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15th January 2018

Penguins, Samurai, YCAC confirm GFI HKFC 10s return

Hong Kong; January 15, 2018: Two-time champions Penguins, three-time runners-up Samurai International and twice finalists Tradition YCAC will lead the challengers at the 33rd GFI HKFC 10s from April 4-5.

The three renowned invitational sides will be among those looking to dethrone reigning champions UBB Gavekal who will again be coached by Matt Clarkin, former captain of Top 14 club Union Bordeaux Begles, at Hong Kong Football Club.

Penguins lost 10-7 to UBB Gavekal in last year’s final, having won the Cup in 2013 and 2016. Samurai are again looking to win for the first time after finishing runners-up in 2010, 2013 and 2016, while Tradition YCAC, a squad traditionally made up of top New Zealanders, were beaten finalists in 2014 and 2015.

Penguins manager Graeme Inglis said: “Last year we had a strong squad and played really well to reach the final, just edging YCAC in the semis. The final was really tight and it looked like we were heading for extra-time when they scored with a drop-kick and it was too late to come back.

Small margins, the bounce of the ball or a bit of luck can make the difference. We only beat Samurai after extra-time in 2016 and also edged them in 2013 in a really tight contest. We’re looking forward to trying again this year.”

Plate champions Kir Club Pyrenees of France, Australia’s King’s College sponsored by Strategic Equity Alliance, Scotland’s Projecx Waterboys and Hong Kong-based Scottish Exiles will also return after finishing in the top half of the 16-team competition last April.

Hosts Natixis HKFC will play in the event for the 33rd consecutive year since the 10-a-side tournament was inaugurated in 1986, while Irish Vikings, A-Trade Overseas Old Boys and Devil’s Own Shanghai RFC will compete for the 18th, 15th and seventh time respectively.

Crowd favourites Hunter + Boo East Africans – made up of internationals from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda – will participate for a fourth straight year in the two-day event, which precedes the Hong Kong Sevens.

Bill Mason, Tournament Director of the GFI HKFC 10s, said: “The confirmation of most of the event’s leading sides is testament to how seriously teams are taking the GFI HKFC 10s, which retains its reputation as the world’s most prestigious 10-a-side rugby event.

“The increasing professionalism of the teams and the number of pros and semi-pros competing requires tremendous organisation and an increasing amount of sponsorship, so preparation has been long underway for both the organisers and the teams. The full line-up, including at least two new teams, will be announced soon.”

UBB Gavekal won the Cup for the first time last April with a primarily Hong Kong-based squad boosted by four Fiji Sevens backs who played on the 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series.

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 All Blacks who won the 2015 Rugby World Cup – Conrad Smith, Jerome Kaino (both 2003), Ben Smith, Charlie Faumuina (both 2008), Beauden Barrett, Sam Cane (both 2010) and Nehe Milner-Skudder (2013).

Jonah Lomu, Mils Muliaina, Justin Marshall, Christian Cullen and Israel Dagg are among other All Blacks to have played at the 10s, while Australian stars have included George Gregan, George Smith, Wendell Sailor, Joe Roff, Toutai Kefu, Rod McCall, Tim Gavin, and Mark and Glen Ella.

Other former stars include South Africa’s Bob Skinstad and Cornall Hendricks, France’s Damien Traille, Fiji’s Waisale Serevi, five-time World Cup star Brian Lima of Samoa, England’s Will Carling, Jeremy Guscott and Rory Underwood, and Scotland’s Gavin and Scott Hastings.

GFI has title sponsored the event since 2006, while other sponsors and suppliers for 2018 include Allied World and Natixis (Gold Sponsors), DHL and Q-Net (Silver Sponsors), CBRE (Bronze Sponsor) and Samurai Sportswear (Official Apparel).


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