Injured Cado Lee out of Hong Kong's Sevens World Cup squad
If Edward Snowden had delayed his departure from Hong Kong by 24 hours, he would have had 19 strapping "minders" from the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union accompanying him to Moscow.
Hong Kong's 12-strong Rugby World Cup Sevens squad and seven team officials caught the same flight, Aeroflot 213, which whistle-blower Snowden boarded a day earlier. A shame - Rowan Varty and his men might have received tips on how to slip international cordons, bound to be handy at the Luzhniki Stadium.
The squad - minus late scratching Cado Lee Ka-to - arrived yesterday evening for the event, which starts on Friday. Josh Peters, 19, who will make his senior debut, replaces Lee.
"Cado took a blow to his knee at the China Games qualifiers last month. He had recovered enough to train, but pulled up in training," said coach Dai Rees. "He's devastated, of course, but he understands that there is a lot of rugby still to play this year.
"It's a big ask for Josh to come in at such late notice. But it's a great opportunity for a talented young player who has come through the HKRFU development system and was captain of our successful U20 sevens team last year," added Rees of the Valley scrum-half.
Hong Kong have been drawn with England, Argentina and Portugal in the preliminary group stage. All three are core teams on the HSBC Sevens World Series - Hong Kong failed to join this company at the London Sevens last month - and will be tough obstacles to overcome.
The International Rugby Board along with the Rugby Union of Russia has pulled out all the stops to host a memorable sporting, as well as music and cultural, festival. IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Never before have we taken such a high-profile tournament to a new territory such as Russia. It is a demonstration of our commitment to grow the game beyond its usual heartland and it is exciting that Sevens is growing so rapidly."