13 Sep 2017

The Hong Kong Rugby Union today launched the 2017/18 Men’s Old Mutual International Domestic Leagues under the title sponsorship of Old Mutual International (OMI), a leading provider of wealth management solutions in Hong Kong.

Players from across the HKRU’s 14 Championship and Premiershipclubs joined in today’s league kick-off ceremonyin Causeway Bay.

At the top of a new-look league structure, designed to ensure a steady supply of performance-level players for the Premiership and Hong Kong’s national teams, the Premiership will comprise the six clubs that fought for last year’s honours.

The Premiership campaign will open with a flourish withanotherof the popular Super Saturday line-ups on 23 September at King’s Park. This season’s Old Mutual International Premiership Super Saturdays gather all of Hong Kong’s Premiership sides and supporters for a triple header of top rugby action.

The first day’s play starts at15:00when last season’s League and GrandChampions Societe Generale Valley take on Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers. Then at 16:45Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish are pitched against Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC, and finally, kicking off at 18:30 and with the Broony Quaich on the line, last season’s second-placed finishers Kowloon match up against Natixis HKFC.

In the weeks following, the Premiership sides will battle it out over 10 league rounds followed by Grand Championship quarter-finals (with the top two finishers on bye), semi-finals and of course the Grand Finals on 10 March 2018.

The top six clubs will also each field a team in the revitalised Premiership A league, which provides both weekly frontline playing time for Hong Kong’s emerging stars and outstanding entertainment for spectators.

In addition, the HKRU is establishing practical pathways for talented younger players to move from Community and Championship level rugby to the top tier, through improved communication and playing opportunities.

The Championship and Championship A leagues will feature nine teams each, providing a vital staging post for players to develop skills and fitness in a highly competitive environment. In another development, at the climax of the season, the winner of the Championship will be awarded the Old Mutual International Champions Cup.

At the community end of the spectrum, six teams will contest National League 1, eight each in National League 2 and National League 3, and nine in National League 4.

Dai Rees, Chief Rugby Operations Officer of the HKRU,commented on the league structure saying, “With the support of our partners at Old Mutual International, our objective is to take a fresh look at how we can enhance the rugby performance of our national teams and at senior domestic levels by developing and retaining players from junior through to senior levels.

“This season’s changes help establish a clear player pathway from youth rugby to senior community and performance rugby. The new innovative approach will also facilitate the development of players across the rugby community and foster lasting links and co-operation between Championship and Premiership clubs.”

OMI partners with Hong Kong Rugby to strengthen the domestic game

The new sponsor’scommitment to the ‘Old Mutual International Domestic Leagues’ is expected to broaden exposure andpassionaround the game in Hong Kong, as the involvement of OMI brings some exciting new offerings to the 2017/18 season.

On match days through the season, a Premiership Game of the Week will be live-broadcast on HKRU Facebook. This may be a battle between leading contenders, or a form opportunity for one of the lower teams.

Old Mutual International Premiership Super Saturdays will be held twice during the season, adding even more lustre to what is already a hot ticket.

Attendance at the three-game Super Saturdays is free, as is admission to all Old Mutual International Domestic League matches.

The Super Saturdays will also see the addition of family-oriented activities as well as opportunities to win tickets for some of the top international matches in world rugby.

Old Mutual International’s parent company Old Mutual Wealth is the Principal Partner of England Rugby. That agreement sees Old Mutual Wealth as title partner of the England Men’s and Women’s autumn internationals, the Old Mutual Wealth Series, and marks the first time that England Women have had a title partner for their autumn series.

The season-opening Old Mutual International Premiership Super Saturday on 23 September will see two pairs of tickets for the Old Mutual Wealth Series given away during the day’s play – one pair for the England v Argentina game, and another pair for England v Australia. The second ‘Super Saturday’ takes place on 20 January 2018.

An Old Mutual International Man of the Match award will be presented following each of those Super Saturday games, with a trophy and bottle of champagne going to the player.

In the Championship, teams play 16 games through the season.

A new ‘Old Mutual International Challenge Cup’ will beon the line weekly throughout the season. The Cup holder will each week face a new challenger, offering an exciting extra dimension to the game and the league. The first game of the Challenge Cup will be between last year’s Grand Final runners-up DB Pirates and SCAA First Pacific CWB Tempest on 30 September.

Under OMI’s auspices, a 2015/16 England Grand Slam Jersey and Rugby Ball used in the series have also been donated for auction by the HKRU Community Foundation, which creates and implements youth based programmes in the fields of Education, Social Inclusion, Disability, Juvenile Crime, and Health.TBC at 4pm, otherwise we will need to change the content.

Mark Christal, CEO of Old Mutual International Hong Kong, commented on the partnership saying, “We arethrilled to sponsor the Men’s Old Mutual International Domestic Leagues.Rugby is a sport thatembodies great values including passion, commitment, mutual respect and teamwork, qualities which resonate with our core values. We look forward to working closely with the Hong Kong Rugby Union to help develop and grow the sport in Hong Kong.”

HKRU Chief Executive Robbie McRobbie welcomed the partnership with OMI, and thanked Mr. Christal for his participation, saying, “I look forward to sharing the stage with you at key moments during the coming season, and to working together to support the development and enjoyment of rugby at all levels of the game.”