Rugby: Carter’s Racing 92 to tackle Highlanders in Hong Kong
- Updated: December 9, 2015
December 9, 2015: Dan Carter could face former New Zealand teammates in Hong Kong in February when his new French club Racing 92 tackle Super Rugby champions Highlanders in the Natixis Rugby Cup.
Sponsored by Natixis since 1997, Racing 92 effectively replace Toulon, who were originally set to face the Highlanders in a showdown between the champions of Europe and Super Rugby respectively.
Held at the 11,800-seat Siu Sai Wan Stadium on February 16, the match will be the first to feature a Super Rugby club in Asia and the first time the Highlanders have played against a northern-hemisphere club. It will also provide the New Zealand club with pre-season preparation as they look to defend their first Super Rugby title, won in 2015 with a team featuring four World Cup-winning All Blacks.
Scrumhalf Aaron Smith, fullback Ben Smith and centres Waisake Naholo and centre Malakai Fekitoa were all World Cup winners in England, while several other Highlanders have been capped for New Zealand, including flyhalf Lima Sopoaga.
Jamie Joseph, Head Coach of Highlanders, said: “Our preseason is a very important part of our preparation for Super Rugby. We look to provide opportunities for the team to be tested in different ways, so we view this game as an ideal way to do that. It will certainly be a stimulating challenge for the guys and I know it’s a match they are looking forward to.”
Racing 92 will compete in Hong Kong for the third time in three seasons, having faced Stade Toulousain in 2013 and fellow Natixis-sponsored club Hong Kong Football Club Rugby Section last year.
However, this time Racing 92 could bring Carter, who recently won the World Player of the Year for the third time for his key role in New Zealand’s World Cup success. Carter previously played in Hong Kong in the Bledisloe Cup tests in 2008 and 2010, but this would mark his first playing in the city for his club.
Racing 92 boast another 10 players from this year’s World Cup: seven for France (Dimitri Szarzewski, Brice Dulin, Yannick Nyanga, Rémi Talès, Bernard Le Roux, Alexandre Dumoulin and Eddy Ben Arous), two for Wales (Luke Charteris and Mike Philipps) and one for Italy (Martin Castrogiovanni). The team are currently third in the French Top 14 and competing in the European Rugby Champions Cup.
Organised by the Hong Kong Rugby Union and SL Events, the third Natixis Rugby Cup was formally launched on Wednesday afternoon by François Riahi, CEO of Natixis, Corporate & Investment Banking, Asia Pacific; Pieter Schats, Chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, and Vern Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Rugby Union.
Riahi said: “We are delighted to announce the third edition of the Natixis Rugby Cup, which reflects our commitment to supporting rugby and its development in Hong Kong and Asia, and to helping to spread the positive values of rugby.
“The fixture is truly unique and we are honoured to host two clubs of such calibre and international reputation. It promises to be a memorable sporting event and a wonderful day of rugby for spectators at the stadium and watching on television.”
The Natixis Rugby Cup continues Hong Kong’s tradition of hosting groundbreaking rugby events, including the first Bledisloe Cup played on neutral territory in 2008, the first British & Irish Lions match in Asia, versus the Barbarians in 2013, and the first Asian Zone Olympic qualifier for Rugby Sevens, held last month.
Source: HKRU (www.hkrugby.com); Editing by SportAsia