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Rugby: Hong Kong to host four-team Cup of Nations in November

Jamie Hood of Hong Kong, who will play Russia, Portugal and Zimbabwe in November. Photo: ARFU.

Jamie Hood of Hong Kong, who will play Russia, Portugal and Zimbabwe in November. Photo: ARFU.

May 29, 2015: Hong Kong will host a new four-team Cup of Nations in November, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has announced. Russia, Portugal and Zimbabwe will travel to Hong Kong for a round-robin competition featuring six matches played on November 13, 17 and 21.

 

Hong Kong has hosted Belgium and Russia in the past two years for friendlies in the November international window and the HKRFU has now expanded the playing opportunities for its national team with a World Rugby-sanctioned competition.

 

Dai Rees, the HKRFU’s General Manager of Performance Rugby, said: “We have been working with World Rugby for a number of years to formalise a competition for Performance 2 and 3 level unions to ensure we play the number of annual matches recommended for countries that aspire to reach the Rugby World Cup.

 

“To reach the recommended seven to 10 annual fixtures, we need to combine our Asia Rugby Championship campaign – which is four matches in the spring – with touring or bringing in international teams for home tests in November. The Cup of Nations will help us reach the recommended number of matches.”

 

Russia, 19th in the World Rugby standings, are currently the highest-ranked team competing in the Cup of Nations, while Portugal are ranked 23rd and Zimbabwe 28th. Hong Kong moved up two spots to 25th after finishing second in the recent Asia Rugby Championship.

 

“The teams invited to participate in the Cup of Nations are all ranked between 18 and 28 in the world, providing broadly competitive fixtures for Hong Kong,” Rees said.

 

“These teams all regularly reach the final stages of qualification for the Rugby World Cup. All four teams, including Hong Kong, advanced deep into the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualification process but ultimately didn’t qualify.

 

“We want to play against teams just outside of the Rugby World Cup rankings, which is about the top 16 or 18 teams in the world, to engage in meaningful and competitive fixtures that will help us prepare for qualification for the Rugby World Cup in 2019.”

 

Source: HKRFU (www.hkrugby.com); Editing by SportAsia

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