Pool A - Pool F

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:00am

POOL A


NEW ZEALAND


Manager: Ross Everiss


Coach: Gordon Tietjens


Players: Sosene Anesi, Brad Fleming, Tafai Ioasa, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Matua Parkinson (c), Eric Rush, Anthony Tuitavake, Amasio Valence, Nathaniel Walker, Justin Wilson, Rudy Wulf


There was a time when we booed the Aussies, but loathed the Kiwis' clinical flair as much as their fans' dour smugness at winning, year after year. No longer as ominous as they were in 15s rugby, yachting, cricket, or anything really, New Zealand are still world 'Suvvens' champions and will remind the folks back home, still aglow from the Oscars, that a 'set' involves a referee and a huddle of six Sevens players, not a production crew, camera and lots of make-up, and a 'take' is something that has to be right first time, not a re-shot from a different angle. Watch for signs of excessive hobbit-like hair over the tops of the shorter Kiwis' socks but follow them past France and Argentina in the Cup before they thrash England, 27-19, in the final. Cheer


ITALY


Manager: Marco Gabrielli


Coach: Fabio Roselli


Players: Aldo Anthony Birchall, Steven Bortolussi, Carlo Caione, Javier Dragotto, Pablo Calanchini (c), Antonio Mannato, Francesco Marangon, Luca Martin, Samuele Pace, Tomas Pucciariello, Kaime Paul Robertson, Alessio Scapoli


Always worth watching because you never quite know what these unknowns will be up to. If they play as fast and furiously as their reputation suggests on their return to Hong Kong, the Italians might


only be stopped by one All Black, two Americans or three patriotic pastry chefs at Grissinis this weekend. They will win the Bowl by over-whelming Singapore, edging Hong Kong and then pipping the Cook Islands, 24-21, in the final and burst into tears when they collect their trophy. Cheer, but only in Gucci, Armani and Prada in the corporate boxes, and not within range of the beer-swirling Aberdeen and Kowloon mob on the South Stand


UNITED STATES


Coach: Mike Coyner


Asst Coach: John McKittrick


Players: John Buchholz, Todd Clever, Joseph Davies, Joseph Fradella, Riaan Hamilton, Alexander Magleby, Stephen Meek, Jovesa Naivalu, Jone Naqica, Thomas Sanders, Kevin Whitcher, David Williams


Big, fast, highly organised and athletic, the American team have the tendency to drive deep into opponents' halves, run out of ideas when they get there and prove extremely vulnerable to the creativity of smaller opponents on the break.


The Bowl champions seem to be heading for the Plate, which they have won three times, but won't this time because the fresh-faced Aussies will prove better tacticians in the semi-finals, 31-27. Couldn't happen to nicer chaps. Boo, but don't call the US Marine Band pussies, or they'll call for air support


JAPAN


Manager: Jun Sano


Coach: Kazuhiko Honjo


Players: Yuta Imamura, Yusuke Kobuki, Ryohei Miki, Kilive Naloli, Yuki Okuzono, Katoni Otukolo, Yohei Shinomiya, Kenji Shomen, Tomohiro Yamaguchi, Eiji Yamamoto, Hiroki Yoshida, Takashi Yoshida


As Hong Kong rugby tourists will tell you, Japanese teams never, ever give up, so look forward to some dogged defence against the Kiwis, meticulous handling in the revenge crunch with the Americans and the instant, expressive celebration of sublime running against Italy by some of the most beautiful girls in the stadium. Heading for a Bowl semi-final defeat by the Cook Islands, 21-32, after crushing Chinese Taipei.


Cheers or boos will spoil your image if you are going as Hello Kitty, Dear Daniel or one of those big-eyed cartoon schoolgirls in tight blouses and short skirts. But do cheer if you're in your happicoat


and sandals, getting blotchy on beer in the West Stand with a covey of over-worked, man-deprived Osaka shipping clerks from North Point. You'll probably be on to a winner, unless your better half happens to be watching the telly.


POOL B


ENGLAND


Manager: John Elliott


Coach: Joe Lydon


Players: Simon Amor, Geoff Appleford, Neil Baxter, Phil Dowson, Ben Gollings, Richard Haughton, Kai Horstmann, Peter Richards, Pat Sanderson, Dan Scarborough, Rob Thirlby


Don't expect this gang to entertain you until sometime after Sunday lunch. The champs will probably moderate their destruction of China, in the interests of trade, to about 30 points, yawn through the


Telegraph crossword in their 50-point humiliation of Scotland and allow a couple of tries while they take a manicure during their thumb-twiddler against Georgia. Then, when they have brought the


heady optimism of Kenya to a painful conclusion in the Cup quarter-finals, England might focus on the reason for their trip; they'll tonk South Africa by 22 points before tea, much to the delight of the paunchiest, blousiest, noisiest and beer-sodden fans in the stadium. Then they'll let those nice New Zealanders wallop them in the final, 27-19, just in case Prince Harry gets caught on a bender and is forced into a quiet year's community work in Tokanui. Boo


GEORGIA


Manager: Frederic Austrui


Coach: Zaal Lejava


Players: Irakli Abuseridze, David Bolgashvii, Giorgi Elizbarahvili, Irakli Giorgadze, Irakli Gundishvili, Vassil Katsadze, Badri Khekhelashvili, Grigol Labadze, Irakli Modebadze, Dimitri Pavlov,


Shota Sakvarelidze, Gregoire Yashvili


Unlikely to be on many fans' minds, until they realise the homeland of Josef Stalin and Eduard Shavarnadze has played lelo burti, a 15-a-side contest involving a heavy ball and a bit of wrestling for


at least 2,000 years. You can make the Georgians feel at home by chanting 'Lelo, Lelo Sakartvelo', ('score a try'), telling the beer girl: 'A jug of Kazgebi [Georgia's local brew], please', but not until 11am when you've already taken in a couple of jugs of beer. Classical scholars might note that Georgia's ancient name was Colchis, where men were men, slave girls were beautiful rugby fans,


sheep were gilded and Jason sought the Golden Fleece, which is nowadays somewhere near Sham Shui Po MTR.


This tough, dedicated side will defeat Scotland but fizzle against the faster, bigger and more technical Canadians, 12-9, in the Plate semi-finals. Biffo rating high; technical skills: haymaking. Cheer any rough stuff, but mums, shield your young'un's eyes if you really do want to get the little lad from under your feet on Sunday mornings. Hong Kong's mini rugby players aren't violent, but hell could break loose in Sandy Bay if Little Johnny picks up on the robust Georgian style.


SCOTLAND


Manager: Jonathan Steel


Coach: Rob Moffat


Players: Paul Boston, Kelly Brown, Oliver Brown, Malcolm Clapperton, David Gray, Colin Gregor, Mark Lee, Calum MacRae, Alastair Murray, Andrew Turnbull, Kenny Sinclair, John Weston


Home from home but in for a couple of hidings and an easy game against China before a quick Plate quarter-final collapse to Georgia, 21-18.


The inventors of the shortened game play attractive, tactical rugby but, put simply, not well enough. Keep a watch on the kilted crowd, for behind every few sporrans lies a South Stand blonde who could colour in your tartan or a physio redhead who might tweak your dirk from your sock.


Cheer in the corporate boxes. Fall over by noon in the South, East and West Stands


CHINA


Manager: Zhong Min


Coach: Zhen Hongjun


Players: Chen Jianchun, He Zhongliang, Jiangxu Ming, Li Yanyu, Ling Zhonghua, Song Guifeng, Yuan Feng, Wu Zhenling, Zhao Guang, Zhang Heng, Zhang Zhiqiang, Zhu Peihou


Hong Kong's favourite team look forward to a bruising preliminary round, but the China squad are much improved, eager to learn and will appeal to anyone who loves a gutsy underdog.


In the unlikely event of the mainlanders winning the ball, spectators might don their sunglasses for a brief, blinding flash as the Chinese-language press seek a fleeting, politically correct record of


a home player in possession. Hong Kong will eliminate them, gently, in the Bowl quarter-finals, 17-10. Boo behind a facemask, not because of Sars, but so the cameras don't spot you.


POOL C


SOUTH AFRICA


Manager: Dion O'Cuinneagain


Coach: Paul Treu


Players: Bennie Adams, Stefan Basson, Marc de Marigny, Danwell Demas, Kabamba Floors, Fabian Juries, Akona Ndungane, Mzwandile Stick, Wayne van Heerden, Jose van Rensburg, Jaco van Schalkwyk


Third in the standings on 48 points, the speedy, classy South Africans can take any team in the tournament, if they want to. Enjoy their entertaining game against Samoa in the Cup quarter-finals and


then watch them bow to the English in the semis 27-5. Their fans don't talk much, but if they share their biltong, cut it small or you'll be masticating all week, or feel the loss of your fillings when the 'babalas' wears off on Wednesday. Cheer


COOK ISLANDS


Manager: John Wichman


Coach: Damien Beddoes


Players: Francis Epati Kolatu, Alistair Newbigging, Beniamina Nga Maaka, Te Vii Ngametua, Richard Piakura, Terry Piri, Tomakanute Ritawa, Kiliona Samania, Junior Tapurau, Ngatokotoru-Noopall Vakai, George Woonton


Don't boo at the yellow and gold of the Cooks' players, for they represent a New Zealand-dependent archipelago in the Pacific, and are not Aussies at all. They have come a long way from idyllic Rarotonga, the four-beach-buggy haven where corporations dump time-servers who might have screwed up in Port Moresby. They won a silver medal in last year's South Pacific Games and they will see off Thailand and Japan before an honourable 24-21 defeat by Italy in the Bowl final. When you lend your support, shout: 'Kia Orana', which means 'May you live long' to the islands' 14,000 population, but could be interpreted by elements of the Cooks' 88-strong rugby community as:


'Pass the ball quickly, and run like hell' against rather fierce South African opposition. Cheer


KENYA


Manager: Gordon Anampiu


Coach: Bill Githinji


Players: George Asego, Benjamin Ayimba, Charles Cardovilis, Allan Makaka, Dennis Mwanja, Steve Ndiritu, Felix Ochieng, William Odongo, Newton Ongalo, Lucas Onyango, Oscar Osula, Victor Simiyu


Don't be fooled by the languid charm of the East Africans, because they have the tendency to pounce on unsuspecting sides with the alacrity of a hungry lion in the Masai Mara. So brace for the twitch


of sweaty, Mandingo-black muscle crash against the hapless carcass of unsuspecting preliminary-round quarry. Bay for blood, until the English zap them in the Cup quarters, 32-12.


THAILAND


Manager: Col. Jeradej Sittirpaneet


Coach: Joshua Steven Kala


Players: Natthawut Ayuwan, Paisak Chuekumhot, Pichet Jettanakul, Tanyavit Kuasint, Suwat Mapijan, Theerapol Nongwa, Sirisab Pathomrat, Sumamon Phairot, Sarayuth Thiengtrong, Kitti Wangkanai, Nantawat Wongwanichsilp, Chaiyan Yamklad


The presence of Melbourne's Unquenchables, the Bangkok Bangers and Shanghai Shaggers at the Bangkok Sevens continue to endorse Thailand's status as a world rugby hub. But the absence of Malaysia and Sri Lanka from this year's event means Thailand's mostly military selection must hope they can survive a hard first round and that the Cook Islands conserve their energy in the 36-0 Bowl thrashing on Sunday. The Thais are dedicated but still more wais than wherefores on the pitch. Order another jug, or wai at the porcelain. Cheer


POOL D


CANADA


Manager: Rod Holloway


Coach: Richard Suggitt


Players: Matt Cohen, Michael Danskin, Derek Daypuck, Marco di Girolamo, James Douglas, Jesse Frender, Anthony LaCarte, David Moonlight, Anthony Richmond, Ryan Smith, Christoph Stubin, Shane Thompson


Rough, tough, solid and nice, the Plate champions play Sevens with all the enthusiasm of frisky huskies on the Iditarod. But watch the home crowd. Will they back the Vancouver or the Hong Kong end of their property portfolios? Study their reaction to either side's tries and you might gain a valuable insight into the plot ratios and yields of these respective markets, and note where some spectators' loyalties really lie at the height of Hong Kong's 'patriot' debate.


Will brush South Korea aside but the bruiser against Georgia will sap them for a ding-dong, 23-21 Plate final defeat by Australia. Cheer, bodycheck your friends - but not Canadians - or rub noses with the person on your left


FIJI


Manager: Usaia Daunivalu


Coach: Sanivalati Laulau


Players: Filimone Bolavucu, Ilaisa Bose, Jone Daunivucu, Lemeki Duidomo, Mosese Duinadamu, Ratu Temesia Kavaia, Poniipate Katololo, Mika Leawere, Mesake Davu, Saimoni Rokini, Nasoni Rokobiau, Mosese Yabakitini


The Commonwealth Games silver medallists now seem solid semi-final stock who tend to baulk at the big time. You might wonder how the pacy former champions will perform against Argentina in the Cup quarter-finals. Save those brain cells for another jug; Fiji will fail again, 27-18, as the legacy of Waisale Serevi fades with every fumble. Boo


PORTUGAL


Manager: Eduardo Trigo Moraes


Coach: Vasco Durao


Players: Joao Abreu Lima, Bernardo Aguiar, Pedro Braga, Diogo Coelho, Valter Ferreira, Francisco Fontes, Paulo Goncalves, Francisco Moreira, Antonio Pinto, Ricardo Redondo, Francisco Sepulveda


Hong Kong and Canada fans, be warned; the Portuguese are no longer the pushovers of old. They pushed Argentina close (12-10) in Cardiff last May and splattered Hong Kong (29-0) in Sri Lanka in 2002.


Rivals might watch their defence against an improving, determined side who can travel as fast as a jug of rose to fragrant heads in the corporate boxes and aren't finished until the fat fado lady sings. In


Portugal's case, this will be quite soon, courtesy of Australia, 28-12, in the Plate quarter-finals. Cheer


HONG KONG


Manager: Henry Louie


Coaches: Dallas Seymour, Rodney Mclntosh


Players: Paul Dingley (c), Carl Murray, Andrew Chambers, Chan Fuk-ping, Stuart Denton, Alexander Gibbs, Jason Going, Chris Gordon, Lee Cheuk-yin, Kris Marin, Andrew Wong Kee, Aleksandar Zenovic


The lads from the local leagues know they are in for a bruising against Fiji and Canada but you can bet they will give their all for their club and workmates in the crowd this weekend. Don't expect


miracles against Portugal but instead hope Our Brave Boys endure their preliminary round maulings for another determined crack at the Bowl. As you watch the Chinese-language press huddle around


stamp-icon Chan Fuk-ping and Lee Cheuk-yin in search of a local hero, you might consider two realities: that Hong Kong clubs don't give a stuff what colour you are as long as you pass the ball every Saturday; and, as the rest of the squad shows, nearly seven years after the handover, that you don't have to have three asterisks - denoting Chinese race - on your ID card to willingly take knocks for this place. Cheer your heroes, Hong Kong; they need all the help that they can get this weekend, particularly to prevent a tortuous 28-10 Bowl semi-final defeat by Italy


POOL E


FRANCE


Manager: Raymond Rebujent


Coach: Thierry Brunet


Players: Julien Carraud, Johan Dalla Riva, Renaud Dulin, Laurent Ferreres, Vincent Forgues, Gilles Gironella, Bruno Hiriart, Franck Laquet, Davy Larguet, Martial Moulinier, Brice Salobert, Olivier


Toulouse


French fans used to put a cock on the pitch as a mascot and invite the event security guards to catch it. The latest bird-flu outbreak might have wrung the neck of a repeat of the well-loved So Kon Po


Keystone Cop routine, but the French could wipe the smiles off the faces off the Argies and everyone else in their group for real.


Having won the Plate twice with consistently good, if occasionally temperamental teams of Sevens specialists, France could be good enough for a Cup semi-final, if their local compatriots allow them


to get to bed early. But when you come from a country with the best food, wine and hospitality in the world, it's very hard to pack down on pasta and bananas like the Kiwis. Face a long Sunday afternoon in the stands after a convincing Cup quarter-final elimination by the Kiwis, 30-10, as soon as all the blind referees have been herded back into their enclosure after the marchpast. Boo the players, but pity the taitais who still feel the need to flaunt their genuine French designer kit in those gilded cages, the boxes


ARGENTINA


Manager & Head Coach: Oliva Herman Rauco


Coach: Ricardo Paganini


Players: Matias Albina, Juan Martin Berberian Bianco, Francisco Bosch, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Ignacio Gauthier, Pablo Gomez Cora, Santiago Gomez Cora, Francisco Leonelli Morey, Lucio Lopez Fleming, Sebastian Romagnoli, Santiago Sanz, Federico Serra Miras


Rapid on the break and tough in the tackle, the Argies ran rings around New Zealand 21-12 to win the previous round of the IRB Sevens circuit in Los Angeles in February. But Argentina hadn't done much on the tour until then and jetlag could dull their performance, as usual, by Sunday. Not that many Hong Kong Sevens fans mind. For all the burly Argentinians' passionate yearnings to be taken seriously at


sevens, they are still the world's sexiest side in shorts. So when they take to the field, watch for the gratuitous, lascivious displays of affection from scantily clad, over- worked MBAs, NET teachers or


aircrew without a life seeking the realisation of many a fleeting fantasy about the smell of the pampas, prime beef and a numbness in the saddle that's really been caused by too many week nights with all


the other saddos spinning in the gym. Cheer, or if you are so inclined, take an East or West stand seat by the tryline to catch the strain of a Latin rump on tight shorts, and shout: 'Yau-mo Gaucho,


ah!' when the Kiwis eliminate them 19-10 in the Cup semis


SOUTH KOREA


Manager: Chung Hyung-suk


Coach: Seo Chun-oh


Players: Kim Young-nam, Park Chan-sik, Lee Kwang-moon, Kim Se-woong, Yang Young-hun, Kim Hyung-ki, Lee Jin-wook, Park Chang-min, Park Kwang-soo, Chung Jong-man, Yun Hi-su, Kim Keun-hyun


South Korea seem perpetual also-rans in sevens. But they are entertaining because they run hard, pass well and are not afraid of a crunching tackle, so be ready to wince. They look good for the Plate


but the Canadians will down them in the quarter-finals, 24-7. Boo


SINGAPORE


Manager: Ng Weng Kiuai


Coach: Matthew Ryan


Players: Jonathon Chen, James Crosbie, Andrew Kwong, Andrew Kagoro, Li Rencong, Robert Murphy, Romi Musa, Grant Rawlinson, Gary Tan, Rong Xinjiang, Desmond Wee, Yap Yong Cheng


Probably the worst sevens team in the whole, wide world, Singapore are also the planet's most sporting team. Time and again, they prove they can't kick, can't run and couldn't string three passes together if they tried, yet they play doggedly on, as knowing punters flock to the stadium's bars and lavatories in droves. Critics might wonder why the Lion City's bravest continue to be invited here every year, but Singapore play a vital role at the Sevens, first to make Hong Kong look brilliant and, vitally for any world-class sports event, to give the crowd an excuse to stretch their legs. Indeed, the Lion City's squad have perfected their stand-clearing role to such an art that if you merely mention the words 'Singapore are on' to anyone with at least three plastic Sevens jugs under their sink, they'll cock their legs as surely as Pavlov's dogs. Cheer loudly; they're hopeless


POOL F


AUSTRALIA


Manager: Michael O'Connor


Coach: Bill Millard


Players: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Richard Brown, Peter Hewet, Matt Hodgson, Luke Inman, Arthur Little, Ben Mowen, Patrick Phibbs, Jarrod Saffy, Chris Siale, Scott Staniforth, Paul Warwick (c)


They have yet to progress beyond the Cup quarter-finals of any major sevens tournament for over a year. But that's what you get when you send boys to do Campo's job at a $750-ticket event. Fans can expect a 23-21 Plate triumph over Canada, but Aussie fans might ask whether that's really good enough. So boo a team that could go through England players even quicker than their premier did on the Rugby World Cup victors' rostrum, but won't


SAMOA


Manager: Taufusi Salesa


Coach: John Schuster


Players: David Alo Pulou, Alapaso Cordtz, Desmond Faaiuaso, Jonathon Faamatuainu, Eneliko Faatau, David Lemi, Anzac Luteru, Uale Mai, Kiri Mariner, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Mark Tanuvasa, Roger Warren


A tough team that will win the Hong Kong Sevens if the jetlagged Argentinians find trouble in their stubble; the English are lured back to a Saturday night of excess in a Senior Counsel's May Road


love dungeon or the fresh-faced young New Zealanders aren't tucked up for their bed-time story by 9pm. Or if Hell freezes over. Heading for a smacking tournament, culminating in a 17-15 Cup quarter-final defeat by South Africa. Cheer


NAMIBIA


Manager: Wessel Kotze


Coach: Eden Meyer


Players: Melrick Africa, Jurie Louw Booysen, Du Preez Grobler, J.J. Husselman, Jaco Kotze, Regardt Kruger, Herman Dirk Lintvelt, Deon Mouton, Ronaldo Pedro, Corne Powell (c), Riaan van Wyk, Jan van Zyl


Solid chaps a long way from home. Could entertain in the preliminary round before they lose a hard contest 17-12 to the United States in the Plate quarter-finals. Then they will pack, accumulate more Air Miles and go home again. Cheer


CHINESE TAIPEI


Manager: Hsieh Hsiu-chih


Coach: Chern You-tsuen


Players: Chang Ching-fong, Chang Chun-ming, Chen Chi-ching, Chiu Po-chih, Fan Chih-hao, Huang Shih-chien, Sun Cheng-yen, Tu Chia-ming, Tung Yuan-hsiang, Wang Kuo-feng, Wu Cheng-ju, Wu Chih-hsien


A nice bunch of Bowl merchants from the rebel province, but really not worth watching, unless they pack at least three feisty lady legislators into their side, as they'll last about as long as a bag of kitty litter against Japan - 25-10 in the Bowl quarters. Time for a dribble. Boo