Magnificent 7 @ The Sevens – Jonah Lomu

The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has named Jonah Lomu as the seventh and final member of ‘The Hong Kong Magnificent Seven’, the HKRFU’s assembly of the top seven players to have played at the Hong Kong Sevens over the past 40 years.

Lomu was inducted into ‘The Magnificent Seven’ last night at the 40 Years of Sevens Gala dinner in Hong Kong along with the announced co-winners of the HKRFU’s Hong Kong Hometown Legend campaign, Rowan Varty and Keith Robertson.

Quite possibly the most famous rugby player in history, Jonah Lomu made his debut appearance in Hong Kong in 1994, giving Hong Kong Sevens fans a privileged opportunity to witness a superstar in the making.

Lomu came to Hong Kong as an unheralded youngster but exited the Sevens on the cusp of stardom. Months later he would be selected as the then youngest-ever All Black at just 19 years and 45 days old, making his debut appearance against France. The following year he cemented his reputation as rugby’s most unstoppable force by scoring seven tries at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.

Lomu would return to the Hong Kong Sevens in 1995 and 1996 to anchor New Zealand to three successive tournament victories and secure himself an abiding place in Hong Kong’s sporting lore.

He also helped New Zealand win the gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and led his country to its first Rugby World Cup Sevens victory at the 2001 world championships in Argentina. He is the third Kiwi named in ‘The Hong Kong Magnificent Seven’.

The expert panel of sevens specialists convened by the HKRFU to adjudicate ‘The Hong Kong Magnificent Seven’ obviously did their homework. At yesterday’s pre-event press conference ahead of the 2015 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (27-29 March), Sir Gordon Tietjens, in charge of the New Zealand Sevens team since 1994, was queried about the three best players he has ever coached.

Magnificent 7 @ The Sevens – Jonah Lomu

After little deliberation, Tietjens named Eric Rush, Christian Cullen and Lomu. All three have been named into the Magnificent Seven – making New Zealand the only nation with multiple recipients of this unique honour.

The complete Hong Kong Magnificent Seven are:

Zhang Zhiqiang China
Ben Gollings England
Christian Cullen New Zealand
Eric Rush New Zealand
David Campese Australia
Waisale Serevi Fiji
Jonah Lomu New Zealand

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Hong Kong Women’s Sevens 2015 – Day 1 Results

Tournament Results - Day One Results 2015

A superb unbeaten run from Hong Kong, including a 31-14 victory over Asian champions China, pushed the hosts into a commanding position at the end of the opening day of the Hong Kong Women’s Sevens 2015.

Hong Kong defeated Asian Games Gold medalists China, who also feature on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, in the final match of the day to set up an enticing Cup quarterfinal clash against Samoa. Hong Kong will play Samoa tomorrow in the last cup quarterfinal at 10.40am at Hong Kong Football Club.

“China doesn’t seem to be as good as when we came across them last year in the Asian Series. It doesn’t mean to say that they have changed their whole team, but they definitely have a few new girls here this weekend but we have definitely improved our game,” said Hong Kong coach Anna Richards.

A brace from Natasha Olson-Thorne in the first five minutes, gave Hong Kong a confidence boost against China. A lovely solo effort from Aggie Poon from deep inside Hong Kong territory increased the lead to 19-0 at the break. China came back in the second half with a try but Hong Kong remained composed with Lai Pou-fan outstanding in defence forcing the mainland girls into repeated Lindsay Varty added a fourth try making full use of the space created by Kwong Sau-yan. Hong Kong rounded off a solid performance with Kwong scoring a fifth try before China scored a late consolation try.

Hong Kong had earlier in the day pulled off another fine victory over Kazakhstan 17-5, and opened their account with a 41-0 win over Singapore. “I am very happy with the way the girls performed and very happy with where we finished after day one. It has given us a great shot at day two,” said Richards. “We talked a lot this week about being calm and having ball control and that was what I was “We started off pretty well against Singapore and we scored a lot of early points, maybe we got a bit scrappy in the last three minutes or so but we still managed to win 41-0, so I was very happy with our start.

“We played a great match against Kazakhstan. Again we spoke about being calm and composed and a lot about ball control and keep tackling,” said Richards. “Our girls tackled their hearts out and scrambled really well on defence and scored three very important tries which gave us a fantastic win. Last year, we traded wins with Kazakhstan over the season, but today our game against them was probably some of the best rugby and free-running rugby that I have seen our girls play. That game gave the girls a huge amount of confidence going into the China game,” Richards continued.

Hong Kong will come up against Samoa who they met last month in a losing cause at “Our girls were really disappointed the last time we played and this give us another shot at them,” Richards added.

Hong Kong’s goal is to reach the Cup final for the first time in the history of the Hong Kong Women’s Sevens and play in front of the Friday night crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens.

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Rowan Varty: Hong Kong Sevens Legend

Rowan Varty: Hong Kong Legend

Rowan Varty, a local rugby legend, is Hong Kong’s all-time leading try and points scorer at the Sevens. bc spoke to him as he prepares to compete in his 10th Sevens and amazingly to make his 30th visit to So Kon Po.

How can a 29 year old be attending his 30th HK Sevens?
By going every year of my life! I was born just before the Sevens, my parents took me as new born baby and I guess I enjoyed myself.

As a spectator, any memories that stand out?
The 1993 final between Western Samoa (as they were) and Fiji. W. Samoa won and it was pouring with rain. The atmosphere was electric, it’s the only time I can remember getting the same feeling off the pitch as on it!

As a player how have the Sevens changed for you over the last decade?
Our approach has become more professional. We used to go to the South Stand in between games to hang out with our mates. Now we go back to the hotel and rest! It is still the highlight of the year though.

IMG_8893-XLFavourite HK Sevens team memory?
It has to be winning the shield in 2010. It was the first year of the new format, so it was equivalent to winning the old bowl. We were mobbed after collecting the trophy and only made it a quarter way round the stadium on the victory lap before Canada, who had won the next final, overtook us!

Worst team experience?
The 2011 Sevens. We lost every game and it was a rude awakening.

Sevens is very much a team game, but what’s your favourite personal moment as a player?
Each time we run out of the tunnel and the stadium erupts, it makes training hard all year worthwhile.

You’re the all time leading HK try scorer at the HK Sevens what’s your ‘best’/favourite try you’ve scored at the HK Sevens?
I scored an important try in the quarter finals against Chile last year. It may not have been the most glamorous but it got us to the semis.

What do you do between games?
If theres a big enough break we will go back to the hotel and rest up. Its good to have a mental switch off between the periods of focus around the games. Otherwise we hang out in the players area across the road.

Do you watch many of the other games over the weekend?
We try to. I enjoy watching Fiji and England, so any chance I get I’ll watch them play. Also if other Asian teams are playing I’ll make the effort. We will often watch upcoming opponents if they are playing each other to get a feel of their game.

Pulling on the national jersey and running out into a cauldron of noise as 40,000 fans roar in support, can you describe what that feels like?
It is a feeling worth living for! If we have had a couple of good results, the fans are usually extra vocal and it lifts you as a player.

Catch Rowan and the rest of the Hong Kong team this weekend as look to qualify for the Sevens World Series by winning in Hong Kong.

Image and video courtesy of their respective owners

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Magnificent 7 @ The Sevens – Waisale Serevi

Waisale Serevi, perhaps the most influential player in the history of sevens, has been announced as the sixth player inducted into the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union’s ‘The Hong Kong Magnificent Seven’.

Widely considered the world’s greatest-ever sevens player, Serevi was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2013 on the sidelines of the Hong Kong Sevens, where he made his international rugby name. He is the first Fijian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and the first of his countrymen inducted into ‘The Hong Kong Magnificent Seven’.

Serevi, ‘the little magician’, made his Hong Kong debut in 1989, winning player of the tournament honours on debut, and would return on an astonishing 15 further occasions (1990-2000, 2002 and from 2005-07 as player/coach).

Serevi was a part of five cup-winning teams and reached the final on a further seven occasions, massively contributing to Fiji’s record 14 victories in Hong Kong. He was also instrumental in both of Fiji’s Rugby World Cup Sevens wins in Hong Kong in 1997 and 2005.

Uniquely, he has been named the best and fairest player of the Hong Kong Sevens on three occasions (1989, 1990 and 1998) and was also the player of the tournament at both the 1997 and 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong.

Serevi spearheaded two periods of remarkably sustained success for Fiji including three consecutive wins from 1990 to 1992 and from 1997 (Rugby World Cup Sevens) to 1999, making Fiji the only nation to have twice accomplished a three-peat in Hong Kong. New Zealand won from 1994 to 1996 and England won from 2002 to 2004.

Serevi also led Fiji to two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002 and captured bronze in 2006. In 2005 he was appointed the Fiji Sevens coach, leading the team to the 2005/06 HSBC Sevens World Series title – the first occasion since the series’ inception in 2000 that the circuit was won by a team other than New Zealand.

In fifteen-a-side, Serevi played 39 times for Fiji in a career that ran from 1989 to 2003, scoring a total of 376 points. In 2002 Serevi topped 1,000 points all-time in Hong Kong.

He returned to lead Fiji to victory once again in Hong Kong at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2005, cementing his position in history by finishing as the Rugby World Cup Sevens’ all-time leading points scorer and goal scorer, and the second highest all-time try scorer.

Magnificent 7 @ The Sevens – Waisale Serevi

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