Launch! Classic Wallabies pooled with YCAC, Pyrenees, East Africans
The GFI HKFC 10s Official Launch at HK Exchanges and Clearing Ltd featured (l-r) Vern Reid, Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong Rugby Union; John Shanahan, Chairman, Hong Kong Football Club; Scott Tatham, Managing Director, GFI Asia-Pacific; Paul Kennedy, Group Chief Financial Officer, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited; David Nazer, Chairman, GFI HKFC 10s Organising Committee; Josh Lewsey, People Advisory Services lead (FSO) APAC, EY; Will Thomas, Teams Director, GFI HKFC 10s Organising Committee.
Two-time runners-up Tradition YCAC headline a tough group featuring star-studded Classic Wallabies and Kir Club Pyrenees squads, and a GoCloudWifi East Africans side boosted by talent from Fiji and New Zealand
Hong Kong; March 29, 2017: Tournament newcomers Classic Wallabies will face two-time runners-up Tradition YCAC and a Kir Club Pyrenees side captained by France legend Damien Traille in Pool D on the opening day of next week’s GFI HKFC 10s.
The seeding and four pools of four were announced at the tournament’s official launch press conference at the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd in Exchange Square, Central.
The 32nd GFI HKFC 10s will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from April 5-6, the Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens.
Classic Wallabies have been seeded fifth, one behind YCAC, while Pyrenees are ninth after winning the third-tier Bowl last year. Justin Harrison, a former Australia second-rower, will coach the Classic Wallabies, who will feature a mix of former Test internationals and Australia Sevens players.
Traille, 37, will captain Pyrenees in the French touring team’s 10th straight appearance, 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.
Traille and Harinordoquy, also 37, rank among France’s top 10 most capped internationals and both retired after last season’s Top 14, having played in three Rugby World Cups, reaching the semi-finals in 2003 and 2007 and the final in 2011.
The 13th-seeded East Africans are traditionally made up of internationals from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, but this year the squad has been boosted by players from New Zealand and Fiji.
Scott Tatham, Managing Director of GFI Asia Pacific, said: “GFI has title sponsored the GFI HKFC 10s since 2006 and we feel that the tournament gets stronger each year. The addition of the Classic Wallabies to this year’s line-up of 16 teams has been a great boost and I’m personally looking forward to watching some world-class rugby up close at Hong Kong Football Club in the middle of the city’s ‘Rugby Week’.”
Defending champions Penguin International are the top seeds and headline Pool A, where they’ll face a challenge from eighth seeds Projecx Waterboys, whose squad is packed with Scottish Premiership players.
The Penguins also face 12th seeds Irish Vikings, who have three teenagers in the England Sevens programme – flyhalf Tom Ffitch flanker, attached to Newcastle Falcons, centre Will Attfield and flanker Will Glover, younger brother of Sevens Series player Harry Glover, who shone for Vikings last year.
Devil’s Advocate Silver Dragons (SRFC and SUS), representing Shanghai RFC and the Shanghai University of Sport, are the 16th seeds and round out Pool A.
Second seeds Mourant Ozannes Samurai International will field another diverse, multi-national squad as they seek to win the Cup for the first time, having finished runners-up in 2010 and lost to The Penguins in the 2013 and 2016 finals.
Samurai are in Pool B and tackle seventh seeds Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles, 11th seeds UBB Gavekal – who have recruited four contracted Fiji Sevens players – and 15th seeds CRFA Gladiators, representing the Chinese Rugby Football Association.
Hogan Lovells Asia Pacific Dragons, champions in 2012, 2014 and 2015, are seeded third and will play in Pool C with sixth seeds A-Trade Overseas Old Boys, the young Australians of 10th-seeded King’s College at UQ - sponsored by Strategic Equity Alliance, and hosts Natixis HKFC, seeded 14th.
David Nazer, Chairman of the GFI HKFC 10s Organising Committee, said: “This is an exciting year for the GFI HKFC 10s. We’ve consolidated our reputation as the world’s most iconic 10s tournament with a great line-up of teams and many more famous players to be announced soon.
“The addition of the Classic Wallabies is exciting for both the tournament and the other teams, who have all been busy assembling some seriously strong squads, so we’re looking forward to an action-packed couple of days at Hong Kong Football Club.”
The GFI HKFC 10s is broadcast live on the official website (www.hongkongtens.com) and YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/hkfc10s).
Host broadcaster Now TV will also show live action on April 5 (1.40pm-9.00pm) and April 6 (3.00pm-8.30pm) on Now Sports Prime (Channel 600) and Now Sports 5 (Channel 635).
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). All ticket receipts and onsite donations will be given to the two official charities: The Umbrella Foundation (Nepal) and Khelo Rugby (India).
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).
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