20th – 22nd July, 2018 – AT&T Park, San Francisco, United States
The Hong Kong national rugby sevens team are everything but favorites as they head to the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 to be held in San Francisco this weekend.
The current structure at the World Cup will see every match played as a knock out, so much that the eventual winner will have quite literally won all matches on course to being crowned with the Melrose Cup.
Hong Kong, albeit with no complaints, will have to go through the trouble of playing in a preliminary match for the round of 16, in fulfilment of the statute that requires teams seeded between ninth and 24th to go through the campaign defining opener.
As such, the Asian side will line up against Russia, who in the same vein have to go through a preliminary selection process, as they are seeded fourteenth in the World Cup standings.
This is in stark contrast to the conventional pool play format where teams were guaranteed three group matches from whence alignments would be made to determine the sides that advanced from the pool.
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Hong Kong will without question draw confidence from the fact that they inflicted a 26-19 defeat to Russia during last year’s Singapore circuit of the HSBC Sevens World Series. The Europeans are nonetheless no whipping boys, as they have gained an enormous wealth of experience having played in the World Series for the past three seasons.
In the event that Hong Kong knocks out Russia, they could face a greater and more ruthless adversity in New Zealand in the round of 16. The All Blacks secured safe passage into the round of 16 by virtue of being seeded in the top eight – second specifically behind tournament heavyweights South Arica.
Although head coach Paul John is skeptical of the decision to do away with the pools format, the Hong Kong Sevens boss is welcoming of the knock out structure, due to the extensive analysis and attention to detail that comes with it, as his charges only prepare for one game at a time.
Should Hong Kong lose to Russia, they will be relegated to the Bowl where they will in spite of that be assured of four highly competitive matches that will go a long way in gauging them, as far as preparation for the Asian Games scheduled for August is concerned.
Paul John’s charges arrived in San Francisco in high spirits, having spent the last two weeks in Algarve and Amsterdam.
Hong Kong 7s team – Rugby World Cup Sevens
The Hong Kong boss made a radical approach in his selection process for the World Cup, as he enforced five changes to the side that took part in the 2018/19 World Series qualifying competition at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens back in April.
The experienced Lee Jones returns to the squad after a lengthy spell on the sidelines following an Achilles injury, and is joined by Hugo Stiles and Eric Kwok Pak-nga.
Alessandro Nardoni and Liam Herbert on the other hand have impressed John just enough to earn their debut call up in the tournament.
Squad: Eric Kwok Pak-nga, Ben Rimene, Lee Jones, Toby Fenn, Michael Coverdale, Salom Yiu Kam-shing, Jamie Hood, Cado Lee Ka-to, Max Denmark, Liam Herbert, Alessandro Nardoni and Hugo Stiles.
Overall Hong Kong Sevens betting prospects
Hong Kong is the lowest rated team at the Rugby World Cup Sevens, with a likelihood of +50000 at 5Dimes to lift the much sought after prize. The Asians share the same odds with a host of teams including Tonga, Uganda, Jamaica, and Papua New Guinea.
Hong Kong World Cup Fixture
Russia 7s vs. Hong Kong 7s: Saturday, July 21, 2018 2:51p.m Local time – AT&T Park, San Francisco, United States
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