Win proves timely boost for HK women
Hong Kong's campaign for honours at the Cable & Wireless Worldwide Hong Kong Women's Rugby Sevens this month received a timely boost when a 12-strong local squad captained by Royce Chan Leong-sze won the Guam Sevens last weekend.
Five-times champions Aotearoa Maori from New Zealand will be favourites to lift the title at the 12-team tournament on March 26 at the Hong Kong Football Club - the final will be held at Hong Kong Stadium during an interlude at the Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens - but the local team will be on a high after this victory.
The Hong Kong women defeated a Japan Seven, mostly made up of players who took part at the East Asian Games in December, in the final to complete an unbeaten run in the two-day tournament.
'It was a very good performance,' assistant coach, Andy Yuen Kin-ho said. 'It was especially pleasing to beat Japan, who fielded virtually their national side.'
Hong Kong, represented by most of the squad who won a bronze medal at the East Asian Games, were strengthened by the return of Aggie Poon Pak-yan from a knee injury, and Becky Underwood and Amelie Seure.
Underwood won the Player of the Tournament award thanks to her seven tries, but neither she nor Seure will take part in the Asian Games in Guangzhou in November as they are not eligible.
'We sent our East Asian Games side to Guam but strengthened it with a couple of players who are not eligible to play at the Asian Games. Their presence helped the rest of the squad,' HKRFU head coach Dai Rees said.
Underwood and Seure are almost certain to play a role in the Hong Kong Women's Sevens. The team will be announced later this month.
Due to the IRB Women's Rugby World Cup being held in England in September, this year's tournament field will host a mixed roster of highly competitive national teams from around the Asia-Pacific region and some of the most prestigious club and invitational sides.
The 12 participating teams include eight national representative sides from Asia, led by reigning IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 Bowl champions China, who recently beat the US Eagles in a major upset at the Las Vegas Sevens, and Kazakhstan, Asia's sole direct entry to the IRB Women's Rugby World Cup (15s) this year in London. Other Asian teams include the Arabian Gulf, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.