Travel Industry News at since 1997
Wed, 29 March 2023

World's Greatest Rugby Sevens Party Ready for Kick Off in Hong Kong

(30/03/23)  The Cathay / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens returns to full throttle this weekend as Hong Kong’s premier sporting event welcomes the world back to town with three days of action and entertainment at the Hong Kong Stadium.

Engines were started last November when a special edition of the Sevens was held as Hong Kong, the spiritual home of the game and the leg which is widely regarded as the greatest rugby sevens party in the world, re-opened its doors post-pandemic.

This time around all social distancing restrictions are long gone, and the stadium is set to fully rock once again with over 35,000 spectators expected on opening night as 16 men’s and 12 women’s teams gather for this leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

For the very first time in the Hong Kong Sevens’ storied history, both men’s and women’s competitions will play out simultaneously on the big stage, adding even more excitement to the largest tournament on the global circuit.

Action from USA v South Africa at HK7s 2019. Picture by Steven Howard of Click to enlarge.
Action from USA v South Africa at HK7s 2019. Picture by Steven Howard of

Last November saw reigning HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions Australia break a 34-year drought when lifting the cup and coach John Manenti said the memories of that 20-17 win over Fiji, who were trying to clinch a sixth consecutive HK7s title, in November would linger for a long time indeed.

“It's the biggest stage and it doesn't get bigger than beating Fiji in Hong Kong,” said Manenti. “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.”

The Aussies are drawn in Pool C alongside the USA, Spain and Japan. Pool A is meanwhile led by Argentina, who have shaken up the series so far after victories in Hamilton and in Vancouver last time out. They’ll be looking to charge towards a first-ever Hong Kong title having been drawn for the early exchanges against Fiji, Samoa and Canada.

Series leaders New Zealand have really clicked into gear, winning two out of the past three tournaments, and they’ve been drawn in Pool D alongside Ireland, Kenya and South Africa.

Local fans will be focusing their attention on Pool B, where Hong Kong, China have been drawn against France, Great Britain and Uruguay. Hong Kong skipper Max Woodward has taken heart from some gutsy performances the local lads turned in back in November - and to an emerging squad bristling with talent.

“It's the most competitive squad there’s ever been in my career,” said Woodward. “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.”

The competition in the women’s tournament is equally fierce as New Zealand and Australia are neck and neck at the top as the action arrives in Hong Kong.

The home side have drawn a challenging welcome in Pool A with series leaders New Zealand and Great Britain and Canada both intent on Olympic qualification. Pool B sees Australia, Fiji, Ireland and Brazil, while Pool C features USA, France, Japan and Spain.

This weekend also marks the return of some very special participants with the fabled Hong Kong Sevens march past once again showcasing thousands of the city’s mini and youth rugby community.

With two members of the current men’s sevens squad (Hugo Stiles and James Christie) having first played inside the stadium 15 years ago at U9s level, and now on the eve of making their Hong Kong Sevens debuts in 2023, the impact of the weekend is plain to see.

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,” Agnes said. “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.”

With masks off and smiles on, Hong Kong’s estimable corporate community is returning in force with hospitality spaces in stadium at near sell-out levels, while international demand is climbing back to pre-pandemic levels as well. Over 20% of tickets purchased in the public sale are coming from overseas audiences signalling Hong Kong’s return is in full swing.

Unusually, a limited number of tickets are still available. Prices for a three-day pass are $1,950 for adults and $950 for children 12 and under.

The Cathay / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2023 is a “M” Mark event that helps enhance the image of Hong Kong as Asia’s sports events capital. The “M” Mark is awarded by the Major Sports Events Committee and symbolises an intense, spectacular and signature event in the territory’s sports calendar.

The Cathay / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens was last held in March in 2019.

Rugby pictures: Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015, Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong Kong, Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015, Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013, Pictures of Chartis Cup 2012 and Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.

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