Hong Kong ponders hosting 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens with Kai Tak stadium at heart of bid
World Rugby set to invite tenders for the 2022 edition from next year
Hong Kong will consider bidding for the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens despite the city being likely to face strong competition from countries on the radar for global expansion.
Robbie McRobbie, deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, said local officials may put forward a proposal when governing body World Rugby invite tenders next year.
Hong Kong hosted the 1997 and 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens and McRobbie said a third tournament would be the ideal way to open the city’s proposed new stadium at Kai Tak in 2022.
“We have hosted two World Cup and we know that both were fantastic,” said McRobbie, “We believe that there is interest and an appetite within the Hong Kong community for more events like the Hong Kong Sevens.
“Our priority will always be with the HSBC World Sevens Series and we wouldn’t want to jeopardise our place on the series. We want to put on the best possible event we can.
“In 2022, it will be around the time the new stadium could be coming on line. If it is ready, that could be a very fitting opening to the new Kai Tak sports hub by hosting the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
“A few things will have to come together to make it happen.”
On Saturday, World Rugby announced that San Francisco will host the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens as the tournament goes to the United States for the first time on the back of a successful sevens tournament at the Rio Olympics, which proved popular with American TV audiences.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said the body is hoping to spread the popularity of sevens rugby in potential growth markets such as the United States, Brazil and Germany.
On the back of these development plans, any Hong Kong bid would face stiff competition from these countries should they seek to host the 2022 event.
“Personally, I am very excited about the 2018 tournament going to San Francisco. I think it will be a great event,” said McRobbie. “We are also pretty excited about going for a third one. And I think the [new] stadium would definitely help.
“To be able to open a new iconic stadium with a World Cup would be something special for the city.”
Beaumont also highlighted China as a major growth market, given World Rugby’s partnership with Alibaba to develop the sport in the mainland. However, a Chinese city would likely need to stage a stop on the world series before being considered as a World Cup host.
“We don’t see China in any way, shape or form as competition” said McRobbie. “We have a great relationship with the Chinese rugby body.
“At the end of the day, we will cooperate with China going forward. What’s good for China is good for Hong Kong and what’s good for Hong Kong is good for China.
“If they bid we will support them and if we bid I’m sure they will support us. Certainly what is high on the agenda is bringing more world-class rugby to Hong Kong.”