France legends Harinordoquy, Traille boost Pyrenees bid at HKFC 10s
Kir Club Pyrenees won the third-tier Bowl last year. Photo: Power Sport Images for HKFC.
Damien Traille and Imanol Harinordoquy – who both won over 80 caps and played in three Rugby World Cups – will be captain and coach respectively as Kir Club Pyrenees compete in their 10th straight GFI HKFC 10s
Hong Kong; March 7, 2017: Damien Traille will captain Kir Club Pyrenees in next month’s GFI HKFC 10s, while his long-time France teammate Imanol Harinordoquy – a former World Rugby Player of the Year nominee – will co-coach the team alongside Yannick Vignette.
Both Traille and Harinordoquy retired after last season’s Top 14 and the two France legends will add a big presence, star power and vast experience to Pyrenees as the French touring team compete in the 10-a-side tournament at Hong Kong Football Club for a 10th straight year.
Traille and Harinordoquy, both 37, are among France’s top 10 most capped internationals. The pair played together for club and country for much of their professional career, including at three Rugby World Cups and during three Grand Slams.
They will soon link up in Hong Kong at the 16-team GFI HKFC 10s, which will be held from April 5-6, ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens. On Tuesday, April 4, both will participate in an afternoon coaching clinic and a dinner at Hong Kong Football Club.
Traille said: “I’m flattered to be invited by Pyrenees to play in the GFI HKFC 10s, especially as it’s the team’s 10th appearance in Hong Kong.
“The tournament has a strong reputation and many top internationals have played in it, so I’m looking forward to experiencing what makes it so special. Pyrenees won the Bowl last year and I know they want to win another trophy this year.”
France’s sixth most capped international, the 6-foot 4-inch Traille scored 14 tries in 86 tests from 2001 to 2011, playing mostly as a centre but also at fullback and flyhalf.
The 6-foot 3½-inch Harinordoquy was a renowned No. 8, scoring 13 tries in 82 tests from 2002 to 2012, and was the only northern-hemisphere nominee for the 2010 World Rugby Player award won by Richie McCaw.
Traille and Harinordoquy were teammates as France reached the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cups in 2003 and 2007, and then the final in Auckland in 2011, where Les Bleus lost 8-7 to hosts New Zealand after an epic battle.
Harinordoquy helped France win the Six Nations four times (2002, 2004, 2007 and 2010), including the Grand Slams of 2002, 2004 and 2010, while Traille was part of the Six Nations-winning squad in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007.
Traille was born in Pau and Harinordoquy in nearby Bayonne, and they played together at Pau for the first few seasons of their professional careers.
In 2004, both joined Biarritz and helped them win the Top 14 in the following two seasons (2014-15, 2015-16) before eventually leaving in 2014 when the club was relegated. Traille played his final two pro seasons at Pau, while Harinordoquy was at Toulouse.
The two France icons will join a cast of former Australia internationals at the GFI HKFC 10s, where the Justin Harrison-coached Classic Wallabies will debut with a side strengthened by Australia Sevens and Australia U20 players.
Defending champions Penguin International, 2016 runners-up Samurai International, three-time champions Hogan Lovells Asia Pacific Dragons and two-time finalists Tradition YCAC will be among the favourites, as the ‘big four’ have dominated the Cup competition in recent years.
A-Trade Overseas Old Boys, Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles, Projecx Waterboys, King’s College at UQ – sponsored by Strategic Equity Alliance, UBB Gavekal, Irish Vikings, East Africans, CRFA Gladiators, Devil’s Advocate Silver Dragons (Shanghai RFC) and hosts Natixis HKFC also return from 2016.
Inaugurated in 1986 to celebrate Hong Kong Football Club’s centenary, 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 Allied World and Natixis (gold sponsors), BT/Riverbed, DHL, Q-Net, Swire Properties/Taikoo Place and Withers (silver), CBRE, CPA Global, EY, Markel and Tricor (bronze), Pure Blonde (official beer), Home Alimental (official water), Tsunami Sport (official apparel), Regal Hongkong Hotel (official hotel) and CUHK Sports Medicine (medical support).
Tickets are available at Ticketflap (www.ticketflap.com/gfi2017), including ‘Early Bird’ offers for two days of rugby (HK$150) and the After Party (HK$250).
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