30 Mar 2022

Facing a pivotal international season, the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s representative sevens squads will travel to the United Kingdom and Portugal for competitions and a months-long training camp in May and June.

The move comes in response to the ongoing limitations on competitive opportunities made necessary by local anti-pandemic measures, and is being supported by the Hong Kong Sports Institute where Rugby Sevens maintains elite sport status.

The need for competitions, including warm-up matches against international opposition, is essential to Hong Kong's preparations for the upcoming 19th 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.

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.

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, while Hong Kong's men's team also need to prepare for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in South Africa in mid-September. Hong Kong have qualified for every Rugby World Cup Sevens since the inception of the world championship in 1993.

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.

Given the importance of these competitions to both the Union and the city, the HKSI and HKRU have decided to send the men’s and women’s squads overseas for two months. The current planning is for the team to be stationed abroad through the end of June.

Hong Kong Rugby Union General Manager of Performance Rugby James Farndon said, “As restrictions tighten in Hong Kong, many of the HKSI’s High Performance Sport Programmes are taking their athletes and coaches overseas to ensure that they can maintain competitive advantage for their respective international competitions.

“Given the importance of our upcoming international tournaments we believe that it is essential for the teams to have optimal preparation including matches against premier international competition. The HKSI's approach to financially support overseas training camps like this is highly appreciated by the HKRU,” added Farndon.

Training in the United Kingdom also offers the opportunity to enter both teams into two events on the upcoming UK Super Sevens Series, which takes place in May and June across the United Kingdom, and into long-running international sevens warm-up tournaments in Lisbon and the Algarve in Portugal. These will mark the first international competitions for the teams since November 2021.

The squads will depart on 6 May and will base at Loughborough University, an institution highly regarded for its sports programmes and with excellent training and rehabilitation facilities for the duration of the trip.