics, but at the same time missing out on it is quite scary. That’s why it means a lot to us and why it’s probably the biggest game I have played in, and a lot of the other fellows as well.”

When Salom Yiu Kam-shing takes the field on Saturday and Sunday, it will be the first step towards living out his lifelong dream of competing in the Olympics. “This will be my biggest game,” Yiu says. “The Olympics is my dream.”

VALUE-PRICED TICKETS

Tickets for the Hong Kong Rugby Union's Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifiers on 7-8 November are available online from Ticketflap. To ensure all of Hong Kong gets behind the teams, the HKRU has priced tickets to make the event inclusive for the entire community.

Adult prices begin at HK$200* for a single-day ticket and a two-day package pass is HK$360*. Entry for children under the age of 12 is free of charge, although parents are reminded to register their child at Ticketflap to receive a complimentary ticket.

The HKRU has announced a 20% discount on ticket purchases for club supporters who enter a special referral code. Each club has the option of passing on the discount to its players, supporters and officials, or use the discount to raise funds.

Corporate guests can enjoy admission, entry to the Executive Level of the stadium, as well as food and beverage options, from HK$550* for a single-day pass.

To book tickets, please visit www.ticketflap.com/events/653

* A HK$10 booking fee will we be charged.

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