HK Stadium eyed for Chartis Cup
A successful turnout at the Chartis Cup showdown between the Asia Pacific Barbarians and the World XV at Hong Kong Football Club today could be the start of something new as organisers look at the prospect of moving the game to Hong Kong Stadium next year.
'We will see what the response is to this type of game in Hong Kong before taking the next step, but I have a feeling there is strong support,' chief organiser Jon Phelps said yesterday. 'We want to make this an annual event with a big charity element to it always.'
The move to look at the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium has already received the backing of the sponsors.
'As this grows, who knows we could look at playing at Hong Kong Stadium,' said Les Mouat, the Asia-Pacific regional group chairman for Chartis Insurance.
'Everyone loves to come to Hong Kong and although it is small to start with, this could set the foundation for something spectacular in the future.'
The move to have an annual international rugby event, other than the Hong Kong Sevens, might be viewed as competition for the local governing body, but Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory disagreed.
'I don't look at this as competing against what we are trying to achieve,' Gregory said. 'I applaud them for putting on a high-quality game and hope the community will come out and support it.
'As long as we [HKRFU] keep our games at the highest level, we would love to see more games like this in Hong Kong.'
The HKRFU is committed to trying to stage a second major international event every year - next to the Sevens - and has twice hosted the Bledisloe Cup.
Last year's game between the All Blacks and the Wallabies only drew a crowd of 26,000 at Hong Kong Stadium. In 2013, the British and Irish Lions will visit on their way to Australia to play a game against the (British) Barbarians.
Today will mark the second appearance of the Asia Pacific Barbarians, who made their debut at the GFI Club Tens in March. With designs to inspire the game in the region, the Barbarians, led by former Wallaby No8 Toutai Kefu, will take on a World XV led by former French flanker Serge Betsen to raise money for the Japanese earthquake relief fund.
Organisers have targeted HK$1 million, mainly from ticket sales, although the HKFC has donated HK$100,000. Tickets are HK$300 for adults and HK$50 for children.
Forwards: Deon Carstens (SA), Etienne Reynecke (SA), Graeme Smith (Sco), Mike Holfield (Eng), AJ Venter (SA), John Parker (Eng), Junior Paramore (Sam), Serge Betsen (Fra, capt), Epi Taione (Ton), Aaron Persico (Ita).
Backs: Robbie Shaw (US), Sililo Martens (Ton), Josh Matevesi (Fij), Ben Gollings (Eng Sevens), Sonny Parker (Wales), Mathieu Bastareaud (Fra), Willie Mason (Aus), Josh Lewsey (Eng), Kaine Robertson (Ita), Dan Scarborough (Eng), Lesley Vainikolo (Eng).
Coach: Chester Williams.
Asia Pacific Barbarians
Forwards: Naoroni Mizuyama (Jpn), Tateo Kanai (Jpn), Andy Li (HK), Gareth Hardy (Aus A), Simon Raiwalui (Fij), Greg Rawlinson (NZ), Ross Filipo (NZ), Henry Tuilagi (Sam), Toutai Kefu (Aus, capt), Takuro Miuchi (Jpn).
Backs: Peter McKee (HK), Manny Edmonds (Aus), Steve Kefu (Aus), Seru Rabeni (Fij), Alesana Tuilagi (Sam), Sireli Bobo (Fij), Tom McColl (HK), Vilimoni Delasau (Fij), Rupeni Caucaunibuca (Fij).
Coach: David Campese.