Hong Kong women chase World Cup spot
Usually, a women's game between Hong Kong and Singapore would slip under the radar. But that won't be the case tomorrow at So Kon Po when the two national teams meet in a friendly with head coach Dai Rees an interested observer.
Rees' antenna is up simply because the game will be a precursor to next month's Asian qualifiers for the 2010 Women's World Cup with Hong Kong having a realistic chance of making it through.
This is because only four teams will turn up for the qualifiers in Singapore - Kazakhstan, Japan, Hong Kong and the hosts - and they will be fighting for the one ticket to the World Cup. 'Yes, we have a good chance of making it if you look at past results. But I think Saturday's friendly will give a clearer picture of Hong Kong's chances of making it through,' Rees said yesterday.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) has this time made available one place for Asia at the 12-team World Cup in England next August. Already 11 slots have been filled - by defending champions New Zealand, hosts and 2006 runners-up England, France, Canada, South Africa, US, Ireland, Wales, Sweden, Scotland and Australia.
'The IRB invitation went out to around 12 unions in Asia but only four, us included, responded. This structure has made it interesting and we are in touching distance of the World Cup,' Rees said.
The qualifying draw will see Hong Kong take on Kazakhstan, while Singapore meet Japan. The winners will battle it our for the right to represent Asia at the World Cup.
'About 18 months ago, the Hong Kong women went on a tour to Kazakhstan where they played two matches against their national side. We lost the first 8-6 but then won the next one 34-0, so going on those results, I feel we have got every chance of making it,' Rees said.
In the IRB's reckoning, Kazakhstan are the number one women's team in the region at 15s. The last time Hong Kong played Singapore, they won 5-0.
The Asian qualifier will be held in the build up to the Singapore Cricket Club Sevens, with the host's match with Japan and Hong Kong against Kazakhstan played on November 4, with the final in Padang two days later.