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17th March 2016

All Blacks Sevens stars boost Tradition YCAC’s bid

Former New Zealand Sevens player Rocky Khan will play for Tradition YCAC for a second year.

Runners-up for the last two years, the Japan-based club with the Kiwi players are back for another shot at the Bill Burgess Cup

March 17, 2016: Former New Zealand Sevens stars Rocky Khan and Ed Cocker and two-time MVP Kane Hancy will spearhead Tradition YCAC’s charge at next month’s GFI HKFC 10s as the New Zealand-packed squad bid to win the Cup for the first time.

Three-time champions BGC Asia Pacific Dragons (APDs), 2013 winners Penguins and two-time finalists Samurai are among other top contenders at the 31st edition of the tournament, which will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from April 6-7.

After reaching the semis on their 2013 debut, YCAC have lost to APDs in the last two Cup finals and are hoping to prevent their star-studded rivals from recording a third straight title.

Although representing the historic Yokohama Country and Athletic Club in Japan, the YCAC side at the GFI HKFC 10s has always been made up of top-quality Kiwi players, including future or former All Blacks Sevens representatives and players from the ITM Cup, New Zealand’s top domestic competition.

Hancy will be appearing for YCAC for a fourth straight year, while Cocker and Mark Atkins, the new Manawatu Turbos No. 8, are back for a third time. Khan, the first player of Indian descent to play for New Zealand Sevens, will make his second straight appearance for YCAC.

Simon Ryan, the Japan-based manager of Tradition YCAC, said: “We’ll be bringing a squad with brawn, speed and some X factor. This, in combination with the old heads in the squad, will hopefully provide the formula for something special. At the very least, we plan to entertain the crowd and enjoy ourselves at the same time.

“I expect the usual suspects to again be among the favourites for the title, but any team that makes it through to the Cup quarter-finals is in with a shout. 

“This is a special year for YCAC as the club celebrates its 150th anniversary since its founding in 1866. It’s the oldest rugby club in the Asia Pacific region and on April 3 will host the oldest sevens event in Japan as part of our 150th celebrations.”

Ryan is managing YCAC in Hong Kong for the fourth year, having previously led player recruitment for Tradition Valley in 2011, when Hancy captained a side featuring Cocker and Khan to victory, beating the APDs in the final.

Hancy was the winning captain and Player of the Tournament in both 2007 and 2008, as New Zealand Metro beat Penguins in successive finals.

Renowned as the world’s best annual 10-a-side tournament, 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, Jerome Kaino, Ben Smith, Beauden Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Sam Cane and Charlie Faumuina.

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), Cashmaster, CBRE, CPA Global, EY, Markel, Structure Tone and Tricor (bronze), Pure Blonde (official beer) and Tsunami (official apparel). Make-A-Wish Hong Kong is this year’s official charity.

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