13th May 2022

[Hong Kong, 13 May 2022]: The Hong Kong Rugby Union sevens squads will have their first international competition since last November on Saturday in the opening leg of the UK Super Sevens Series at Newbury RFC. Hong Kong are well prepared after embarking on a two-month training and competitive camp in the UK earlier this month. The squads have already had a mid-week training session and game simulation with England at their camp at Loughborough University in the build-up.

A hefty contingent of Hong Kong’s top players and potential sevens hopefuls are in the United Kingdom in preparation for upcoming competitions like the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in August and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in September.

Both squads are in action on Saturday in the first of three tournaments they will contest in UK and Portugal. The UK series is known to attract premier international players and teams, and the expectation for this season is high with the return of sevens globally. Coach Paul John’s men’s seven are in Pool D in the 16-team men’s bracket, with opening clashes against the invitational sevens side from international rugby charity Wooden Spoon; the UK Navy’s Sharks sevens side; and UK sevens outfit Karuta 7s.

The field looks strong top to bottom, with a Spanish shadow squad, Espania 7s; former champions UK Army with a heavy representation of Fijian players and which also hosts the closing event of the Series at end June; and top invitational team Samurai RFC. China are also in the men’s competition. John has selected a balanced squad under the steady hand of captain Max Woodward, who has company in the leader’s role with Cado Lee Ka-to named as a co-captain this weekend. Alongside these two experienced campaigners are a coterie of Asian Games gold medallists in Liam Herbert, Hugo Stiles, Eric Kwok Pak-nga and Alessandro Nardoni. 

In the 10-team women’s competition, Hong Kong are in Pool B with Wooden Spoon; Hammerhead 7s; hosts Newbury and Savvy Panthers. Pool A features Samurai, Army Reds and a Bath seven. Melody Li Nim-yan and Natasha Olson-Thorne are again co-captains alongside other squad regulars Au-yeung Sin-yee, Chong Ka-yan, Nam Ka-man, Vivian Poon Hoi-yan and Jessica Ho Wai-on. Two of the tour’s four uncapped players are also selected in Micayla Baltazar and Cherly So Yee-kei, while emerging players Shanna Forrest and Sabay Lynam have also been named for the opening gambit. Women’s coach Iain Monaghan is relishing the opportunity to have some of Hong Kong’s elite women’s players back in an international competitive environment, saying, “It’s been great. Our base at Loughborough is awesome and we are enjoying being surrounded by other international sports and athletes. We had an excellent and really competitive hit out with England this week, and there was some good crossover learning opportunities for both squads.” 

Monaghan is also enthusiastic at being able to have a wider squad in camp and plans to utilize it fully: “This is the most competitive group we have ever assembled. We are all excited to see them develop and grow. We are not here to raise the performance ceiling for a single starting team, but to raise the floor across a wide segment of our elite sevens talent in Hong Kong.

“The invitational teams here will have a host of internationals and top UK players involved, which is great to play against. We are focused on playing to our strengths, and setting new benchmarks for us to build on weekly. The team we have selected for the first tournament is mainly those that have been training regularly at the HSKI the ones left out will play next week with more training under their belt,” said Monaghan from the United Kingdom.

HKRU Men’s Sevens squad (UK Super Sevens Series 2022, Leg 1): Max WOODWARD (co-captain), LEE Ka-to, Cado (co-captain), Harry LAIDLER, Liam HERBERT, James CHRISTIE, Callum McCULLOUGH, Harry SAYERS, Alessandro NARDONI, Pierce MACKINLAY-WEST, Hugo STILES, KWOK Pak-nga, Eric, MAK Kwai-chung, Liam DOHERTY, James SAWYER

HKRU Women’s Sevens squad (UK Super Sevens Series 2022, Leg 1): Natasha OLSON-THORNE (Co-captain); Melody Li Nim-yan (Co-captain); NAM Ka-man; AU YEUNG, Sin-yi; POON, Hoi-yan; BALTAZAR, Micayla; Shanna FORREST; CHONG Ka-yan; HO Wai-on, Jessica; HUI Manling; Sabay LYNAM; SO, Yee-kei Cherly; CHAN Tsz-Ching; LAM Tsz-yan