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Rugby: Wright back in HK squad for Sevens World Series qualifier

Mark Wright (bottom row, far right) will play in his sixth Hong Kong Sevens but first since 2010, while Rowan Varty (top row, second right) will compete for the 10th time in 11 years.

Mark Wright (top row, far left) will play in his sixth Hong Kong Sevens but first since 2010, while Rowan Varty (top row, second right) will compete for the 10th time in 11 years.

March 20, 2015: Mark Wright will compete in his first Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens since 2010 after the Japan-based pro was named in the hosts’ 12-man squad for next week’s HSBC Sevens World Series qualifier, starting on Friday.


Wright, 30, replaced the injured Jack Capon in the only change to the Hong Kong squad that three weeks ago won the Asia-Pacific Cross-Regional Sevens in Sandakan, East Malaysia.


Head coach Gareth Baber has otherwise kept faith with the players that won last year’s ARFU Asian Sevens Series and competed in recent events in Margaret River, Darwin and Sandakan. Wright – a former mainstay of the side – did make a rare recent appearance when he helped Hong Kong reach the final of last year’s Asian Games in Incheon.


“Mark has always been part of the training squad at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, although he plays in Japan. We keep in constant contact with him. We know what his training is and what his schedule is like,” Baber said at the headquarters of team sponsor HSBC, where the squad announcement was made on Friday evening.


“He was coming to the end of the Japanese season, but it was always our intention to get him back here as soon as possible and see how he fit into the squad. He’s come back, he’s in good shape, he’s trained well for the last two weeks and he’s a good inclusion.”


Hong Kong are preparing for their fourth successive World Series qualifier, which will be held as part of the Hong Kong Sevens at the Hong Kong Stadium for the third time in four years.


Jamie Hood will again captain the squad, which includes long-serving stalwarts Rowan Varty – set to make his 10th appearance at the Hong Kong Sevens – brothers Alex and Tom McQueen, and Salom Yiu. New Zealand-born duo Nick Hewson, the Hong Kong 15s captain, and Lee Jones also provide experience.


Standout forward Max Woodward and scrumhalf Cado Lee Ka-to are among the squad’s younger players and will both play in their second Hong Kong Sevens, while Chris Maize, 20, and Michael Coverdale, 19, will make their tournament debuts.


The men’s team is a leading contender for the single available spot on the 2015/16 Sevens World Series, awarded to the winners of the 12-team qualifier. Hong Kong start with group matches against Mexico, Brazil and Uruguay in a tournament that features two teams from each of World Rugby’s six regions.


The Hong Kong women’s squad was also named on Friday as Anna Richards’ side prepare to compete in the Hong Kong Women’s Sevens, which will be held at King’s Park on Thursday and Hong Kong Football Club on Friday. The Cup final will be held as part of the men’s tournament at the Hong Kong Stadium on Friday afternoon.


Hong Kong face a tough group stage, having been drawn with China – one of the core teams on the Women’s Sevens World Series – Kazakhstan and Singapore.


Royce Chan Leong-sze will again captain the squad as she makes her 10th appearance in the tournament, while star players include speedsters Aggie Poon Pak-yan and Natasha Olson-Thorne.


Hong Kong men’s squad

Jamie HOOD (captain), Michael COVERDALE, Nick HEWSON, Lee JONES, Cado LEE Ka-to, Christopher MAIZE, Alex McQUEEN, Tom McQUEEN, Rowan VARTY, Max WOODWARD, Mark WRIGHT, Salom YIU Kam-shing

Head Coach: Gareth BABER; Coach: Kane JURY; Manager: Martin KIBBLE


Hong Kong women’s squad

Royce CHAN Leong-sze (captain), Christy CHENG Ka-chi (vice captain), Candy CHENG Tsz-ting, Adrienne GARVEY, KWONG Sau-yan, LAI Pou-fan, NAM Ka-man,  Natasha OLSON-THORNE, Aggie POON Pak-yan, Amelie SEURE, SHAM Wai-sum, Lindsay VARTY

Head Coach: Anna RICHARDS; Coach: Mark KOMAR; Manager: Dannii CHEUNG


Hong Kong Men: Pool E schedule

March 27 (Fri), 14.50: Hong Kong v Brazil

March 27 (Fri), 17.02: Hong Kong v Mexico

March 28 (Sat), 10.50: Hong Kong v Uruguay

All men’s matches at Hong Kong Stadium


Hong Kong Women: Pool B schedule

March 26 (Thu), 11.00: Hong Kong v Singapore

March 26 (Thu), 13.00: Hong Kong v Kazakhstan

March 26 (Thu), 15.50: Hong Kong v China

Thursday’s pool matches at King’s Park; Friday’s knockout stage at Hong Kong Football Club


For more information, visit: Hong Kong Sevens (

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