Play On! All Set For Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2023 Kick-off
The Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2023 returns to today as Hong Kong’s premier sporting event welcomes the world back to town with three days of rugby 7s action and entertainment at the Hong Kong Stadium. After what has been an exciting buildup of events – all eyes turn to the Sevens.
Feature Photo Credit – All 28 captains at the captain’s photo call prior to the Cathay Pacific/ HSBC Hong Kong Sevens at the Kerry Hotel on 29 March, 2023 in Hong Kong, China. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby
With all social distancing restrictions gone, the iconic Stadium is set to embrace an expected 35,000 spectators on opening night (Friday 31st March 2023) as 16 men’s and 12 women’s teams compete for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
As we have been discussing in the build-up, for the very first time in the Hong Kong Sevens’ history, both men’s and women’s competitions will play out simultaneously on the big stage, and both Hong Kong women and men play a World Sevens Series event together. Japan Men and Women are also in action as the only other Asian representation.
Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2023 Women
The competition in the women’s tournament is led by New Zealand and Australia who are neck and neck at the top of the table with NZ challenging the current Series defending champions.
All sides are chasing Olympic qualification, NZ is the only team aside from the hosts (France) to have secured a spot. Just two rounds are remaining in the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and four in the men’s. It was also confirmed there would be no relegation from the Women’s Series this season so teams are safe.
NZ head coach Cory Sweeney said “It will be an exciting occasion for the game and the girls to be a part of. It will be the first time for the women to experience, perform and compete at the Hong Kong Sevens stage, which is viewed by many as the home of sevens and the ultimate arena to test yourselves.”
HK has drawn a challenging Pool A with New Zealand, Great Britain and Canada, but co-captains Natasha Olson-Thorne and Melody Li Nim-yan are excited to lead the side into their first-ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament.
Acting Head Coach Paul John has urged all the players to embrace the weekend and the opportunity and with Hong Kong’s women’s stars sharing the stage for the first time, the hero effect will be on full display believes debutant Agnes Tse Wing-kiu: “We are showing young girls that there really is a chance here with rugby. The game is growing and the opportunities are also growing. Now we get to play at the Hong Kong stadium with the best teams and atmosphere there is. We can show them how far playing rugby can take you.”
Hong Kong China women’s captain Melody Li also added: “It’s really a big and meaningful occasion for us playing for our first time on the World Series on our home ground with the men’s team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and hopefully we can inspire more young girls to play rugby in Hong Kong. I first attended the Hong Kong Sevens in high school in 2012 as a liaison officer for Australia, and I was hoping that one day I could play in the stadium, but I never knew it I’d get the chance, so I’m really happy.”
Japan Sakura 7s are in 9th place in the log and have really stepped up over the past few events and will look to close the gap or leapfrog Canada in the standings.
Ireland also comes into the weekend with a new Head Coach, as Allan Temple-Jones has taken over from Aiden McNulty.
Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2023 Men
In November 2022, reigning HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions Australia broke a 34-year drought when they won the Cup and Coach John Manenti said the memories of that 20-17 win over Fiji in November: “It’s the biggest stage and it doesn’t get bigger than beating Fiji in Hong Kong, It was just an amazing experience. We’re pretty excited to get back there and have another crack at it. I said to the boys that it’s more than likely they’ll never have two Hong Kong’s in one season again so if nothing else, we’ll write ourselves a piece of history that probably can’t be repeated by going back and winning again.”
It has been a hotly contested Men’s World Sevens Series so far. Argentina, who had victories in Hamilton and in Vancouver last time out will be looking for a first-ever Hong Kong title.
Series leaders New Zealand have won two out of the past three tournaments – and they’ve been drawn in Pool D alongside Ireland, Kenya and South Africa. The Blitzboks earlier in the week attended a function with Rugby World Cup winner and Springbok legend Victor Matfield (surprisingly his first visit to Hong Kong) telling great stories but also encouraging the Boks to win a first-ever title at the famous Sevens.
Hong Kong, China are in Pool B with France, Great Britain and Uruguay. Home team skipper Max Woodward added “It’s the most competitive squad there’s ever been in my career. November was an emotional tournament, just looking out into the crowd and seeing all those Hong Kong fans, and there was a buzz around the new players in our squad. We have to be a little bit more clinical to get results but November gave us a bit of confidence that there are results out there for us.”
Japan men are struggling this season and former HK coach Simon Amor has added Dan Norton to his coaching ranks to try and avoid relegation this season – and he recently told World Rugby “If this World Series has taught anyone anything, it is totally unpredictable. I think we had six different finalists in the first three rounds, which was incredible…..it is the most competitive it has ever been. That isn’t hyperbole, everyone would say the same.”
Weekend Highlights – Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2023
- This weekend will see the Hong Kong Sevens march past showcasing thousands of the city’s mini and youth rugby community.
- The HKRU Hysan 7s Youth Tournament Finals (Girls & Boys) get things underway on Friday at the HK Stadium before the main Sevens start.
- Over 20% of tickets purchased in the public sale are coming from overseas audiences signalling Hong Kong’s return is in full swing.
Where To Watch Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong 7s 2023
Rugby sevens fans around the world can watch the action via live stream on World Rugby digital platforms including in countries where there is no national broadcaster covering the event.
For more information, visit Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
Asian 7s Teams Game Times
Friday 31st March 2023
- Japan vs France (Pool C) 12:16
- HK vs NZ (Pool A) 14:16
- USA vs Japan (Pool C) 16:40
- HK vs Canada (Pool A) 18:16
- Japan vs USA (Pool C) 19:35
- HK vs France (Pool B) 20:33
Saturday 1st April 2023
- Japan vs Spain (Pool C) 8:46
- HK vs GB (Pool A) 10:18
- Japan vs USA (Pool C) 12:40
- HK vs GB (Pool B) 13:28
- Japan vs Spain (Pool C) 17:01
- HK vs Uruguay (Pool B) 17:49
Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2023 News
- Complete Guide To 2023 Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Events.
- 2023 Tradition HKFC 10s Champions.
- Refereeing Rugby At The Highest Level – Craig Chan & Matt Rodden.
- Hong Kong Sevens Men Set Target For 2023 Tournaments.