Fiji Sevens trio back for Biarritz Gavekal hat-trick quest at GFI HKFC 10s
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Sakeo Raloa, Samu Bale and Keponi Paul return as champions seek third straight Cup title, O’Donnell brothers back for three-time finalists Tradition YCAC, Kir Club Pyrenees recruit former All Blacks wing Frank Halai, while USA’s Tiger Rugby draft 2016 Olympic gold medallist Kitione Taliga
Hong Kong; March 29, 2019: Fiji Sevens trio Sakeo Raloa, Samu Bale and Keponi Paul will return for Biarritz Gavekal as the Cup holders attempt to win a third straight GFI HKFC 10s title at Hong Kong Football Club from April 3-4.
Bale and Kiwi back Nick Smith, captain last year, will both seek a third title in three years along with a trio from local club Valley: prop Grant Kemp and scrumhalf Ruan Du Plooy of South Africa, and Kiwi back-rower Karetai Williams.
Andrew Kelly, the former Scotland A hooker, and former France Sevens player Renaud Dulin return as Gavekal coaches for a third year and are joined by Mark Fatialofa, the former Samoa and Exeter centre who works with Kelly as part of the Hong Kong XV coaching staff.
“We were lucky two years ago, we were lucky last year, so we’re expecting to be lucky again this year,” joked team manager Jean-Baptiste Aldige, Executive Chairman of French club Biarritz. “Actually, this year it looks like the GFI HKFC 10s has quite a number of top teams able to bring home the Cup, which is good for the event and rugby in Hong Kong.
“Our focus is just to try to get out of our pool and reach the cup quarter-finals, because last year we were close to losing our first match. Our focus is on everything that we can control, because we can’t control external factors.”
Gavekal start in Pool A with Kir Club Pyrenees (eighth seeds), Projecx Waterboys (ninth) and Shanghai RFC Silver Dragons (16th).
David Darricarrere, who masterminded France’s victory in last year’s World Rugby U20 Championship, is head coach for a Pyrenees squad that includes Lyon centre Adrien Seguret from the U20 world champions and 6ft 5in wing Frank Halai, the former All Blacks and New Zealand Sevens winger.
Waterboys, Cup quarter-finalists for the last three years, have another strong squad including Glasgow Warriors and Scotland U20 scrumhalf Kaleem Barreto, Scotland Sevens forward Mungo Mason and Marr wing Scott Bickerstaff.
Second seeds Tradition YCAC, pipped 24-17 by Gavekal in last year’s final, head Pool B and return with a familiar squad including Kylem and Declan O’Donnell, both former Super Rugby and New Zealand Sevens players. Pool B also includes A-Trade Overseas Old Boys (seventh seeds), Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles (10th) and Irish Vikings (15th).
Overseas Old Boys have a strong backline including new England Sevens addition Jamie Barden and long-time Harlequins wing Charlie Walker, who’s among three England Academy Sevens players along with 19-year-old fliers Ben Harris and Femi Sofolarin.
Scottish Exiles is dominated by Hong Kong Scottish players but with additional Hong Kong XV reinforcements and players from new Global Rapid Rugby team South China Tigers including former China captain Ma Chong and fellow back Louie Liu Junkui. An improved Irish Vikings line-up includes former New Zealand Sevens wing Jesse Houston and current Cardiff flyhalf Steffan Jones.
Isake Katonibau, part of Fiji’s winning teams at the last four Hong Kong Sevens, will captain fourth seeds Mourant Fiji Army, who are coached by Jope Tuikabe and face a tough start in Pool D against Samurai International (fifth seeds), Hunter and Boo East Africans (12th) and USA’s Tiger Rugby (13th).
Fiji Army’s standout forwards include Sireli Ledua, Jolame Bera, Lemeki Damu and Jiuta Takubu, who are among the top players in Fiji’s domestic competition and have represented the country in either 15s or sevens.
Maori All Blacks boss Clayton McMillan is coaching a Kiwi-dominated Samurai squad, which includes many of his own players from Bay of Plenty including Tonga No. 8 Zane Kapeli and former Chiefs prop Jeff Thwaites. All Blacks Sevens stars Akuila Rokolisoa and Ngarohi McGarvey, and Wellington No. 8 Teariki Ben-Nicholas are among the non-Steamers.
East Africans reached the final of the third-tier Bowl last year and are back with a similar squad including Rwanda and Uganda internationals and seven Kenyans, including flanker Philip Awuor making a fourth appearance. South African hooker Ismaeel Schroeder and flyhalf Angelo Grant Nelson return for a second year with New Zealanders Irwin Finau, Nathan Vaatausili and Patrick Pati, while compatriot Villiam Muna joins this year.
Tiger Rugby, who reached the Bowl semis on their debut last year, have included 2016 Olympic gold medallist Kitione Taliga in their squad. Ben Broselle helped hosts USA retain their title at last month’s USA Sevens and the teenage centre is among four players returning to Hong Kong with Tigers along with recent USA Sevens representatives Cody Melphy and fullback Naima Fuala’au, plus Australia-born Harry Higgins, who will captain the side.
Flyhalf Greg Foe has played 15s and Sevens for Samoa, and also has GFI HKFC 10s experience with Asia Pacific Dragons in 2017, while powerful Kenya Sevens star Oscar Ouma is another to look out for.
Pools A, B, C and D will be held on Wednesday before the knockout matches commence on Thursday, when the Rugby Legends Tackle Cancer exhibition match will kick-off at 3.50pm – ahead of the Cup semi-finals – to raise money for Hong Kong Cancer Fund, the tournament’s official charity.
To date, the confirmed sevens and 15s internationals for Tackle Cancer comprise Alesana Tuilagi (Samoa), David Campese, Justin Harrison (Australia), DJ Forbes, Scott Waldrom, Terry Wright (New Zealand), Jim Hamilton (Scotland), Sam Viriviri (Fiji), Rowan Varty (Hong Kong), Simon Shaw, Tom Varndell, Andy Goode, Ben Gollings and Rob Vickerman (England).
The match will be a 10-a-side touch contest, with each team mixing the current and former rugby stars with amateurs. Money will be raised by sponsorship, participation and on-site donations.
34th GFI HKFC 10s: Teams by seeding/pool (with selected highlights)
- (A) Biarritz Gavekal (Cup winners 2017, 2018)
- (B) Tradition YCAC (Cup runners-up 2014, 2015, 2018)
- (C) Grove Penguins (Cup winners 2013, 2016)
- (D) Mourant Fiji Army (Debut 2019)
- (D) Samurai International (Cup runners-up 2010, 2013, 2016)
- (C) Asia Pacific Dragons (Cup winners 2012, 2014, 2015)
- (B) A-Trade Overseas Old Boys (Plate winners 2016; Plate runners-up 2018)
- (A) Kir Club Pyrenees (Cup semis 2009; Plate winners 2017)
- (A) Projecx Waterboys (Plate semis 2016, 2017, 2018)
- (B) Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles (Cup semis 2015; Bowl winners 2018)
- (C) Classic Wallabies (Bowl semis 2017, 2018)
- (D) Hunter and Boo East Africans (Bowl runners-up 2018)
- (D) Tiger Rugby (Bowl semis 2018)
- (C) Natixis HKFC (Shield Winners 2012, 2016, 2018)
- (B) Irish Vikings (Bowl runners-up 2009, 2017; Shield winners 2010, 2013)
- (A) Shanghai RFC Silver Dragons (Shield winners 2017)
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Press release distributed by i3 Sports on behalf of GFI HKFC 10s.
About GFI HKFC 10s
Hong Kong Football Club has hosted the 10s every year since it was first staged in 1986 to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary. The GFI HKFC 10s is annually held on the Wednesday and Thursday before the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens and is also sanctioned by the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU). GFI Group, a leading provider of brokerage services and trading support products, has title sponsored the event since 2006. The tournament traditionally attracts many stars of the game including seven of the New Zealand squad that won the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Since GFI started its title sponsorship, the tournament has featured Joe Roff and Toutai Kefu (both 2006), Jonah Lomu (2007), Brian Lima and Israel Dagg (2008), Bob Skinstad (2009), Waisale Serevi, Beauden Barrett and Sam Cane (2010), George Gregan and Christian Cullen (2011), Justin Marshall (2011, 2012), Mils Muliaina (2012), Marty Holah and Nehe Milner-Skudder (2013), George Smith, Alesana Tuilagi and Rupeni Caucaunibuca (2014), Todd Clever (2012, 2013, 2015), Rico Gear (2011, 2013, 2015), Jimmy Cowan, Carl Hayman and Nate Ebner (2016), Damien Traille (2017) and Wendell Sailor (2017-18).
About GFI Group Inc.
Founded in New York in 1987 and acquired by BGC Partners in 2015, GFI Group Inc (GFI) provides competitive wholesale market brokerage services in a multitude of global over-the-counter (OTC) and exchange listed cash and derivatives markets. Over more than 25 years, GFI has expanded both organically and through acquisitions into a broad range of markets, including fixed income derivatives, cash fixed income, emerging market financial products, energy and commodity derivatives, and equities. GFI employs more than 2,100 people with additional offices in London, Paris, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Cape Town, Santiago, Bogota, Lima, Dubai, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Calgary, Los Angeles and Sugar Land (TX). GFI provides services and products to over 2,600 institutional clients, including leading investment and commercial banks, corporations, insurance companies and hedge funds. Its brands include GFISM, GFInet®, CreditMatch®, GFI ForexMatch®, EnergyMatch®, FENICS®, Starsupply® and Amerex®.
About Hong Kong Cancer Fund
Our mission is to ensure that no one faces cancer alone. Hong Kong Cancer Fund is the city’s largest cancer support organisation, providing free information and professional support to anyone living with or affected by cancer. Established in 1987, our vision is to improve the quality of cancer support in Hong Kong and ensure that no one faces cancer alone. We began by offering free information and support, these activities have slowly expanded over time to address all aspects of care through our support centres in the community and hospital network. Our work now encompasses psychosocial services, public education, cancer research, home care, peer support, complementary therapies, funding of hospital equipment and much more. These services all help to address the gaps in cancer care and improve the lives of people touched by the condition. To facilitate our work, we have a network that comprises of five CancerLink support centres and Cancer Patient Resource Centres (CPRs) at seven major public hospitals.