The Narrow Road To Rio
When it comes to rugby sevens and the Rio Olympics, this weekend’s qualifier is key for Hong Kong rugby. Just 24 teams will take part in the sevens tournament in Rio, and the competition is structured so that Asia is allocated just two slots: one for men and the other for women. For the men, this weekend’s victor will go straight to Rio, but for the women, this is the first of a two-step qualifier. There is a second chance in the form of a runners-up play-off scheduled for June next year, but this will be a battle between 16 teams from around the world for just one men’s and women’s place each. Better to win this weekend and get it over and done with.
What Are Hong Kong’s Chances?
Ten men’s teams will compete this weekend, playing in two pools. The Hong Kong men drew pool B – considered the easier pool – together with Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, and Iran. The other pool comprises Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore, and Chinese Taipei. The women’s tournament has changed structure with late dropouts resulting in just one “round-robin” pool to determine the two teams to play the first final.
Japan is the current Asian champion after sweeping all three events on this year’s sevens series. Hong Kong was the men’s champion in 2014 and finished second in the log this season. The men’s squad looks strong featuring 11 of the 12 players who won the Silver medal at the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea.
Japan’s women also finished top of the table in the women’s series, with China in second and Hong Kong finishing tied second but overall third based on differentials. Here’s fingers crossed for Hong Kong.
And Of Course There’s Live Entertainment Too
It should be an exciting weekend and in true sevens spirit there will be live entertainment with Brazilian Dancers, Chinese drummers, and live bands including The Red Stripes, Jack Rabbit Slim, and Vocal Groove/Ela Alegre. There will also be a kid’s area.
Hong Kong Men’s Sevens Squad for ARSQ (13-man squad): Max WOODWARD (captain); Rowan VARTY; Salom YIU Kam Shing; LEE Ka To, Cado; TSANG Hing Hung, Jamie HOOD; Alex McQUEEN; Tom McQUEEN; Keith ROBERTSON; Mark WRIGHT; Jack CAPON; Chris MAIZE; Michael COVERDALE.
Hong Kong Women’s Sevens Squad: Christy CHENG KA CHI (captain), Amelie SEURE, CHENG Tsz Ting, CHONG Ka Yan, KWONG Sau Yan, LAI Pou Fan, Lindsay VARTY, Natasha OLSON-THORNE (vice captain), NAM Ka Man, POON Pak Yan, SHAM Wai Sum, Stephanie CUVELIER.
Things To Know
- 2016 will see the debut of rugby to the Olympics in the form of rugby sevens
- Only 24 teams, (12 men’s and 12 women’s), will take part and only one team (possible two – see point 6 below) will represent Asia!
- The first eight places have already been allocated to the eight top ranked men’s and women’s teams, namely: Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and Team Great Britain in the men’s competition and New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Great Britain in the women’s competition.
- Brazil’s men’s and women’s sevens teams have automatically qualified as hosts.
- Twelve of the remaining places (six men’s/six women’s teams) are decided in six regional qualifiers, where one men’s and one women’s team will move forward from each region to the Olympics.
- The final two places will be determined in a 16-team cross-continental “rugby-off” between the runners-up, to be played in June 2016.
Tickets are still available at $360 per head for a Stadium Entry weekend pass.
Subscribe to receive our weekly newsletter