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Biarritz Gavekal battle back to secure GFI HKFC 10s three-peat

GFI HKFC Rugby Tens in Hong Kong Football Club, Hong Kong, China, on 4 April 2019. Photo by David Paul Morris/Clique Visuals

Top seeds rebound from first-day loss and come from behind in Cup final to defeat Samurai International, runners-up for the fourth time in ‘World’s Best 10s’

Hong Kong; April 4, 2019: Biarritz Gavekal secured a remarkable hat-trick of GFI HKFC 10s titles by coming from a try down to beat Samurai International 19-7 in the Cup final at Hong Kong Football Club.

Gavekal suffered a surprise 14-12 loss to Scotland’s Projecx Waterboys on day one and finished second in their pool, so had to defeat last year’s runners-up Tradition YCAC 12-5 in an intense quarter-final before thrashing debutants Mourant Fiji Army 43-0 in the semis.

In the final, they were 7-0 down to Samurai before drawing level with a try by Penikolo Latu and an excellent conversion from out wide by captain Nick Smith, two of five New Zealanders to score their points in the final.

Glenn Preston scored Gavekal’s second try to put the top seeds 12-7 up before a try by Hong Kong-based Karetai Williams – named Best and Fairest player of the tournament – and a Jason Robertson conversion put them out of reach.

Vice-captain in 2017, Smith has captained the side for the last two years and couldn’t contain his excitement as Gavekal became the first side to win three titles in a row since New Zealand Metro achieved the feat from 2006-08.

“It’s really special. When I first came here in 2017 and we were 11th seeds, I didn’t know what to expect. To think I’d be back winning the Cup for a third year is fairy-tale stuff,” said Smith.

“You can’t write this. I’m extremely happy. We played some of our best footie in the final and showed the growth of the team from the first to the last games.”

The all-action Williams was among several Hong Kong-based players in the squad and also among those to win the Cup for a third straight year.

“I think this year was probably the hardest. The standard of footy in the 10s is going up every year, so we’ve got to keep bringing more and more secrets out of the bag,” said Williams, who seemed genuinely surprised at his personal accolade.

“I think having more of a leadership role in the team made me kind of focus on my discipline and just offer more to the boys.

“As for winning, there’s a lot of pressure, but we run on excitement. It’s all about those 50-50s and we wiped those out in the final. We let the Kiwis and Fijians that come over finish with class, but it’s up to us Hong Kong boys to graft in the middle there. That’s all we’re here for.”

Tradition YCAC are the Plate winners during GFI HKFC Rugby Tens in Hong Kong Football Club, Hong Kong, China, on 4 April 2019. Photo by August Liu/Clique Visuals

Second seeds YCAC won the second-tier Plate with a 28-5 win over Stephen Larkham’s Classic Wallabies, as the Kiwi-dominated side lifted their first trophy in seven years after reaching the Cup final in in 2014, 2015 and 2018, and also three Cup semis.

“We’re pretty happy. Obviously we’d have liked to have been in the Cup final, fighting for the Cup, but we’re happy to win a bit of silverware,” said captain Warwick Lahmert, who has played for both New Zealand and England Sevens.

“The last two times I’ve been with Tradition YCAC, we’ve fallen short in the final. Playing Gavekal was like playing a final in the quarter-final, but that’s rugby. You’ve got to beat the best to be the best.”

USA’s Tiger Rugby won the third-tier Bowl in their second year at the tournament, also lifting silverware for the first time after a 12-7 win over France’s Kir Club Pyrenees.

Tiger’s squad included several USA 15s and sevens internationals, plus the likes of Kenya’s Oscar Ouma, Samoa’s Greg Foe and Fiji’s Kitione Taliga, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist.

“It’s an awesome feeling. Every time we come here it’s such an amazing atmosphere,” said Australia-born captain Harry Higgins, who has played for USA 15s.

“The boys really came together on day two. We put the structures together on day one, then came out here today and tried to execute as best we could, while minimising errors.”

Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles are the Shield winner of GFI HKFC Rugby Tens in Hong Kong Football Club, Hong Kong, China, on 4 April 2019. Photo by August Liu/Clique Visuals

Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles won the fourth-tier Shield with a 12-10 victory over hosts Natixis HKFC, whose squad was boosted by Samoan stars Neria Fomai and Alesana Tuilagi.

In the afternoon, a cheque for HK$250,000 was presented by the GFI HKFC 10s to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund, the tournament’s official charity, following the first Rugby Legends Tackle Cancer exhibition game.

Former England flyhalf Andy Goode captained a side including compatriots Jason Leonard, Simon Shaw, Rob Vickerman, Ben Gollings and Tom Varndell, Scotland’s Tom Smith, Hong Kong’s Rowan Varty and New Zealand’s Olivia Coady.

Waisale Serevi, the ‘King of Sevens’, and ‘Captain America’ Todd Clever joined a team captained by former Scotland lock Jim Hamilton.

The side also included Australians David Campese and Justin Harrison, New Zealanders DJ Forbes, Scott Waldrom and Terry Wright, ‘Samoan Bulldozer’ Alesana Tuilagi and Samoa women’s international Bella Milo, plus Fiji’s Sam Viriviri, the 2014 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year.

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Hashtags: #HK10s #worldsbest10s

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.

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