SPORTS

Tough Hong Kong 7s Defence

"The defending champions are the top seeds of Pool C, which has been dubbed as the ‘group of death’ where they face arch rivals New Zealand, Australia and Kenya."
13 Mar 2019 18:03
Tough Hong Kong 7s Defence
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s prop Paula Dranisinukula during the 2018/19 HSBC World Sevens Series. The Suva soldier took over as captain after Kalione Nasoko got injured during the Canada 7s in Vancouver. Dranisinukula will be one of our trumpcards at the Hong Kong 7s which is from April 5-7. Photo: Zimbio

The Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team are in a tough pool of this year’s Hong Kong 7s.

The defending champions are the top seeds of Pool C, which has been dubbed as the ‘group of death’ where they face arch rivals New Zealand, Australia and Kenya.

Hong Kong Rugby Union chief executive officer Robbie McRobbie told South China Morning Post, it was great for the fans to see such a wild group when it comes to the main crowd draw. He did note one thing, as someone who hails from the northern part of the United Kingdom.

“I’m just glad Scotland is not in that group, and you can quote me on that.”

The Hong Kong 7s will be from April 5-7.

Canada 7s and defending Series champions South Africa top Pool A where they take on Samoa, Scot­land, Japan. France top Pool B as they tackle Argentina, Canada, Portugal. England, USA are in Pool D along with Wales and Spain.

MEN'S POOL

MEN’S SERIES QUALIFIERS

The Hong Kong men’s sevens squad probably could not have asked for a better group to be drawn into for 2019. Pitted against Tonga, Zimbabwe and the Philippines, they escaped two teams that beat them last year– Chile and Germany.

The Tongans were impressive dur­ing the Hamilton and Sydney tour­naments

Hong Kong 7s coach Paul John said they still have to focus on themselves first before their oppo­nents.

“Look there’s a lot of good sides in this tournament and each year they get stronger and stronger,” said Paul, who led his team to Asian Games gold in 2018 and also at the McDonald’s Coral Coast 7s in Siga­toka early this year.

“It could have been tougher, but it’s still a tough group.”

Paul said they’ve obviously seen a lot of the Philippines given the Asian Sevens Series, a team who Hong Kong consistently beat hand­ily. However he said nothing mat­tered once kick-off starts on April 5 at Hong Kong Stadium for the 44th edition of the tournament.

“We have a fighting chance and I think the most important thing is to get through the group the best you can, and see where you are af­ter that,” he said.

Concerning the roster, Paul said the squad will head to Borneo in a week in half, which will give him another chance to look at poten­tial players. He said the draw will have no impact on how he picks his team, although did admit it may be a rather young squad this year.

“I don’t think the draw matters, there’s a lot of physical sides, and in this competition we’ve always struggled a little bit physically so that is something to take into ac­count for sure.”

MEN'S SERIES QUALIFIER

WOMEN’S QUALIFIERS

When it comes to the women’s side, they drew in Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Uganda. New head coach Iain Monaghan, who took over in January, said he is been impressed with the rugby cul­ture in Hong Kong since coming to town. He noted every group seems stacked when it comes to the wom­en’s side.

“Every team is strong and they’re always improving,” said the 38-year-old who hails from Glasgow, Scotland.

“We want to live up to this aspi­ration of being the fastest team in Asia.

And mov­ing along with the times of the women’s game and sevens itself.”

Monaghan said one of the goals for the squad is finding their iden­tity before the tournament starts.

WOMEN'S POOL QUALIFIER

Edited by Grace Narayan

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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