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「世界七人欖球挑戰者系列賽」烏拉圭重燃戰火男子隊跟「宿敵」日本抽中同組 女子隊首場硬拼上站亞軍肯雅

 Hong Kong China Sevens teams set for second World Rugby Challenger competition in Uruguay


[香港,2024年3月8日] 休戰接近兩個月後,「世界七人欖球挑戰者系列賽」第二站賽事今日(8號)起一連三日於烏拉圭首都蒙特維多重燃戰火,中國香港男、女子隊在人選上作出些微變動,希望創造佳績;經抽籤後,香港男子隊跟「宿敵」日本隊在今站同處一組,再次同場鬥技。


一連三站的「世界七人欖球挑戰者系列賽」將決定能躋身2025年世界七人欖球系列賽的隊伍誰屬。經過今年一月第一站比賽後,肯雅及中國隊分奪男、女子組盃賽冠軍,中國香港隊則排在男子組第七位以及女子組第十位。


男、女子組各有12支球隊爭奪冠軍殊榮,今站跟中國香港女子隊同處B組有杜拜第一站的盃賽亞軍肯雅以及比利時、巴布亞新畿內亞。首站奪女子組冠軍的中國隊,跟波蘭、捷克及巴拉圭同處A組,而C組隊伍包括阿根廷、烏干達、泰國及墨西哥。


中國香港男子隊今站與第一站亞軍智利、亞洲「宿敵」日本及墨西哥同處B組,挑戰重重。第一站盃賽冠軍肯雅跟東加、格魯吉亞及葡萄牙處於A組,C組有東道主球隊烏拉圭、德國、烏干達及巴布亞新畿內亞。


中國香港隊日前定出男、女子隊各13名隨隊球員名單,最後上場的12人將在比賽前確定;男子組方面,港隊保留第一站的十名球員,傳鋒韋兆新(Russell Webb)及前鋒麥堅尼韋斯(Pierce MacKinlay-West)將缺席次站,由經驗豐富的虎拿當尼(Alessandro Nardoni)及傷癒復出的史戴爾斯(Hugo Stiles)與另一位前鋒占士梳亞(James Sawyer)在烏拉圭並肩作戰。


中國香港女子隊有較大的陣容調動,教練魏翊軍(Andy Vilk)換了四位球員,隊長之一的李念殷、前鋒陳穎、後鋒何維銨、林莎芘(Sabey Lynam)今站全部休戰;換入的球員包括於去年11月在日本大阪舉行的亞洲區巴黎奧運資格賽有份上陣的霍山文(Shanna Forrest)及馮凱晴,還有巴達莎姐妹皓兒及米奇拉(Chloe Baltazar及Micayla Baltazar),以及林芷欣。


隨隊的香港七人欖球隊總教練莊保羅(Paul John)表示:「這旅程非常漫長,足足30小時飛行時間,因此我們需要一些時間來恢復訓練,但賽前一星期我們練得不錯。」


「我們已經知道今站的分組形勢有一段時間了,所以相對於第一站的杜拜站,我們的準備功夫做得更足。」


「女子隊的備戰受到部份球員因事未能隨隊的影響,但男子隊的備戰情況良好,今次陣容多為經驗豐富的球員,虎拿當尼及史戴爾斯受傷後的康復訓練做得十分努力,他們現在都很健康,隨時準備重返戰場。」


莊保羅補充說:「女子隊的備戰確實甚具挑戰,幸好今仗加入霍山文及馮凱晴,她們在杭州亞運表現出色,加上巴達莎姐妹回歸是件好事,她們一直訓練有素,亦有很好的體能底子。」


根據賽程,中國香港男子隊一開波就要面對場場硬仗,必須要進入最佳的作戰狀態,頭場將於香港時間星期六(9號)凌晨12時55分對陣「宿敵」日本,緊接在同日早上6時04分硬撼上站亞軍智利,男子隊第三場小組賽將於周日(10號)凌晨12時40分對墨西哥。


女子隊首戰於香港時間星期五(8號)晚上11時36分展開,他們率先惡鬥上站亞軍肯雅,第二場於9號凌晨4時04分對比利時,同日晚上10時59分出戰最後一場小組賽對巴布亞新畿內亞。


「我們已做了最好的準備,球員們也很期待上場比賽,第一日的比賽很重要,第一場就對日本隊,我們雙方交手過很多次,包括今個賽季也是,我們都很了解日本隊,今仗也不例外,而智利更不用說,他們在上一站已躋身決賽。」


小組頭兩名及兩支最佳第三名的球隊可躋身至淘汰賽階段,通過八強和準決賽的爭奪後,決出季軍及金牌戰隊伍。每一場比賽都至關重要,因為在全部三站挑戰者系列賽完結後,位列頭四排名的球隊將進入五月底於馬德里舉行的總決賽,屆時,他們將與滙豐世界七人欖球系列賽位列尾四的球隊來一次升、降級的附加賽,成績最好的頭四名獲得2025年世界七人欖球系列賽的全年參賽權。


「毫無疑問,這個挑戰者系列賽競爭十分激烈,不單止每場比賽都很重要,每一攻一守都很重要,每時每刻都很重要,因為大家都在努力爭取更大的分差,甚至在淘汰賽階段取得更好的名次。港隊每一員都知道這一點,如果我們有野心要躋身到馬德里的總決賽,我們就需要一場出色的表現去提高我們現有的排名。」2024挑戰者系列賽的第三站亦是最後一站,將於五月於波蘭克拉科夫舉行。


所有參加「世界七人欖球挑戰者系列賽」的亞洲球隊將於下月4至7日亮相香港大球場,出戰「國泰/滙豐香港國際七人欖球賽」新增設的「Melrose銀劍賽」,這項比賽的「Melrose銀劍賽」是由蘇格蘭七人欖球發源地Melrose欖球會捐贈以示支持。為期三日的「Melrose銀劍賽」將以循環賽制進行,男子組有中國、日本及東道主中國香港,女子組有中國、泰國及中國香港,屆時必有一番龍爭虎鬥,為「國泰/滙豐香港國際七人欖球賽」增添色彩。


蒙特維多站港隊賽程(香港時間)

男子B組:

3月9日(星期六)凌晨12:55am(對日本)

3月9日(星期六)早上6:04am(對智利)

3月10日(星期日)凌晨12:40am(對墨西哥)


女子B組:

3月8日(星期五)晚上11:36pm(對肯雅)

3月9日(星期六)早上4:04am(對比利時)

3月10日(星期日)晚上10:59pm(對巴布亞新畿內亞)


「世界七人欖球挑戰者系列賽」(蒙特維多站):香港男子隊成員名單:

拜恩(隊長)、蔡紀駿、丹馬克、杜靴迪、房傑鋒、靴貝特、李卡度、麥古洛、虎拿當尼、菲立斯、占士梳亞、薩耶斯、史戴爾斯


「世界七人欖球挑戰者系列賽」(蒙特維多站):香港女子隊成員名單:

高香慧(隊長)、歐陽倩怡、巴達莎皓兒、巴達莎米奇拉,陳芷晴、莊嘉欣、霍山文、馮凱晴、林芷欣、藍嘉敏、奧亞娜、潘凱恩、韋嘉芘拉


資料及相片來源 : Elite Step Asia Limited / Hong Kong China Rugby



[Hong Kong, 8 March 2024]: The Hong Kong China Rugby Men’s and Women’s Sevens squads for the second of the World Rugby Challenger Series in Uruguay (8-10 March) have been announced. The three-tournament Challenger Series will determine spots on next season’s HSBC SVNS Series. The opening Challenger tournament in Dubai was won by Kenya (men) and China (women) in January; Hong Kong men finished seventh while the women finished in tenth place.


For the second event in Montevideo, Uruguay, Hong Kong China’s women were drawn with Dubai runners-up Kenya, Belgium and Papua New Guinea in Pool B. Series-leaders China are pooled with Poland, Czechia and Paraguay in Pool A with Argentina, Uganda, Thailand and Mexico in Pool C.


The men are in an equally challenging group with Dubai runners-up Chile, Asian rivals Japan and Mexico in Pool B. Dubai men’s winners Kenya are grouped with Tonga, Georgia and Portugal in Pool A, and Pool C features hosts Uruguay, Germany, Uganda and Papua New Guinea.


In the men’s team, 10 of coach Jevon Groves’ squad from Dubai return for the second leg, with fly-half Russ Webb and forward Pierce Mackinlay-West absent. A pair of Asian Games gold medallists in Ale Nardoni and Hugo Stiles have both returned from injury and been passed fit for round two.


Coach Andy Vilk’s women’s team features four changes. Co-captain Melody Li and fellow forward Chloe Chan are recovering from injuries, while backs Jessica Ho and Sabay Lynam are both unavailable. Shanna Forrest and Jasmine Fung Hoi Ching – both of whom featured at the Asia Rugby Olympic Qualifiers in November, and the Baltazar sisters, Micayla and Chloe, enter the squad for Uruguay.


“It was a very long journey to get here, around 30 hours of travel time, so it took us a bit of time to pick up where we left off in our training, but we have had a good week,” commented Hong Kong, China head sevens coach Paul John, speaking from Montevideo.


“We have known the draw for a while, so we could prepare a bit more than we were able to ahead of Dubai.

“The girls preparation was impacted by availability issues, but the boys have had a good build-up and we have named a very senior squad. Hugo and Ale have been really diligent in their rehab. They are both fit and ready to get back involved.


“The girls squad was more challenging to prepare, but Shanna and Jasmine both played well at the Asian Games and it will be good to have the Baltazar sisters back; They have trained well and offer good physicality,” added John.


The teams will be thrown into the deep end immediately in South America, with opening games against Japan (00:55, Sat. 9 Mar.) and Chile (06:04, Sat. 9 Mar.) for the men, while the women face second-ranked Kenya (23:36, Fri. 8 Mar.) and a well drilled Belgium (04:04, Sat. 9 Mar.) on Friday.


“We have prepared as best as we could, and the players are looking forward to it, but it will be a big day one – there is no doubt about that.


“We know Japan as well as anyone, we play them so often, including this season, and it is always close. There is no reason to expect this will be any different, and Chile has already reached a final,” John continued.


The top two from each pool and the two best third-placed finishers qualify for the knockout stages, with quarter-finals and semi-finals leading to the third place and gold medal matches.


The top four teams from the Challenger Series advance to the relegation play-off at the SVNS Grand Final in Madrid against teams ranked ninth to 12th from the HSBC SVNS 2024. Four successful nations from this Grand Final play-off will secure their place in the HSBC SVNS 2025.


“This Series is so competitive. Every game counts. Every play counts. Every moment matters in terms of trying to get a better points differential or a better place in the knockout stages. The boys need a big tournament, and they know that. If we have any ambition for the play-off in Madrid, we need a big performance to improve our rankings,” said John.


The third and final round of the 2024 Challenger series will be from 18-19 May.


All of the Asia Rugby teams participating in the Challenger Series will also be appearing at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (5-7 April 2024), when they contest a new competition over Sevens weekend, the Melrose Claymore, after a pair of the famed Scottish swords were donated as the silverware for the competition by Melrose RFC in Scotland. Hong Kong will host Japan and China men in the inaugural Melrose Claymores competition, while the women will host China and Thailand.


Hong Kong, China Men’s Seven for World Rugby Challenger Series (Montevideo): Seb BRIEN (Captain); James CHRISTIE; Max DENMARK; Liam DOHERTY; FONG Kit-Fung; Liam HERBERT; LEE Ka-to, Cado; Callum McCULLOUGH; Alessandro NARDONI; Bryn PHILLIPS; Harry SAYERS; Hugo STILES.


Hong Kong, China Women’s Sevens Squad for World Rugby Challenger Series (Montevideo): Natasha OLSON-THORNE (Captain); AU YEUNG Sin Yi; BALTAZAR, Chloe; BALTAZAR, Micayla; CHAN Tsz Ching; CHONG Ka Yan; FORREST, Shanna; FUNG Hoi Ching, Jasmine; NAM Ka Man; Julia MBA OYANA; POON Hoi Yan, Vivian; Gabriella RIVERS.


Information and Photo source : Elite Step Asia Limited / Hong Kong China Rugby

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