Hong Kong Rugby Sevens 2016

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Apr 8-Apr 10
 

Not everyone keeps up to date with the latest rugby news. But Time Out Hong Kong wouldn’t leave its readers high and dry. This cheat’s guide provides a brief overview of the main competition, what the national side is up to and the best places to watch the action if you can’t get a ticket. Which, let’s face it, is most of us…

Team Guide

The ins and outs of the HSBC/Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens can cause migraines (or cue eye-rolling from the schedule-savvy).

Teams are split into two groups comprising two separate tournaments. First, the 'main draw' — 15 World Series core teams and one invited team (South Korea this year), are split into four groups of four teams with the top two in the group going on to complete for the cup and plate and the bottom two going on for the bowl and shield (so there are four accolades up for grabs).

The second extravaganza in this litany of oval sportsmanship comes by way of the 'qualifying tournament' — 12 teams battle it out for a chance to mix it with the big boys at next year's main draw.

POOL A

New Zealand
Injuries, suspensions and extra-time knockouts have wobbled the All Blacks recently, but that hasn’t stopped them winning more than anyone else in 2016.
Key player: Sonny Bill Williams

Samoa
A team with a proud heritage in rugby sevens, the Samoans are no doubt hoping to secure more wins and to improve on their current position of ninth in the Series league table.
Key player: Samoa Toloa

France
With the exception of a strong showing in Cape Town, the French have been disappointing this year. They’ll certainly be looking to do better on the pitch in Hong Kong.
Key player: Terry Bouhraoua

Kenya
Winners of the shield competition for the last two years in Hong Kong, the Kenyans might not be one of the sports big boys, but they’re still tough opponents.
Key player: Collins Injera

POOL B

South Africa
Overall runners-up last season, the Blitzboks have been hit hard by injury – especially the loss of World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, Werner Kok – but still they won their home tournament in style.
Key player: Seabelo Senatla

Scotland
Despite some early loses, Scotland beat England to secure the bowl in Cape Town. There’s a strong chance Scotland could surprise teams other teams in Hong Kong too.
Key player: Joe Nayacavou

England
England have been in indifferent form lately – runners-up in Dubai but fourth in the cup competition in Wellington. Strong support here could spur them on to victory.
Key player: Tom Mitchell

Russia
Russia have been in decent form this year. With a little luck they  could break through to one of the lesser semis in Hong Kong.
Key player: Vladimir Ostroushko

POOL C

Australia
Despite being ranked fourth in the world the Aussie team has endured a somewhat disappointing start to the Series this year. They’ll be looking to get back on track with a strong showing in HK.
Key player: Quade Cooper

United States
Having defeated New Zealand twice in Dubai, the Eagles are not to be underestimated. Despite stiff opposition in Group C, they’ll be looking to upset Australia and progress in the cup.
Key player: Madison Hughes

Argentina
Semi-finalists in the plate last year, the passionate Argentinians have a new look in 2016 with five new players added to the squad.
Key player: Javier Ortega Desio

Portugal
Portugal have had a shaky start to this year’s Seven World Series. Currently ranked 16th, they’ll want to prove in Happy Valley that they belong at this level.
Key player: Pedro Leal

POOL D

Fiji
The reigning World Sevens Series champions, Fiji are currently top of the World Series rankings. They’ll take some beating and have already notched up victories in Dubai and Las Vegas this year.
Key player: Vatemo Ravouvo

Wales
Victors in the bowl competition in Las Vegas, Wales will be determined to avenge their heartbreak in the final of the bowl competition here last year.
Key player: Ethan Davies

Canada
Canada are building for the future and have been drawn in the same group pool as Wales, who beat them 26-19 earlier this year in the first-ever Canada Sevens event.
Key player: Nathan Hirayama

South Korea
Invited by World Rugby to compete in Hong Kong, the Koreans are likely to struggle, but a decent showing could provide the springboard for future success.
Key player: Jang Seong-min

Hong Kong – The local lads

At the Sevens tournament this year, our boys in blue will be playing in the second tier competition, among the 12 World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier competitors. Although Hong Kong qualified for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in 2013, playing with the world’s heavyweights, they haven’t got back to that level since.

Currently coached by former Pontypridd winger, Gareth Baber, Hong Kong are looking to top Pool E and come out on top above Germany, Zimbabwe and  the Cayman Islands.

Japan and Spain are likely to be the biggest obstacle to glory in this competition given those sides’ more established pedigree.

Beyond this weekend, Hong Kong are still hopeful of reaching the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, although they’re likely still wounded by throwing away a half-team lead against the Japanese in the final of the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier back in November. The team can still get to Rio if they come out on top in the final Olympics qualifier to be held in Monaco this June. But with 15 opponents, including the quality of Tonga, Samoa, Spain and Russia, it remains a tall order.

Jill Kligler

For the full fixture schedule, visit hksevens.com.

Where to watch the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens

Our pick of the best places to catch the action if you’re stuck outside the stadium

Sevens Village
The next best thing to actually being inside Hong Kong Stadium, the Sevens Village takes place right across the road where the roar of the crowd still reverberates. Free to all, watch the action on the big screen, and take the chance to meet legends of the game such as HSBC Ambassadors like Brian O’Driscoll and Jason Robinson. Indian Recreation Club, 63 Caroline Hill Road, So Kon Po. Fri 8 Apr, midday; Sat 9 Apr, 8am; Sun 10 Apr, 8:30am; until the final whistle each day.

Chater Garden
Another free event, this time in the lush green surrounds of Chater Garden. In these serene settings partake of the food and drink offerings, grab a selfie with the Hong Kong team mascot, Wai Bei, and stick around for teams dropping by to sign autographs.
Central, Apr 8-10, times vary; check hksevens.com.

Lee Tung Avenue
The recently revamped Lee Tung Avenue is chock full of shops and restaurants, and now the Sevens is arriving too. As well as the obligatory screens for watching games, there’s a special New Zealand focus here. Produce from the country will be available, but more importantly famous former All Blacks Sevens players including Christian Cullen and Sean Fitzpatrick will be on hand on Thursday for a meet and greet and to demonstrate skills.
200 Queen’s Rd E, Wan Chai. Thu 7 Apr, 2pm-7pm; Apr 8-10, midday-7pm.

The Arcade
This is an especially family-friendly viewing area for those without tickets to the Sevens. Naturally there are big screens relaying the action, but for kids there are additional magic shows and balloon twisting performances also available if they’re not taken with the rugger.
The Arcade, Podium, 4/F, Cyberport 2, Pok Fu Lam. Apr 8-10 during games.


The Chop House
If all this outdoors activity sounds too much and you just want to sit somewhere and catch some of the action from a comfy chair with a plate of good food in front of you, then consider The Chop House. Enjoy live broadcasts of the games and the restaurant’s special Beast Feast ($198, plus 10 percent), available all day throught the entire tournament. 
Level 3, Soundwill Plaza II – Midtown, 1 Tang Lung St, Causeway Bay, 2771 3177; the-chop-house.com.

See also

Interview: Brian Stevenson
HK Rugby Union's President on the history of the Sevens and the future of rugby in our city. Read more

 

Hong Kong's Top 10: Rugby Sevens fans
To better prep you for the madness that you're walking into, here's a roundup of the 10 types of fans that you're most likely to see at the event.
Read more

 

HK's Elite Rugby Programme
Meet the players and coaches of the Elite Rugby Programme spearheading the city's rugby dream. Read more

 

 

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