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3rd March 2016

Penguins, Samurai both confirm 10th appearance at GFI HKFC 10s

USA legend Todd Clever represented former champions Penguins at the 2015 GFI HKFC 10s.

March 3, 2016: UK-based touring sides Penguins and Samurai have both confirmed they will make their 10th appearance at the GFI HKFC 10s, which will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from April 6-7.

Two of rugby’s leading invitational teams, Penguins and Samurai regularly field world-class players from across the globe.

Penguins, founded in 1959, will be competing at the GFI HKFC 10s for a 10th straight year.

After reaching the Cup final in their first two attempts in 2007 and 2008 and winning the Plate in 2009, they reached the Cup semis for three straight years before lifting the trophy in 2013 – with a side featuring Nehe Milner-Skudder – by beating Samurai 21-14 in a pulsating final, scoring an end-to-end try in the final seconds of the match.

Samurai earned revenge by knocking over Penguins in the quarters the following year, before Penguins beat their rivals at the same stage last year to again reach the semis before being stopped by Tradition YCAC.

Craig Brown has managed Penguins tours since 1999, including every visit to the GFI HKFC 10s, so was delighted the side were marking their 10th appearance in the world’s leading annual 10-a-side rugby tournament.

“Penguins has a remarkable history dating back to 1959 and we believe the club is not only the most travelled rugby club in the world but possibly the most travelled sports club in the world, having played in, or against teams from, more than 70 countries,” said Brown, who has been CEO of Penguin International RFC since 2009, following five years as the club’s Director of Rugby.

“Our involvement in the GFI HKFC 10s is relatively recent in that perspective, but we regard it as the premier 10s event in the world and it’s one of our most important trips each year. Our Cup win in 2013 was a truly special achievement after coming close so many times, and we’re always keen to get our hands on the trophy again.”

Unlike Penguins, Samurai have yet to win the GFI HKFC 10s, but like Penguins, they have twice lost in the final.

After three appearances from 2005 through 2007, Samurai returned in 2010 and reached the final, only to lose 10-0 to Aliens, the tournament’s most successful team, who extended their record number of titles by winning for a seventh time

In the 2013 final against Penguins, a Fijian-dominated Samurai line-up came closer to winning the Cup and had what could have been a winning try disallowed by a touch judge at the end of a dramatic encounter.

Terry Sands, who founded Samurai International RFC in 1996, said the team would like nothing more than to win a trophy that has yet eluded them.

Samurai are really excited about making our 10th appearance at the GFI HKFC 10s and we need to give a huge thank you to Mourant Ozannes, who have agreed to come onboard to assist bringing over the team. Funding the tour has once again not been easy for us this year, but we’re coming and will certainly give it our best shot,” Sands said.

We’re also celebrating our 20th anniversary as a rugby touring team this year. We’ve been fortunate enough to win many titles around the world, but the Hong Kong 10s has always eluded us. Although it seems harder every year to win because of the depth and the number of quality teams, Hong Kong is always a special trip for us and we can’t wait to get going.”

Inaugurated in 1986, the GFI HKFC 10s has long attracted the game’s top players including seven of the New Zealand team who won the 2015 Rugby World Cup – Conrad Smith (2003), Jerome Kaino (2003), Charlie Faumuina (2008), Ben Smith, Beauden Barrett (2010), Sam Cane (2010) and Nehe Milner-Skudder (2013).

Milner-Skudder and Barrett played for Penguins, while Sam Cane starred for Samurai.

Since GFI began its title sponsorship in 2006, the 10s has featured Joe Roff and Toutai Kefu (both 2006), Jonah Lomu (2007), Brian Lima and Israel Dagg (2008), Bob Skinstad (2009), Waisale Serevi (2010), George Gregan and Christian Cullen (2011), Justin Marshall (2011, 2012), Mils Muliaina (2012), Marty Holah (2013), George Smith, Alesana Tuilagi and Rupeni Caucaunibuca (2014), Todd Clever (2012, 2013, 2015) and Rico Gear (2011, 2013, 2015).

Along with GFI, other sponsors in 2016 include Allied World, Natixis and Rugby Pass (gold sponsors), DHL, Q-Net, Swire Properties and Withers (silver), CBRE, CPA Global, EY, Markel and Structure Tone (bronze), Pure Blonde (official beer) and Tsunami (official apparel). Make-A-Wish Hong Kong is this year’s Official Charity.

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