Hong Kong Sevens 2017 countdown blog – and watch HKFC Tens live

Festivities and events are taking place all over the city with the action kicking off in earnest on Friday

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 12:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 8:44pm

Thursday, April 6

It’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens eve. That’s right, Hong Kong’s biggest sporting event gets under way tomorrow, with the locals in action from 1.50pm.

Also, the Women’s Rugby Sevens Series qualifier begins today, with Hong Kong taking on Kenya, Argentina and Belgium.

Meanwhile, catch up with some of our team’s latest reports:

- How Hong Kong women’s star Amelie ‘Frenchie’ Seure plans to tackle her seventh Sevens

- Fijian sevens stars sparkle for UBB Gavekal as Hong Kong Tens kicks off

- Fiji legend Waisale Serevi tips this year’s Hong Kong Sevens to be the most open in years

- England coach Simon Amor dismisses the suggestion that the quality of the World Series is down

Watch: GFI HKFC Tens live

CFL giant looking to do an Ebner and play sevens

Canadian Football League defensive back Tevaughn Campbell is looking to do a Nate Ebner and try his hand at rugby sevens. The Saskatchewan Roughriders player will be with the Canadian team at the Hong Kong Sevens but coach Damian McGrath said the 23-year-old won’t play.

Ebner took time off playing for New England Patriots to represent the US in last year’s Hong Kong Sevens and the Olympics in Rio.

“He’s going to immerse himself in sevens,” McGrath is quoted as saying. “He came to watch the Sevens in Vancouver and liked what he saw.

“He’s the type of athlete who’s never touched a rugby ball in his life but has terrific speed and physicality. We’re actively looking outside of rugby for the type of players that we hope can add some quality to our squad.”

The six-foot, 200-pounder from Toronto is one of the fastest men in the CFL, having run the 60 metres in 6.67 seconds last year.

“He fancies the opportunity,” said McGrath. “He’d like to have a look and explore it further.

“We’re just going to take him with us to Hong Kong and Singapore as our 14th man. He can train with the players and just have a look at what it takes to play rugby.”

England’s Dan Norton aims for try-scoring record

Try-machine Dan Norton has a world record in his sights as England seek a long-awaited victory at this week’s Hong Kong Sevens to close the gap on series leaders South Africa.

The 28-year-old wing heads into the annual showpiece of sevens rugby level on 244 tries with Kenya’s Collins Injera, and vying to seize sole ownership of the all-time record for sevens tries.

England coach Simon Amor, who led Great Britain to Olympic silver in Rio last year, was full of praise for Norton, a career sevens specialist, as the milestone approaches.

“Players like Dan, they really set the world on fire and it makes the game so exciting to watch,” Amor said.

“They’re fundamental to growing the game so it’s great to have all these superstars out there.”

Norton, who made his England debut in 2009, also starred in Britain’s Olympic campaign last year, when they lost in the final to a rampant Fiji.

“Certainly one of the key aspects of Dan Norton is that he is quick -- which helps because he is a winger -- and he’s got wonderful feet,” Amor said.

“I still think there are improvements to make, which is quite exciting, and he’s only 28 so he’s got a few more years left.”

England haven’t won in Hong Kong since 2006, the last in a sequence of four wins in five years during Amor’s playing days.

Agence France-Presse

Friends in life and rugby

They grew up together in Cambridge, New Zealand. They played school and club rugby together and went to the same university.

Now the two friends are lining up alongside each other in front of 40,000 fans as they represent Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Sevens.

Read Sam Agars story about the two players here.

Value of Sport forum a winner

The Hong Kong Rugby Union Community Foundation hosted a lunch on the Value of Sport today, preceded by three fascinating workshops.

First up, triple GB Paralympian, wheelchair rugby player Andy Barrow, gave a talk on how overcoming adversity, after he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him a paraplegic aged just 17.

Trevor Ringland, former Ireland and British and Irish Lions player then gave some insight into how sport has helped heal some of the divisions in his native Northern Ireland.

Next was a discussion on how sport can help troubled youngsters, with Operation Breakthrough founder Ian Seabourne and two players from Saracens – who spend £1 million a year on community projects – Charlie Hodgson and Neil de Kock.

At lunch, sporting greats associated with the Laureus Foundation – five-time Olympic gold medal winner Steve Redgrave, four-time Chinese gold medal winning gymnast Li Xiaopeng and rugby greats Sean Fitzpatrick, Jean de Villiers and Andrew Mehrtens – gave insights into how sport had changed their lives for the better.

With local community leaders, local sports, charity and government representatives in attendance, it was an inspirational morning – although as Barrow said, “I prefer motivation rather than inspiration” ie taking action.

Hong Kong Sevens and the Muppets – shared history

There will be more than a handful of fans at the Hong Kong Stadium this weekend who were there for the first Hong Kong Sevens in 1976, held at Football Club.

Did they realise they were involved in the start of something so big, it would end up in rugby being re-admitted into the Olympic fold under the sevens format. According to ESPN, those who were there in 1976 would also have been witness to other major launches that would have a global impact. Among them were:

1. Irish rock band U2 in the process of being formed

2. Steve Jobs was founding Apple

3. The Muppet Show made their official premiere on television. Kermit and Hong Kong Sevens going hand in hand.

‘World Cup, Mardi Gras and music festival – all in fancy dress’

Head of the Hong Kong Sevens Sam Pinder, a New Zealand-born former Scottish international, was asked how he would describe the Hong Kong Sevens to someone who has never been before.

“A three day rugby party that is a mixture of a World Cup, a Mardi Gras carnival, and a music festival – all in fancy dress,” he said.

“We expect some red-hot rugby on the pitch as there is much interest in whether or not South Africa can win their first Hong Kong Sevens.

“We have also added more entertainment with live bands playing over all three days so expect the stadium to be jumping from Friday noon when the first game kicks off.”

Hamstring stretch genius: Australia’s Jenkins set for 50th tournament

If see you some of the things Australia’s Ed Jenkins can do in gym training, you’d know why he is one of the hardest-working and most reliable players on the world sevens circuit.

Without attracting the fanfare, the 30-year-old Jenkins is set to make his 50th tournament appearance for the Wallabies at the Hong Kong Sevens, just like South Africa’s Cecil Afrika.

Australia are sixth in the series standings on 62 points and coach Andy Friend is focusing on the long-term strategy heading into Hong Kong, according to media reports.

“The team has come together really well after Vancouver and we have looked at the areas of our game we needed to amend heading into Hong Kong,” he was quoted as saying.

“Welcoming back Jesse Parahi, Boyd Killingworth, John Porch and Charlie Taylor offers us some different options in attack as we look to make the most of our opportunities in possession.

“The world series is a marathon, not a sprint and now is the time for this team to galvanise together and put out some strong consistent performances into the back end of the season.”

Watch Ed’s amazing hamstring stretch below.

Hong Kong go down to Kenya in thriller

There was an early setback for hosts Hong Kong in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier as they lost a winning position to a late surge from Kenya, going down 24:21.

Kenya’s Sinaida Omondi scored a hat-trick of tries to seal the win. There were wins also for Papua New Guinea, Italy, Netherlands, Japan and Belgium.

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Wednesday, April 5

Two more sleeps. Yup it’s 48 hours or so until the action kicks off at Hong Kong Stadium for another round of the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

We’ll be updating this page throughout the day with all the latest from around the city as teams prepare to kick off their campaigns.

Meanwhile, catch up with some of our team’s latest reports:

World embraces sevens after Rio Olympics success

Before the Rio Olympics last year, rugby chiefs were confident that the impact of sevens would result in an explosion of interest in the game globally. And they were right, according to figures released by World Rugby.

As as usual, the influence of the Hong Kong Sevens continues to drive the popularity of sevens around the world, particularly in new markets such as the United States.

“In the immediate aftermath of Rio we saw an estimated 16.8 million new fans follow rugby sevens and in the previous six rounds [of the world series], we’ve seen tournaments play out to huge global TV audiences, social media figures averaging eight million video views per round and passionate and energetic fans at the events themselves ... and I am sure that the spectacle Hong Kong will again give us will further assist in ensuring those new fans are captured in the Game,” said World Rugby Competitions & Events Manager for Sevens Douglas Langley.

“Hong Kong is one of the most anticipated stops on the series and one of the most iconic, exciting and energetic events that World Rugby is proud to be associated with,” Langley added.

Fijian sevens players do their bit for the Tens

What do you do when you have a surplus of world-class sevens players? You lend them to a Tens team. UBB Gavekal benefited from the generosity of Fiji coach Gareth Baber with their four players leading the way as they upset second seeds Mourant Ozannes Samurai International 14-5 and ultimately top pool B at the GFI HKFC Tens.

UBB are seeded 11th after finishing in the bottom eight of the 16-team tournament in their first two appearances, but this year’s squad are boosted by the addition of Fijian playmaker Lemeki Tulele and fellow backs Josua Vici, Samu Bale and Glen Cakautini.

Captain Aorangi Stokes said: “It definitely helps having four Fiji Sevens players in the squad. They’re the x factor. Give them a bit of space and they’re magic, most definitely,” said Stokes.

“The result against Samurai wasn’t really a surprise to me. We knew that if we stuck to our structures and held the ball, we’d do well. We backed our defence, really.”

Read the full report here.

Minus the Badger, the Aussies are now a serious bunch

Last year, the Aussies gave us the Honey Badger aka Nick Cummins – the outrageous rugby player who offers a wealth of colourful Aussie sayings, most of which has yet to be translated into English. And he was a decent sevens player as well, though injury prevented him from playing in Hong Kong.

So it was a decidedly serious Australian training camp our writer Sam Agars visited on Wednesday afternoon. Still, the question had to be asked. What’s it like without the Badger?

“It’s definitely a bit quieter without the Honey Badger. He was a different sort of individual and he brought a lot of smiles to the boys,” said stand-in captain Tom Lucas.

They are now relying on veteran James “Chucky” Stannard for light entertainment. “He used to play along with the Honey Badger as much as he could,” said Lucas.

Lose weight with Samoa coach Gordon Tietjens

Want to lose weight without having to eat less? Better still, want to lose weight by eating more? Talk to Samoa coach Gordon Tietjens.

The former New Zealand coach is educating his new players on the benefits of good eating, so much so that one of his players said that he was eating more than before and still lost seven kilograms.

The only problem was that he also had to train twice a day. Read Robby Nimmo’s interview with the affable Titch.

There’s value in Sevens rubbish

For those who think the Hong Kong Sevens is a load of rubbish, well, it’s getting less so. Apparently the Sevens is leading the way in terms of how it handles the massive amounts of rubbish that is thrown away by well-behaved patrons during the three days of rugby fun.

In 2014, there was 210 tonnes of refuse collected. Last year, it was down to 101 tonnes. The resulting recycling efforts led to:

* 7.7 tonnes of paper waste being separated, collected and delivered to recyclers

* 2.1 tonnes of plastic waste being separated, collected and delivered to recyclers

* 4.2 tonnes of glass bottles being separated, collected and delivered to recyclers for manufacturing of eco-pavers and other construction materials.

* 500 kilograms of food waste being separated, collected and delivered to the HKSARG’s Kowloon Bay Pilot Composting plant for treatment (composting)

* 170 litres of used cooking oil collected and delivered to a local biodiesel producer

Look out for a full report on the Sevens post-tournament clean-up operations by our reporter Chan Kin-wa.

Cool runner: Jamaica’s Frazer ready for Hong Kong

Lisa Frazer discovered rugby during a trip to the beach in 2005, when she was 21. There was something “funny” happening in the sand. Now, she’s leading the Jamaican women’s team in the Hong Kong Sevens. She has also played almost every other sport, including bobsledding. Mathew Scott has the report.

The fastest man in rugby will return faster than ever

Carlin Isles will be back and faster than ever. That is the promise of United States coach Mike Friday, who said the speedster is recovering from ACL reconstruction and is ready to light up stadiums once again from next season onwards.

“It’s gone really, really well and we fully expect to see him back flying at the start of next season,” said Friday about the man dubbed the fastest men in sevens. “The thing about Carlin is that no one will ever question his work ethic and he is working meticulously hard, one to ensure he doesn’t lose any speed, two he doesn’t lose any power and three he comes back faster than he went away.”

Isles, 27, has a personal best 100-metres time of 10.24 seconds.

On the subject of speed, read Mathew Scott’s piece on the fastest players you’ll see at this year’s Hong Kong Sevens.

Is F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo looking for Sevens tickets?

We start off with Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo. What has he got to do with the Hong Kong Sevens, you ask? Well, we’ll find a link somehow.

The Australian was seen walking down Causeway Bay on Thursday looking left and right and crossing a road. The Red Bull driver looked completely at ease and at home as he strolled past Times Square soaking in that unique Hong Kong atmosphere.

The question remains, though, as to why he was looking left and right? We have one of three possible answers.

1. He was looking for a tout to buy Hong Kong Sevens tickets (there’s our link). Well, they don’t usually turn up until about Thursday.

2. He was looking for a Formula One circuit in Hong Kong.

3. He was told by one of the Red Bull camera crew following him, “Hey Dan, look left and right as if you’re soaking in that unique Hong Kong atmosphere”.

Our writer Unus Alladin will be interviewing Ricciardo on Wednesday. Look out for his piece.

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Tuesday, April 4

Union launches community foundation

The Hong Kong Rugby Union Community foundation launched its Hong Kong Sevens campaign with a host of rugby clinics with ambassadors including Deaf Rugby, Inclusive Rugby & Wheelchair Rugby, making for a fantastic morning for family and kids on the public holiday on Tuesday.

Watch highlights from the six Sevens Series tournaments so far

South Africa have dominated the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this season, winning four of six rounds to sit 23 points clear of England on top of the table. England are the only team to beat South Africa this season, achieving the feat on three occasions including in the finals in Cape Town and Vancouver.

Watch highlights from all of the six tournaments so far as we head into the biggest of them all, the 2017 Hong Kong Sevens.

Cecil Afrika returns to Hong Kong for his 50th tournament

South African star is his country’s greatest points scorer with 1,204. However, two years ago, he suffered an injury at the Hong Kong Sevens that he thought would end his career. Yet he returns to the city to play in his 50 tournament and he remains a key member of the Blitzboks as they attempt to break their duck in Hong Kong.

Matt Scott spoke to Afrika and you can read the story here.

Tietjens Two

Samoa’s sevens squad will have a double dose of Tietjens tutoring during the Hong Kong Sevens with their coach Gordon’s son, Paul, joining as an assistant, according to Samoan media.

PE teacher Paul has been roped in after the resignation of their previous conditioning trainer, given the 28-year-old’s experience with the Bay of Plenty Sevens team over the past two years.

Samoa face England, Australia and South Korea in the pool play this weekend.

Chater Garden’s Tuesday night rundown

Admission is free.

4pm: Performance by the St Andrew’s Pipe Band

5pm: Solo saxophone from Griffe Saunders

6pm: MC chitchat with RWC 2007 winner Jean de Villiers & Rio 2016 Silver medallist Huriana Manuel

6.10pm: Live music from The Still Unbroken

7.25pm: Solo music performance by Owen Campbell

8.05pm: MC chitchat with 7s legends Justin Harrison (Australia) and Gareth Thomas (Wales)

8.15pm: Live music from 9th State

Ostrich eggs instead of rugby balls? Shell-shockingly not fooled

England’s rugby sevens establishment went to great lengths to convince the ignorant that any egg-shaped object will do. And the biggest egg around is that of the ostrich’s, so they even made a video that tried to be serious but was seriously ludicrous, showing England players tossing huge eggs around supposedly as part of their new sevens training regime.

Absolutely no need to disrespect readers’ intelligence here by informing when this video was put out, but it was accompanied by an article on the England Rugby website.

However, apparently enough people were fooled to convince The Sun to list it as one of the best pranks of the day.

Fijian firepower

Interesting stat from Stat Attack about best attacking team so far this year.

Boks are here

Training quirks

It’s not hi-tech but it’s innovative as teams make the most of the bare minimum to prepare for the Hong Kong Sevens, as noted by our veteran sevens man Matt Scott. New Zealand were seen playing with tennis balls. The players were standing in cricket slips formation as the balls were hit to them and they had to make sure none made it past the cordon. No reports if the players were forced to shout “Hozat!” if they made a catch.

The Spanish players needed an ice bath but lacked a bathtub at King’s Park. Easily fixed. They commandeered one of those ubiquitous and massive wheelie bins and proceeded to fill it with water and ice. Cool idea. And then there’s South Africa’s high-powered rock, paper, scissors meetings to decide playing ends and who gets the ball in training.

German ambitions

How about a little light reading to start off this splendid holiday morning?

Our very own Sam Agars spoke to the captain of an ambitious German outfit yesterday, who are in a hurry to make a dent in the world sevens scene on just their second appearance in Hong Kong.

Only a World Series spot will do for a German side that has ‘really kicked on’ since shock Hong Kong showing

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Monday, April 3

Let’s get this party started

The Hong Kong Sevens party began in earnest on Monday night, with much of the action focused on Chater Garden in Central, where past legends, music and the public came together to celebrate the tournament.

Fijian great Waisale Serevi, Australia’s David Campese, New Zealand’s Andrew Mehrtens and England’s Ben Gollings were among those who enjoyed an evening of entertainment provided by The Red Stripes, 9th State and Owen Campbell. And there’s still four days to go before the tournament starts.

New Zealand’s next big thing?

Teen flier Vilimoni Koroi is being talked about as New Zealand’s next rugby star. The Kiwis have had a rich history blooding future stars at the Hong Kong Sevens so could Koroi be the next one? Matt Scott spoke to him.

How throwing oranges very hard at each other gave Fijians their rugby nous

Good to see Charlie Charters back in Hong Kong. For Sevens’ fans of the ’90s, Charters was the outside world’s window on to Fiji rugby. Indeed, he would have been Fiji’s mascot had he not been nearly seven-foot tall.

Charters, is/was known in Hong Kong as ATV’s sports anchor during the early to mid ’90s. Having lived in Fiji and with close connections to rugby in the country, he was/is also a wealth of information and anecdotes on the idiosyncrasies of Fijian rugby, of which there could be volumes to write about.

Our abiding memory of Charlie was during one particular Hong Kong Sevens final when, mostly likely under the influence of potent Fijian pick-me-up cava, he angrily trudged the try-line mimicking an elongated Tim Burton animation while ferociously supporting the Fiji team, totally ignoring various items being thrown at him from the crowd behind.

While we remember it well, Charlie probably doesn’t.

However, he does have a gem of a story about how young Fijian males get their rugby “groove”, particularly their ability to dodge tackles. As he once wrote in an article, it’s all down to an age-old game called veimoli, the Fijian equivalent of dodgeball but using fruit, mostly oranges.

Charters relates: “Veimoli was designed to sharpen a boy’s ability to avoid, swerve around or duck under the famous throwing-club known as i ula, which was one of the principal weapons of the time. “Two teams of young warriors would stand 20 metres apart, according to a 1915 account by Father Rougier, each with a pile of citrus fruit or moli to simulate the throwing club: one youth would come forward to throw and be thrown at. A hit would represent a kill, and the game continued until one set of warriors had been eliminated. Often, according to Rougier, participants were pelted so hard and accurately they were left unconscious.”

They also used these skills to avoid being shot. Yes, dodge bullets. In the old days of flintlock system guns, when the weapon would visibly flash a split second before it fired, the Fijians were able to sidestep shots with ease.

American naval officer Lieutenant Charles, who in 1840 was seemingly ordered to destroy a few villages in some sort of reprisal, wrote five years later: “Our party having approached within about seventy feet of the stockade, opened its fire on the fortification. Now was seen, what many of those present had not believed, the expertness with which these people dodge a shot at the flash of a gun. Those who were the most incredulous before, were now satisfied they could do this effectually.”

We at the Hong Kong Sevens see it every year.

Now that we think about it, it was probably oranges that were thrown at Charlie during that epic Sevens final.

Heart condition is in the past, says Hendricks

South Africa winger Cornal Hendricks is not letting a heart condition dilute his enthusiasm for the Hong Kong Sevens week, even though he will only be playing in the HKFC Tens. Hendricks, 28, played on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for three years and earned 12 caps for the Springboks in 2014 and 2015 while playing Super Rugby for Cheetahs before a heart condition curtailed his pro career.

“My condition is a thing of the past. I’m looking forward now to focusing on my career. I’m so happy that [coach] Heyneke [Meyer] called me to see if I was interested to play in the Tens and I’m happy to be on the pitch again. My fitness is good, so I’m excited to start the tournament,” said Hendricks, who played in the Hong Kong Sevens twice.

Hendricks and other players from the Hogan Lovells Asia Pacific Dragons team, who are taking part in the HKFC Tens, spent some time with a group young rugby enthusiasts from Tung Chung over the weekend. Also in attendance was Meyer, the former South Africa coach will is taking the reigns of the Dragons in this week’s Tens tournament at Hong Kong Football Club.

Beach 5’s a blast

Repulse Bay was bouncing at the Beach 5’s over the weekend, with rugby, netball and soccer entertaining the masses across two full days of action. It was the perfect way for Hongkongers to slip into the groove of Sevens week, with a Mavericks side featuring a host of players from HK Premiership team Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers taking out the main game. Mavericks defeated Berdsk in the final, with boom Tigers recruits Ben Featherstone and Alex Woodburn taking a spell from their off-season to throw their weight around.

Catch up on the best of our Sevens build-up

Gordon Tietjens is preparing for an emotional roller coaster should Samoa face his old side New Zealand, Fiji captain Osea Kolinisau wants the doubters to give former Hong Kong boss Gareth Baber a break and we relived all the carry on from last year’s Sevens.

Are you not entertained?

The official Sevens fanzone opens today at Chater Garden in Central, with entertainment and activites every day and live music at night.

Rugby stars will be milling about and mingling with supporters, while there’s a range of food and drink options (see below)

Here’s tonight’s schedule if you’re heading down:

17.50 MC chitchat with rugby legends Andrew Mehrtens (NZ) and David Campese (AUS)

18.00 Live music from The Red Stripes

19.00 MC chitchat with World Cup 2007 winner Jean de Villiers & Rio 2016 silver medalist Huriana Manuel (Team GB)

19.10 Solo music performance from Owen Campbell

20.10 MC chitchat with Hong Kong Sevens legends Waisale Serevi and Ben Gollings

20.30 Live music from 9th State

Women’s future on show

Hong Kong sevens coach Anna Richards was no doubt busy preparing our women’s team for the big qualifier this week, but the future was on show at the Zurich All Girls Rugby Tournament in Sai Kung on Friday and Saturday.

Organised by the Sai Kung Stingrays, 83 teams took part from under-6 to under-19, with the under 6-8 playing touch and under-10 full contact.

The Girls Under-19 final was won by the Tiger Rays, a combined Sai Kung Stingrays and USRC team, who beat Flying Kukris 26-5.

The Under-12 Stingrays beat Hong Kong Football Club 4 tries to 3 in a nail-biting final determined by a golden try.

A Sevens supper

Fancy a Sevens course feast and eating off the same plate with rugby heroes such as David Campese, Andrew Mehrtens, Ben Gollings, Waisale Serevi, Jean de Villiers, Gareth Thomas, Justin Harrison, Charlie Hodgson, Neil de Kok and Gordon D’Arcy?

You can do just that at a private dining session at the Sevens Central fan festival in Chater Garden; a host of top food and beverage options will be available at the free-to-enter event, though you better have your chequebook ready for the exclusive private dining option.

The pop-up restaurant is helmed by celebrity chef Tom Burney of Invisible Kitchen who has worked in some of the world’s top restaurants including The Fat Duck and The Square in London and cooked for a host of top stars in HK.

His ‘Sevens’ course menu will be served in three private seatings nightly, from Monday to Wednesday.

Courses include a ‘Drink Before the Game’ (lobster Bloody Mary); ‘Cauliflower Ears’ (cauliflower rice crackers with asparagus and Hoki fish) and ‘The South Stand’, a small bites platter supposedly representing “some of the most popular dining items in the Sevens’ infamous South Stand”. Presumably it is healthier than what’s on offer at HK Stadium.

Mains include ‘The Kick Off’, (lamb shoulder); ‘The Scrum’, (pulled pork); ‘Nice Try’ (sous vide Angus tenderloin) and ‘Sweet Chariot’ a dessert sharing platter.

A table for 12 costs HK$10,000, but for that you have the pleasure of being accompanied by two of the HKRU rugby ambassadors named above and get free flow beer and a selection of wines.

A host of other top chefs and restaurants, including Anthony Burd of Mercato, above, will be plying their trade at the Chater Gardens event.

Old Rugbeians in HK celebrate 450th birthday

Rugby School in the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the game, is marking its 450th anniversary this year by passing a special rugby ball around the world.

The global campaign will see Old Rugbeians – young and old, both boys and girls – passing the ball at each of 450 major locations taking in every continent.

After visits to Twickenham, Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower and at the grave of William Webb Ellis in Menton in southern France, the ball is in Hong Kong for rugby week.

Twenty-five passes will be made at some of the city’s most iconic destinations, including the Peak, Man Mo Temple, the Star Ferry, Happy Valley race track and along the MacLehose Trail, named after one of Hong Kong’s most influential Old Rugbeians, former governor Sir Murray MacLehose.

Hong Kong resident Phil Smyth is the custodian of the ball while it’s here.

“We have many OR’s in Hong Kong,” Smith said.

“It is very exciting for it to be here at this time because it is the time of the Sevens and rugby week.

“Having said that even if it wasn’t in that week it still would have been a great honour for us. It is going everywhere around the world, so for us to get it is great.”