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19th March 2018

Fixtures set! Cup holders UBB Gavekal pooled with Classic Wallabies


Two-time winners Turkish Airlines Penguins grouped with Scotland’s Projecx Waterboys, Tradition YCAC face Australia’s King’s College, while Samurai – coached by Fiji Sevens legend Nasoni Roko – tackle France’s Kir Club Pyrenees at Hong Kong Football Club

Defending champions UBB Gavekal will face the star-studded Classic Wallabies on the opening day of the 33rd GFI HKFC 10s, which will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from April 4-5.

Top-seeded UBB, again coached by former Union Bordeaux Begles captain Matt Clarkin, will headline Pool A and take on Wendell ‘Big Dell’ Sailor and other Classic Wallabies (eighth seeds), A-Trade Overseas Old Boys (12th) and Hunter + Boo East Africans (16th).

Turkish Airlines Penguins, finalists last year, have recalled ‘co-coaches’ Willie Walker and former All Black Scott Waldrom, who led the side to victory in 2016. The second seeds start their bid for a third Cup title in Pool B and will face Scotland’s Projecx Waterboys (seventh), Irish Vikings (11th) and hosts Natixis HKFC (15th).

Tradition YCAC have reached two Cup finals and three semis in their first five appearances and Simon Ryan’s third seeds will tackle Australian youngsters King’s College sponsored by Strategic Equity Alliance (sixth), American newcomers CCIG Tigers (10th) and Devil’s Own Shanghai Silver Dragons (14th) in Pool C.

Fiji Sevens legend Nasoni Roko will coach Samurai International as they field an all-Fijian line-up in a bid to win the Bill Burgess Cup at the 12th attempt after losing in the final in 2010, 2013 and 2016.

The fourth seeds are in a tough Pool D where they will face France’s Kir Club Pyrenees (fifth), last year’s Plate winners, Hong Kong-based Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles (ninth), who reached the Cup semi-finals in 2015, and English debutants Sedbergh School Old Boys (13th).

Tournament Director Bill Mason said: “UBB Gavekal’s outstanding side last year featured four Fiji Sevens players and has given us another leading contender for the Cup, so the depth of top-quality teams just keeps increasing year on year.

“Turkish Airlines Penguins and Tradition YCAC have again recruited some top-quality New Zealanders, while Samurai are again fielding an all-Fijian side, as they did to great effect a few years ago. All the other teams continue to recruit more intensely each year, so it should be a great tournament, especially as finals day on the Thursday is a public holiday.”

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Samurai Fiji Barracudas, Samurai are fielding a Fijian squad at the GFI HKFC 10s for a second time, after a side featuring Roko and other former internationals reached the final in 2013. Roko, 38, still ranks among the World Rugby Sevens Series’ top 20 all-time try scorers.

Terry Sands, who founded Samurai in 1996 and co-founded Fiji Barracudas with former Fiji Sevens selector Sailosi Naiteqe in 2008, said: “With the 10th anniversary of Samurai Fiji Barracudas this year, it seemed fitting to select an all-Fijian team to play in this year’s GFI HKFC 10s.

“Sailosi has worked tirelessly for the last 10 years to help these players realise the benefits this wonderful game can bring. As the former head coach, Sailosi is now deservedly taking up the Chairman’s role so it’s fitting that Roko, who first played for Samurai almost 15 years ago, now takes up the position of head coach.”

Sam McGuffie, who had stints with NFL teams Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots, competed for the USA bobsled teams in last month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and will play for CCIG Tigers, a development partner of USA Rugby.

Sedbergh School Old Boys team, the event’s other first-timers, will be captained by former England rugby league international Ewan Dowes, while the 6-foot 6-inch, 20-stone Dean Schofield, who won two caps for England and played for Sale Sharks and Toulon, was also included in the provisional squad.

Sedbergh School is renowned for producing over 30 rugby union internationals including long-time England captain Will Carling and 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood, while Dowes is a rare public school-educated rugby league international.

GFI has title sponsored the event since 2006. Other sponsors and suppliers for 2018 include Natixis (Gold Sponsor), AIA, Allied World, BT, DHL, Q-Net and Taikoo Place (Silver Sponsors), CBRE, EY and Markel (Bronze Sponsors), Last Word Media, Volvo (Official Car), Grolsch (Official Beer) and Samurai Sportswear (Official Apparel).

The Official Charity is the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, created in support of former Scotland and Lions lock Doddie Weir who is suffering from Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

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).


Pool A

UBB Gavekal (1)

Classic Wallabies (8)

A-Trade Overseas Old Boys (12)

Hunter + Boo East Africans (16)

 

Pool B

Turkish Airlines Penguins (2)

Projecx Waterboys (7)

Irish Vikings (11)

Natixis HKFC (15)

 

Pool C

Tradition YCAC (3)

King’s College sponsored by Strategic Equity Alliance (6)

CCIG Tigers (10)

Devil’s Own Shanghai Silver Dragons (14)

 

Pool D

Samurai International (4)

Kir Club Pyrenees (5)

Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles (9)

Sedbergh School Old Boys (13)

 

Match schedule: www.hongkongtens.com/match.php

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