How does HSBC feel the face of the Hong Kong Sevens will be different with their sponsorship?
The Hong Kong Sevens is the flagship of the bank's rugby sponsorship portfolio in Asia. We're excited to be back at its heart.
There was a lot of anger in the community when only 4,000 tickets went on sale to the public - 1,000 fewer than last year. The HKRFU defended the decision, saying the tickets went to rugby clubs and its stakeholders. Many people pointed fingers at HSBC?
Ticket allocation is the responsibility of the HKRFU and it is up to them how they distribute the limited number of tickets. We have no more or no less than other sponsors.
The HK Sevens undergoes a radical format change this year as the IRB plans ahead to the 2016 Olympics. Opinion seems to be divided, with critics saying the HK Sevens will lose a lot of its romance. Are you consulted in these changes and what do you think of them?
We are the co-sponsors and so are not involved with the tournament structure or format. That is down to the HKRFU to decide. Personally, I think the changes are exciting. It's just four years until the Rio Games and everyone is starting to have one eye on potential qualification. The opportunity to qualify for core world series team status is fantastic and will make for some thrilling rugby.
What activities do you have planned corporately through the weekend, and during Sevens week?
Our initiatives started way before Sevens week. We created a giant replica of the new Hong Kong team jersey, and have taken it around Hong Kong, to minis' festivals and to schools for people to sign. We've also launched a Dragon Hong Kong Team Mascot. He's been touring around Hong Kong, introducing himself and inviting everyone to think of a name for him. We have brought several rugby legends including Jason Robinson and George Gregan to town at staff and customer events, for special coaching clinics. We have also sponsored the village across from the stadium that offers fans who don't have a ticket the chance to come and watch all the action on a big screen for free.
How does the Hong Kong sponsorship realign the sponsorship of various Asian tournaments and international tournaments?
We have been long-term investors in rugby around the world, and have recently made a strategic decision to focus on golf and rugby - two sports which fit with the bank and our target customers. We became the first ever title sponsors of the Sevens World Series in 2010, and with the addition of the HK Sevens, are now heavily involved in helping to grow and develop the sport, especially in Asia. HSBC has supported the Asian 5 Nations since its inception in 2008, and the new Asian Sevens Series, as well as working closely with both the HKRFU and Asian RFU on various development programmes and coaching tours.
What is your personal involvement with rugby?
I am a proud Welshman, so rugby's in my blood. This is my seventh HK Sevens. I played at school and university but now I cheer from the stands. Rugby is a fantastic sport - especially for kids. It's about team work, camaraderie and integrity.