01 Oct 2015

Hong Kong Football Club and Natixis, title sponsor of HKFC Rugby Section, are pleased to announce the appointments of William Thomas as Director of Rugby and Phil Bailey as Head Coach, who both join HKFC Rugby Section on a full-time, professional basis.

William Thomas has extensive rugby experience and before joining HKFC worked in Welsh rugby for ten years, initially with the Welsh Rugby Union where he helped to establish and run the national and regional academies before taking over the management of the Welsh Premiership, and latterly as CEO of Welsh Premiership club Neath RFC. He is no stranger to Hong Kong, having represented Wales at the 2001 Rugby 7s and played for the Welsh Crawshays at the 2003 Rugby 10s.

Phil Bailey had a glittering career as a rugby league player, with over a hundred games for Cronulla Sharks and Wigan Warriors, blue ribbon clubs in Australia and England respectively. He has additionally played State of Origin and been capped by Australia, most notable on the British Lions tour in 2003. Phil has since transitioned seamlessly into rugby union, first coaching New York Athletic Club to its American Grand Championships last season and currently with the American Eagles as a coach for the Rugby World Cup being held in England.

HKFC Rugby Section has also been active recruiting on the field over the summer, and has bolstered its squad with professional players from as far afield as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and England ahead of the forthcoming 2015-16 season.

We are delighted to welcome William, Phil and our new players onboard" said Andrew Eagle, Chairman of HKFC Rugby Section. "As we shift into a more professional rugby environment in Hong Kong, it's imperative that we keep ourselves at the forefront of performance and our new additions reflect our determination to this end. We stand on 130 years of history at the Football Club, and are excited to share this period of dynamic growth with our title sponsor, Natixis."

François Riahi, Chief Executive Officer, Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking, Asia Pacific, said, "As HKFC Rugby Section heads into its second season under the Natixis name, we are proud to support the evolution of the club and the impressive recruitment that sets the foundations for the club to continue to thrive and its teams to flourish. In many ways, this mirrors our own story in Asia Pacific, where we are growing our presence in terms of staff and client base, in line with Natixis' commitment to serve its clients throughout the region."

Natixis HKFC has already issued a strong statement of intent for the upcoming season with a 33-8 away victory over Singapore Cricket Club on 5th September in the annual pre-season Inter-Port Cup, retaining the Bali Memorial trophy and representing the club's first win in Singapore for ten years.

The 2015-16 season will kick off on Saturday 3rdOctobyer with Premiership teams playing in a Super Saturday at King's Park. Natixis HKFC will take on USRC Borrelli Walsh Tigers at 3:00 pm in the first match of the day and of the new season.