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12th December 2016

The Penguins to defend GFI HKFC 10s without Super Rugby trio

The Penguins beat Samurai in the final for the second time in four years. Photo: Power Sport Images for HKFC.


The Penguins commit to an 11th successive campaign at the GFI HKFC 10s in Hong Kong, where the historic UK-based touring club will defend the Cup and target a third title in five years

 The Penguins have confirmed that they will defend their Cup title at the 32nd GFI HKFC 10s, which will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from April 5-6, 2017.

The Penguins won this year’s Cup in their 10th straight appearance at the 10-a-side tournament, which has been staged on the Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens since 1986.

After securing their first GFI HKFC 10s title in 2013 with a last-minute winner against Samurai, The Penguins won this year’s final by beating the same opponents 5-0 with a try in the second five-minute period of extra-time.

However, manager Craig Brown said he will require a new-look squad for 2017 after Kylem O’Donnell, Solomon Alaimolo and Jackson Garden-Bachop secured Super Rugby contracts for 2017. In addition, co-coach Scott Waldrom and co-captain Antonio Kiri Kiri are contracted with New Zealand Sevens for 2016-17.

I’ll be looking at last year’s team to see who is available, but O’Donnell, Alaimolo and Garden-Bachop have Super Rugby contracts so I expect a big turnover. Also, Scott Waldrom is not available as he’s now coaching New Zealand Sevens,” said Brown, who has managed The Penguins tours since 1999 including every visit to the GFI HKFC 10s.

“We’ll obviously be trying to win the Cup again and we’ve already started speaking to players to determine their availability. We haven’t ruled out using two co-coaches and two co-captains again as that worked well for us last year.”

O’Donnell, who co-captained this year’s side with Kiri Kiri, has joined 2016 Super Rugby champions Hurricanes, where the scrumhalf will play with All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Nehe Milner-Skudder, who represented The Penguins at the GFI HKFC 10s in 2010 and 2013 respectively.

Alaimolo has signed with Chiefs, while Jackson Garden-Bachop – nephew of legendary All Blacks scrumhalf Graeme Bachop – has signed a two-year deal with Australia’s Melbourne Rebels.

The Penguins were founded in 1959 and first visited Asia on a tour of Sri Lanka in 1979. Their reputation grew significantly when they reached the semi-finals of the-then invitational Hong Kong Sevens in 1987 – with Martin Offiah in their ranks – and 1988, losing to New Zealand both times.

As well as being frequent visitors to Hong Kong, The Penguins are regular visitors to Malaysia and Singapore. Since 1993, they’ve won the COBRA 10s in Kuala Lumpur six times (1993, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2015), and have competed at the SCC Sevens in Singapore in 1997 and 1998 and every year since 2010, when they won.

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.

Along with GFI, other sponsors in 2017 include Natixis (gold sponsor), DHL, Q-Net and Withers (silver), CBRE, CPA Global (bronze) and Pure Blonde (official beer).

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