While the focus is usually on the men’s Rugby 7s tournament in Hong Kong this time of year (as well as the antics in the South Stand!), the competition for women’s teams is fierce during Rugby Week. This year marks the 18th year that Hong Kong will host the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens (HKWRS), and 2015’s competition is set to be bigger and better than ever. With 12 international teams taking part in a new format over two big days, our Women’s Rugby Sevens Head Coach Anna Richards says, “The Hong Kong Sevens is our showcase event.”
Coach Richards believes that the move to a two-day tournament makes the competition much more competitive and attractive to the international teams, and she’s right, if the calibre of participating teams is anything to go by. Last year’s champions Canada will return, as will Asia’s number one women’s team from China. Also coming into town for the event are teams from Argentina, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Samoa, Singapore and Tunisia. Coach Richards says, “The field looks very strong this year, we’ve seen several of the teams recently in the qualifiers in Hong Kong and we are of course very familiar with the Asian teams.” The Hong Kong Women’s Sevens team, who took the silver medal at the ARFU Asian Sevens series tournament in Hong Kong last summer, is likely to put in a super effort again this year.
The Hong Kong Women’s Sevens squad was announced last week and although missing a few key players due to injury, Anna Richards has been able to put together a strong and experienced team, with Royce Chan Leong Sze as captain, making her tenth appearance in the Hong Kong Women’s Sevens. Says Richards, “The squad is very excited about the competition ahead. The girls love playing at home and it is a great opportunity for them to showcase the improvements we’ve made over the past year,” said Richards.
This year the tournament will be held on March 26th at King’s Park, and Friday, March 27th at The Hong Kong Football Club, before moving up to the Hong Kong Stadium for the cup final. This year, the final will be played under the lights at the Hong Kong Stadium at 17.42pm. In keeping with the HKRFU’s commitment to supporting the development of women’s rugby in Hong Kong and around the world, the HKWRS cup final has been played as part of the men’s Hong Kong Sevens since 1999.
The spotlight each year might be on the men’s tournament but HKRFU is committed to developing women’s rugby in Hong Kong. Ruth Mitchell, tournament director for the HKWRS and director of development for the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union says, “Closer to home, the tournament involves girls from every level of our women’s rugby community with domestic matches included in the schedule and opportunities for young players to volunteer as team liaison officers, ball girls and runners. We want to ensure that the tournament provides an opportunity for younger players to experience the excitement of sevens, and inspires them to stay involved in rugby and take their game to the elite level.”
And that’s how you do the Sevens #LikeAGirl.