Tradition pack Tens team with ex-All Blacks Sevens in bid to shake off ‘bridesmaids’ tag
Japan-based club back for another shot at the title after losing back-to-back Cup finals at HKFC Tens
Former New Zealand sevens stars Rocky Khan and Ed Cocker and two-time MVP Kane Hancy will spearhead Tradition YCAC’s charge at the GFI HKFC Tens title next month as the New Zealand-packed squad bid to win the Cup for the first time.
Three-time champions BGC Asia Pacific Dragons (APDs), 2013 winners Penguins and two-time finalists Samurai are among other top contenders at the 31st edition of the tournament, which will be held 6-7 April at Hong Kong Football Club, immediately ahead of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (8-10 April).
After reaching the semi-finals on their 2013 debut, YCAC have lost to APDs in the last two Cup finals and are hoping to prevent their star-studded rivals from recording a third straight title triumph.
While they represent the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club in Japan, the YCAC side assembled for the HKFC Tens has always comprised top-quality Kiwi players, including future and former All Blacks Sevens representatives and players from the ITM Cup, New Zealand’s top domestic competition.
Hancy will be appearing for a fourth straight year, while Cocker and new Manawatu Turbos number eight Mark Atkins are back for a third time. Khan, the first player of Indian descent to play for the All Blacks Sevens, will make his second straight appearance for YCAC.
Simon Ryan, the Japan-based manager of Tradition YCAC, said: “We’ll be bringing a squad with brawn, speed and some X factor. This, in combination with the old heads in the squad, will hopefully provide the formula for something special. At the very least, we plan to entertain the crowd and enjoy ourselves at the same time.
“I expect the usual suspects to again be among the favourites for the title, but any team that makes it through to the Cup quarter-finals is in with a shout,” he added.“This is a special year for YCAC as the club celebrates its 150th anniversary. It’s the oldest rugby club in the Asia Pacific region and on 3 April will host the oldest sevens event in Japan as part of our celebrations.”
Ryan is managing YCAC in Hong Kong for the fourth year, having previously led player-recruitment for Tradition Valley in 2011, when Hancy captained a side featuring Cocker and Khan to victory, beating the APDs in the final.
Hancy was also the winning captain and player of the tournament in 2007 and 2008 when New Zealand Metro beat Penguins in successive Cup finals.