Hong Kong Sevens aims to score a try with mobile push ahead of April tournament

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 March, 2016, 7:11pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 March, 2016, 7:35pm

The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) hopes to raise the profile of the sport in the city and beyond with the launch of its own social media mobile app before the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens takes place at Hong Kong Stadium next month.

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Vern Reid, chief executive at the HKRU, said on Friday the new HKSevens app, which will be available by March 16, is designed to provide the 120,000 visitors expected to attend the April 8-10 tournament, as well as rugby fans around the world, with real-time, personalised updates, schedules and match scores.

“This is certainly the most commercial thing that we’re doing other than selling the Sevens,” Reid said. “We’re really looking to grow the game more in the local community.”

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It was not known whether HKRU would also look into alliances with news organisations for its foray into social media.

Founded in 1952, the HKRU has hosted the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens since 1976.

It is a member of the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China. It provides competitive and social rugby opportunities for men and women at every age and skill level, with a thriving community of more than 10,000 players.

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Reid pointed out that team games like soccer and basketball have become so popular in the local community that they are “seen as Chinese games”.

“We need rugby to be seen as a local game, too, because at least of the playing population we have are local people,” he said.

The HKRU’s mobile app was developed in collaboration with global information technology consultancy Accenture under a three-year digital-transformation initiative, which included setting up an automated customer relationship management system.

Steve Willis, the senior managing director for growth markets at Accenture, declined to say how much is being spent on this endeavour.

He said Accenture, which also supported the HKRU’s digital marketing campaigns around the Asian Olympic Qualifiers for the Rugby Sevens in November, has had collaborations with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the RBS 6 Nations Championship in Europe.

“We’ve drawn from our experience with the ARU and 6 Nations, but the Hong Kong Sevens offers a different take because there will be 70 matches played over three days,” Willis said.

The app will be hosted in a data centre of a cloud computing infrastructure provider. IBM’s Softlayer unit is one of the providers now involved in tests, according to Accenture.

Cloud computing enables companies to buy, sell, lease or distribute online a range of software and other digital resources as an on-demand service, just like electricity from a power grid. These resources are kept and managed inside internet-linked data centres.

Technology research firm International Data Corp has forecast total spending on cloud services in Hong Kong will reach US$685 million by 2017, up from an estimated US$251 million in 2013.