04 May 2022

The expanded training squads for the Hong Kong Rugby Union sevens squad’s European training tour have been announced.

With the squads away for nearly two months (from 8 May to 17 June), which includes tournaments in England and Portugal, (the squad’s first international competition since last November), HKRU head sevens coach Paul John has assembled an expanded squad for the tour.

Forty-three established and aspiring sevens exponents have signed on for the six-week tour, 21 men and 22 women.

The tour provides an exceptional opportunity to prepare for a frenetic international season upcoming for Hong Kong, punctuated by the Asian Games (Sep.), HSBC Rugby World Series qualifiers (Aug.), and the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (Nov.).

Training in the United Kingdom also offers the opportunity to enter both squads into two events on the upcoming UK Super Sevens Series, which takes place in May and June, and into long-running international sevens warm-up tournament in the Algarve in Portugal.

The squads feature most of Hong Kong’s top threats with men’s and women’s captains Max Woodward, Melody Li and Natasha Olson-Thorne leading dangerous players like Max Denmark, Liam Herbert, Russ Webb, Chong Ka-yan and ex-Hong Kong sprinter Hui Manling.

Nine of Hong Kong’s defending men’s gold medal winning Asian Games squad are in the group, while all three of the debutantes for women’s coach Iain Monaghan’s team in the Asian sevens championship in Dubai last November - Sabay Lynam, Gabriella Rivers and Sabay Lynam, return for another taste of elite competition.

Both squads are sprinkled with a few uncapped players as James Sawyer, Bryn Phillips, Liam Doherty, and Chloe and Micayla Baltazar, Cherly So and Julia Mba Oyana look to cross over from Hong Kong’s Premiership ranks to the sevens game.

The need for competitions, including warm-up games with international opposition, is essential to Hong Kong’s preparations for the upcoming 19 th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in September, and the men’s sevens squad’s defence of the city’s historic first ever team sport gold medal won in Jakarta in 2018.

Also looming large on the horizon is the World Rugby Challenger competition for spots on the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series in South America in August. Hong Kong’s men’s team also need to prepare for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in South Africa in mid-September, marking the HKRU’s eight straight appearance at the world championships.

Hong Kong’s women’s squad finished in fifth place in Jakarta, and have sights set on improving that standing at a home Asiad this autumn.

Immediately following the Asian Games, the men’s and women’s sevens squads will pivot to preparing for the staging of the 45th Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in early November, the first international sevens competition to be held in the city in over 3½ years.

HKRU Men’s Sevens Trainingskader (European Tour, Spring Summer 2022)

Max Woodward (Captain) #Seb Brien
Kane BoucautJames Christie
Mike Coverdale #Max Denmark #
Liam Doherty *Liam Herbert #
Kwok Pak-nga, Eric #Harry Laidler *
Lee Ka-to, Cado #Mak Kwai-chung
Pierce Mackinlay-WestCallum McCullough
Alessandro Nardoni #Bryn Phillips *
James Sawyer *Harry Sayers
Hugo Stiles #Russ Webb
Yiu Kam-Shing, Salom #

HKRU Women’s Sevens training squad (European Tour, Spring Summer 2022)

Natasha OLSON-THORNE (Co-captain)Melody Li Nim-yan (Co-captain)
BALTAZAR, Micayla *Chloe CHAN
CHAN Chor-ki, StephanieCHAN Tsz-Ching
HO Wai-on, JessicaHUI Manling
LAM Tsz-yanSabay LYNAM
Julia MBA OYANA *NAM Ka-man
POON, Hoi-yanPUN Wai-yan
Gabriella RIVERSGeorgia RIVERS
SO, Yee-kei Cherly *Rosie WRIGHT

# 2018 Asian Games gold medallist
* Uncapped (sevens)