Jonah Lomu and Beth Coalter to be honoured at Hong Kong Sevens
The two on-field and off-field icons of the tournament passed away in 2015
Memorials will be held for two icons of the Hong Kong Sevens who passed away in the past year – New Zealand great Jonah Lomu and Beth Coalter who was a key driver behind the tournament while she worked for the Hong Kong Rugby Union before joining rugby's world governing body.
Immediately following the tournament’s opening ceremony on Friday, at 17.46, rugby fans in the stadium will lead and represent millions more around the world in remembering two pillars of the game.
Accompanying videos will be played on the big screen inside the Stadium during the commemoration.
“Jonah Lomu and Beth Coalter were two seminal figures in our history who helped make the Hong Kong Sevens what it is today; one taking centre stage on the pitch and one working tirelessly behind the scenes.
“We can’t think of a more fitting way to honour their memories and recognise their immense contributions than with this tribute from the Hong Kong Sevens crowd who have so much to thank them for,” said HKRU chairman Pieter Schats, speaking on behalf of the entire Hong Kong rugby community.
Lomu made his debut Hong Kong appearance in 1994, giving Sevens fans a privileged opportunity to witness a superstar in the making. The towering teenager arrived in Hong Kong as an unheralded youngster but exited the Sevens on the cusp of stardom.
Months after debuting in Hong Kong he was selected as the then youngest-ever All Black at just 19 years and 45 days old, making his 15-a-side debut against France. The following year he cemented his reputation as rugby’s most unstoppable force by scoring seven tries at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.
Lomu last year was named to the tournament’s ‘Magnificent Seven’, the top seven players to have appeared in Hong Kong over the first 40 years of the Sevens.
Coalter played an instrumental role in making the Hong Kong Sevens the international success story it has become.
To honour Coalter, the HKRU has inaugurated a new trophy for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. The eponymous silverware will be named the Beth Coalter Trophy for Newcomer of the Year and will be awarded annually to the player who gives the most outstanding debut performance at the Hong Kong Sevens.
Emblematic of the esteem in which Coalter was held around the world, New Zealand legend Eric Rush commented at last year’s 40 Years of the Sevens dinner in Hong Kong that the Magnificent Seven – the HKRU’s team of the seven greatest players in Hong Kong history – should have included an eighth member in Beth Coalter.