Hong Kong Sixes organisers want to replicate Rugby Sevens success – but they need a bigger venue
Tournament director Glyn Davies says the Kowloon Cricket Club provides a backdrop and atmosphere that is ‘impossible to beat’
Hong Kong Sixes tournament director Glyn Davies says the Kowloon Cricket Club ground provides a backdrop that is “impossible to beat” but the venue’s limited seating capacity means the event is unable to mimic the growth of the Rugby Sevens.
KCC is again preparing to host the tournament, which is returning in October after a five-year absence, as Cricket Hong Kong attempts to revitalise a competition that has gained global recognition but has been hindered by a lack of sponsorship.
Local cricket veteran Davies said the Hong Kong Sevens benefited from moving to the old Stadium from Football Club in the 80s and then again when the venue was upgraded in 1994.
“The Sevens got so big but the Sixes never did in the same way, even though it has some of the same elements,” said Davies. “The Sevens started at the old Football Club, then they moved to the Stadium, which was knocked down and rebuilt.
“There were a set of happy coincidences as far as the generation of that particular endeavour for the Sevens is concerned and the tournament kept moving on and upwards.
“Unfortunately, the Sixes never really had a viable option to move out and expand the product base and KCC is limited in that regard.
“Still, the background offered by KCC is impossible to replicate anywhere in the world. It’s a stunning arena in the absolute heart of Hong Kong. Nothing comes close to KCC as far as the whole setting is concerned.”
The first tournament was staged in 1992 at KCC and the cosy atmosphere created by the tree-lined boundaries and seats positioned right up to the ropes proved popular with fans and players.
Organisers moved the 1997 tournament to the 40,000-seater Hong Kong Stadium. Although the tournament was a success, the cost of hiring the stadium for two days proved prohibitive and the large swathes of empty seats diluted the atmosphere.
Cricket Hong Kong is hoping to one day have a dedicated cricket ground that can host international matches. Mission Road is an ICC-sanctioned one-day venue but it belongs to the government.
Although KCC is established as the home of the Sixes, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, according to Davies – who was a KCC member for 17 years before switching to Hong Kong Cricket Club because he relocated to the Island.
“When the Sixes first started, the ground was donated for free and there was sort of a gentleman’s agreement and this made it a lot easier and cheaper to organise the event,” said Davies.
“There have been differences of opinion and viewpoints, and KCC also looked at it from a commercial point of view, possibly feeling they should get something out of it as well.
“When it changed from a gentleman’s agreement to a commercial one, things got a bit rocky. But they are fine again now and everyone is happy.”