16 Feb 2020

The Hong Kong Rugby Union’s men’s sevens squad opened their bid to qualify for the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series 2020/21 well with a perfect 3-0 record to top Pool B in the first of the two-leg qualifying pre-series in South America in Mar del Vina, Chile.

Hong Kong beat Colombia and Papua New Guinea handily, before scraping through a tough test with Jamaica to advance to today’s quarterfinals against Uganda (2.24 am Monday).

The 16 man travel squad was pared back to a final 12 on Friday with Max Woodward, Mike Coverdale, Kane Boucaut, Raef Morrison, Toby Fenn, Cado Lee Ka-To, Russ Webb, Jamie Hood, Alex McQueen, Liam Herbert and Salom Yiu Kam-shing selected for the opening leg.

The players omitted from the Olympic qualifier in November due to eligibility restrictions were active in Chile with forward Kane Boucaut and electric back Jack Neville both inserting well in their first sevens action in some time. 

Boucaut scored Hong Kong’s first try of the tournament, breaking through the Colombia defence in the first minute to open a half where Hong Kong would be parked in their opponent’s end. Three second-half tries sprung from the pressure, as Hong Kong pushed past a flagging Colombia 26-0.

Raef Morrison, who fractured his jaw in training shortly before the Olympic qualifier, also looked focussed on his return, with his first half brace driving an eventual 24-0 half-time lead, and a final 36-0 win over Papua New Guinea.

Jamaica, whom Hong Kong had beat in the warm-up to the Olympic qualifier in Chester, UK, proved a more difficult challenge closer to home.

Hong Kong took a 7-0 lead after a try from Alex McQueen in the third minute, but saw Raef Morrison yellow carded to end the half - leaving them at an early disadvantage in the second stanza. A strong defensive effort held Jamaica off the scoreboard while Morrison made amends with a try on his return to push the lead to 14-0. Jamaica scored in the 11th minute to make for a tense finish but Hong Kong stood strong once again to hold out and advance on schedule as Pool B champions.

Jamaica’s score was the only try Hong Kong allowed on the day as they posted 76 points. Papua New Guinea finished as runners-up from the pool to advance to the last eight.

Japan and Germany looked strong as well on day one, both topping their respective pools with perfect records, as did hosts Chile.

Hong Kong face off with Uganda, who finished as runners up to Germany in Pool C after losing 19-12 in the pool decider. Japan face Zimbabwe in their quarter, with Germany hitting out with Papua New Guinea and Chile plays Tonga.

Hong Kong Sevens (Touring Squad): World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series Max WOODWARD (captain)*; Ben RIMENE; Raef MORRISON*; Michael COVERDALE*; Hugo STILES; Cado LEE Ka-to*; Jamie HOOD*; Jack NEVILLE*; Alex McQUEEN*; Liam HERBERT*; Russell WEBB*; Max DENMARK; Sebastian BRIEN; YIU Kam-shing*; Kane BOUCAUT*; Toby FENN*.