Andrew Forrest’s World Series Rugby is still bubbling and Hong Kong get their chance to audition against Western Force
The HKRU have shown interest in the mining magnate’s breakout competition from the outset and get a first-hand look on Friday in Perth
Hong Kong will get their first taste of Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s “World Series Rugby” when they take on the Western Force in Perth on Friday as details around a more permanent version of the mining magnate’s breakout competition remain vague.
Hong Kong have shown interest from the outset of what was initially labelled the Indo-Pacific Rugby Championship, before Forrest launched his World Series earlier this year to ensure the Force seven fixtures in 2018.
Hong Kong are the sixth team on the Force’s schedule – after the likes of Fiji A, Tonga and Samoa – and Hong Kong Rugby Union chief executive Robbie McRobbie says he will be watching Friday’s action “with keen interest”.
“It’s obviously interesting for us to see how we would stack up against the Force if we ended up in the competition,” he said.
“We are watching developments with interest and we remain interested in the competition, depending on what the details are like.
“We believe that certainly there is an intention to kick the competition off next year but that’s as much as there is to say at the moment.”
The West Australian reported last week that next year’s competition could run from March to June and feature eight teams and a A$1 million purse, with New Zealand, Japan, Fiji, Hong Kong and Singapore touted as potentially providing teams.
It might be Monday but that means we're edging closer to more @Wsr action!
GAME 6 // WESTERN FORCE v HONG KONG DRAGONS
Friday August 10
Tickets ️ https://t.co/qXD6u4PlbG pic.twitter.com/1AMGpAbiB8
— Western Force (@westernforce) August 6, 2018
Forrest hatched the idea after Rugby Australia removed the Force from Super Rugby and, despite a number of hurdles, remains determined to keep his beloved side alive.
The Force have won three of their five fixtures so far and will provide a stern test for a Hong Kong side that McRobbie says will be experimental.
While about one third of the squad will be made up of current Hong Kong players, the rest will come from outside the elite rugby programme.
“It’s an opportunity for [coach] Leigh Jones to have a look at those players who might be pressing a claim for selection in the coming months,” McRobbie said. “It’s a good chance to give them a run against strong opposition and it should be a good test.”
The match forms part of Hong Kong’s build-up to the final stage of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in Japan, which will see them take on Canada, Germany and an African side – likely Kenya – in a repechage in France in November.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong kick off their Asia Rugby Under-20 Sevens Series defence at King’s Park on Friday, taking on Thailand and South Korea in opening day pool play.
Hong Kong then play Malaysia to round out the group stages on Saturday morning before turning their attention to the knockout rounds.
The locals are one of the favourites to take out the tournament and have won three out of the past four editions, including a thumping 36-0 win over main rivals Sri Lanka in last year’s decider.
Hong Kong’s women tackle Singapore and Thailand on Friday before facing up to China and Malaysia on Saturday in a bid to progress to the final of the five-team competition.