Hong Kong relish tough matches
Hong Kong couldn't have asked for a better draw in their build-up to this year's Asian Championship when they drew regional powerhouses Kazakhstan and Thailand in the preliminary round of the Women's Rugby Sevens.
With this year's seven-a-side Asian tournament being held in Kazakhstan in May, Hong Kong had hoped for a tough round of matches at the March 25-26 tournament at So Kon Po. And when chairperson of Hong Kong Women's rugby Erin Emrick drew Kazakhstan, followed by Hong Kong and Thailand out of the box, the groans from among the assembled squad were quite audible.
'It is a tough group, but we are happy for it will be a good warm-up for the Asian Championship,'' said Emma Holland, the Hong Kong captain who also plays flyhalf for Football Club. 'We have lost to Kazakhstan in the past but every year the gap is closing and hopefully we can draw level soon.''
Kazakhstan won the final of the Asian Championship last year when they beat Hong Kong 34-0. They went on to beat the United States and win the Plate competition in the Hong Kong Women's Sevens.
'We have a young side with a whole bunch of players coming through. This tournament will give them the experience and will be an ideal preparation,'' said coach Andrew Tranent. There are three new faces in the team - Gai Wu hooker Fion Choi, Causeway Bay winger Sharon Lui and Nomads prop Ng Wing-yee.
New Zealand's Aoteora Maoris will return to defend their Cup title. Last year they defeated England 27-0 to win the crown. The English have been unable to return due to other commitments. The format of the tournament will see the top three teams in each pool at the end of a preliminary round robin move into the Cup, Plate and Bowl contests.
The bottom two sides in each pool will contest the Shield. The final of the Cup will be played at the end of day one's programme at the Hong Kong Sevens.
Hong Kong Squad: Emma Holland (captain), Hoty Chan, Fion Choi, Michelle Kolossy, Gabriel Lee, Sharon Lui, Tash McCarroll, Ng Wing-yee, Donna Spence, Cookie Tse.
Women's Rugby Sevens Draw
Pool A: New Zealand (Aoteora Maoris), Australia, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, Thailand.
Pool B: US, Japan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, China.