Tana Umaga’s top-seeded BGC APBs will face a strong Hill and Associates Scottish Barbarians side on the first day of next month’s GFI HKFC Tens after being drawn with the first-timers in Pool A. The 16-team tournament will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from March 21-22.
HSBC Penguins, two-time finalists, have been seeded second, while Borneo Eagles of Malaysia and 2010 runners-up Samurai International are ranked third and fourth respectively.
Rugby World Cup winner Mils Muliaina is among the star players for the Umaga-coached BGC APBs who last year reached the final on their tournament debut under Australia great David Campese.
However, Scottish Barbarians could prove a tough test as the squad is set to feature four Scotland sevens squad members not selected for the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, as well as leading players from Hong Kong Scottish and other local Premiership clubs.
Irish Vikings, who have former England winger David Rees heading an international line-up, and Playmore’s Shanghai Devils from the Shanghai Rugby Football Club are Pool A’s other two teams.
Dave Whiteford, General Manager for Hong Kong Scottish and a manager for Scottish Barbarians, believes the eighth seeds will impress on their GFI HKFC Tens debut.
“The four Scotland sevens players should help us make an impact, while our Hong Kong Scottish players include former sevens international Tom Bury and four former Scotland U-20 players. We also have some good players from other local clubs,” said Whiteford, one of the former U-20 representatives in the Scottish Barbarians squad.
“It will be a highlight for a lot of our players to play against Mils Muliaina, an All Blacks legend with 100 caps, especially less than six months after he won the Rugby World Cup. Irish Vikings have always been quite strong with some star names and that will be a key match if we want to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals.
“We’re promoting awareness of the Scottish Barbarians through a variety of societies and other channels, and even have the support of the Scottish Rugby Union, so hopefully we’ll have good numbers watching us at Football Club.”
The HSBC Penguins, runners-up in 2007 and 2008 and winners of the last two COBRA 10s in Kuala Lumpur, have been drawn in Pool B with International Panthers of Australia, who won the Plate in 2006.
The HKRFU Chairman’s X, made up of Hong Kong squad players, and China Agricultural University of Beijing are also in Pool B.
Borneo Eagles, who last month won a third straight title at the Hottest 7s in the World in Darwin, Australia, will play in Pool C with Brendan Laney’s sixth-seeded New Zealand Legends, runners-up in 2009 and pipped by BGC Asia Pacific Barbarians in last year’s quarter-finals.
The indigenous-focused Lloyd McDermott Foundation of Australia, Plate finalists last year and coached by former Wallaby Glen Ella, and hosts Hong Kong Football Club, the reigning Bowl champions, also play in Pool C.
Samurai, runners-up in 2010 and top seeds last year, are seeded fourth and will need to progress from Pool D if they’re to win the Hong Kong title for the first time following wins in Gold Coast and Dubai at the end of last year.
The renowned touring club, whose squad will be dominated by New Zealanders, have been drawn with fifth-seeded Tag Heuer Eyewear Pyrenees of France, Australian Country Invitational and Overseas Old Boys.
The tournament will encourage spectators with free entry on Wednesday and HK$100 tickets on Thursday.
Steve Thompson, England’s most-capped hooker and a 2003 Rugby World Cup winner, and former Leicester and England winger Leon Lloyd will attend as Ambassadors for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, the official charity of the GFI HKFC Tens.
In recent years, star players have included rugby legends Joe Roff and Toutai Kefu (both 2006), Jonah Lomu (2007), Brian Lima (2008), Bobby Skinstad (2009) and Waisale Serevi (2010). In 2011, George Gregan, Justin Marshall and Christian Cullen starred for BGC Asia Pacific Barbarians.
Now TV, the largest pay-TV operator in Hong Kong, is again broadcasting live action on Thursday as well as a post-tournament highlights show
GFI, a leading brokerage service provider, has been the tournament’s title sponsor since 2006, while other sponsors this year include HSBC, UBS (both Gold Sponsors) and Swire Properties (Silver Sponsor). Official suppliers include Heineken (Beer), Tsunami Sport (Kit) and Coast (Bar).
2012 GFI HKFC Tens
Hong Kong Football Club, March 21-22
Note: Tournament seedings in brackets
Hill & Associates Scottish Barbarians (8)
Irish Vikings (12)
Playmore’s Shanghai Devils (16)
HSBC Penguins (2)
International Panthers (7)
HKRFU Chairman’s X (11)
China Agricultural University (15)
SRC Borneo Eagles (3)
New Zealand Legends (6)
Lloyd McDermott Foundation (10)
Hong Kong Football Club (14)
Samurai International (4)
Tag Heuer Eyewear Pyrenees (5)
Australian Country Invitational (9)
Overseas Old Boys (13)Back >
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