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中國香港七人欖球隊參戰「挑戰者系列賽」力覓世界七人欖球系列賽席位 Team Hong Kong, China hunt for World Series spots at Challenger Se

[ 2023年4月13日,香港 ]: 香港欖球總會(欖總)宣佈男子及女子七人欖球隊將於4月底參加「滙豐世界七人欖球挑戰者系列賽」(HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series)。「挑戰者系列賽」是奪得2024年「滙豐世界七人欖球系列賽」七個分站參賽資格的其中一個途徑,港隊將於4月21日至23日,以及28日至30日出征南非泰倫博斯馬科特大球場(Markotter Stadium)舉行的兩場男女子賽事。

中國香港七人欖球隊主教練莊保羅(Paul John)和男子隊主帥高勳(Jevon Groves)公佈了兩場比賽的陣容,包括15名男子及16名女子球員將於本周五出發南非備戰。

自2010年以來再次在「國泰/ 滙豐香港國際七人欖球賽」贏得銀盾賽冠軍的男子隊將全員13人,再加上前鋒高凡戴爾(Michael Coverdale)和強大的翼鋒薩耶斯(Harry Sayers)一同出征南非。

今仗將是翼鋒姚錦成創紀錄的第71次代表中國香港出戰七人欖球賽,而拜恩塞巴(Seb Brien)則是首位本地球員在整個香港國際七人欖球賽週末中以六個達陣紀錄領先達陣積分榜,他有望繼續發揮出戰香港七欖時的氣勢和精彩表現。

由於男子世界七人欖球系列賽將於下一賽季縮減至12支球隊參賽,在「挑戰者系列賽」中勝出的男子隊將與三支即將從世界七人欖球系列賽中淘汰的球隊一起參與5月20日至21日在倫敦特威克納姆球場(Twickenham Stadium)舉行的賽事,爭奪能夠參與下季世界七人欖球系列賽的最後席位。

「挑戰者系列賽」共有12支男子隊參與角逐,中國香港與智利、巴布亞新幾內亞和意大利同組。

港隊經過長期的歷練,包括3月份的婆羅洲七人欖球賽和「國泰/ 滙豐香港國際七人欖球賽」,以及上周的新加坡國際七人欖球賽,已有廿多位球員有機會出賽表現,以爭取成為「挑戰者系列賽」15人隊伍中的其中一員。

男子隊主帥高勳表示:「在過去四個月裡,我們用上了21位資深球員,而過去三場大賽中,我們也有機會看清每位球手的水平,並從中挑選最適合出戰今仗的球員。」

高勳續說:「選兵的決定一點也不容易,因為每一位球員在過去三場大賽中也十分積極地爭取表現。由於今仗是連續兩星期共兩場為期三日的比賽,這將是一個高度消耗耐力的持久戰,因此我們挑選了實力平均的陣容,這也是我們所需要的平衡兵力。」

這是港隊第三次參加「挑戰者系列賽」,上兩次分別是在2020年首屆系列賽中敗陣日本而獲得亞軍,以及在2022年獲得第五位。

高勳補充道:「今次我們劍指冠軍,過去三個月是備戰和選兵的大好機會。現在是我們展示實力和爭取結果的時候。」

繼中國香港女子七人欖球隊首次亮相「國泰/ 滙豐香港國際七人欖球賽」後,這亦是女子港隊首次獲得「挑戰者系列賽」的參賽資格。

勝出「挑戰者系列賽」的女子隊將直接晉級參加「滙豐世界女子七人欖球系列賽」,成為國際巡迴賽12支球隊中的其中一隊。莊保羅挑選了一支經驗豐富的隊伍,當中保留了曾出戰香港國際七人欖球賽的12名女子隊伍中的10位球員。

球隊的核心人物高香慧(Natasha Olson-Thorne)和李念殷將再次在南非擔任雙隊長,而資深的莊嘉欣亦已恢復狀態回歸。藍嘉敏、何維銨、陳穎、歐陽倩怡和陳楚琪均繼續入選。

而新一代精英七人欖球員也將出征南非,包括在香港大球場表現非常出色的謝詠翹和韋諾蒔(Rosie Wright)亦相繼入選,而蘇綺琦和霍山文(Shanna Forrest)都雙雙入選出征陣容。

為了進一步加強本已緊密團結的球隊凝聚力,女子隊陣容選上了兩對姐妹組合,包括米奇拉巴達莎(Micayla Baltazar )和皓兒巴達莎(Chloe Baltazar ),以及韋嘉芘拉(Gabriella Rivers)和里花斯(Georgia Rivers)。當中只有米奇拉巴達莎在三月底曾出戰「國泰/ 滙豐香港國際七人欖球賽」。這支女子隊陣容現已準備就緒,把握成為2024年世界女子七人欖球系列賽的參賽球隊之一。

對於主教練莊保羅來說,女子隊在香港國際七人欖球賽的表現有很多值得借鑒的地方,他說:「這是女子隊首次參加『挑戰者系列賽』,我們很高興能夠參與其中。這是繼香港七欖後,球隊繼續向前邁進的好機會。我們應該為當日的表現感到自豪。我們開賽不錯,而且防守也做得很好。現在,我們要面對的挑戰是將當日的表現作為球隊的基準,保持同一水平之餘亦要不斷進步。」

「滙豐世界七人欖球挑戰者系列賽」(2023年4月)中國香港男子七人欖球隊出征名單:

禾獲特(隊長)、拜恩塞巴、蔡紀駿、高凡戴爾、丹馬克、靴貝特、麥堅力、麥堅尼韋斯、麥古洛、麥季聰、虎拿當尼、薩耶斯、史戴爾斯、韋兆新、姚錦成

「滙豐世界七人欖球挑戰者系列賽」(2023年4月)中國香港女子七人欖球隊出征名單:

高香慧(雙隊長)、李念殷 (雙隊長)、歐陽倩怡、米奇拉巴達莎、皓兒巴達莎、陳穎、陳楚琪、莊嘉欣、霍山文、何維銨、藍嘉敏、韋嘉芘拉、里花斯、蘇綺琦、謝詠翹、韋諾蒔



[Hong Kong, 13 April 2023]: The Hong Kong Rugby Union announced the men’s and women’s sevens squads set to compete in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series at the end of April. The Series is part of the qualification process for a spot on the seven-leg HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in 2024 and is played across two combined (men’s and women’s) tournaments on 21-23 April and 28-30 April in the Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Hong Kong, China Sevens head coach Paul John and men’s coach Jevon Groves have announced the squads for the two tournaments with 15 men and 16 women named ahead of departure on Friday.

All 13 of the men’s team that won the Shield at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens - the team’s first medal-winning appearance in the tournament since 2010 - are named for South Africa, along with forward battler Michael Coverdale and powerful wing Harry Sayers.

Winger Salom Yiu will mark his record-setting 71st sevens tournament for Hong Kong, China in South Africa while Seb Brien will look to carry on from an impressive performance in Hong Kong where he finished as the first ever local player to lead the Hong Kong Sevens try scoring table with six across the weekend.

The winner of the men’s Challenger Series will book a spot in a final four-team tournament alongside the three teams that will be eliminated from the World Series as it slims down to 12 men’s teams next season. That tournament will be played on 20-21 May at Twickenham Stadium in London.

Hong Kong, China are grouped with Chile, Papua New Guinea and Italy in the 12-team men’s competition.

After a lengthy process including the Borneo Sevens and Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in March and the Singapore tournament last week, nearly two dozen players had an opportunity to press their cases for the Challenger Series’ 15-man travel squad.

“We’ve used 21 senior players over the last four months and those three tournaments gave us a chance to see everyone play and to select the players we think best suits this tournament,” said men’s coach Jevon Groves.

“There were some tough decisions given that everyone has put their hands up over the past three tournaments, but this squad has the balance we need for what we expect will be a high attrition competition, with two three-day tournaments on back-to-back weekends,” added Groves.

This is Hong Kong’s third appearance in the Challenger Series, finishing as runners-up to Japan in the inaugural series in 2020 and fifth place in 2022.

“This is the event that we are targeting to win, and the last three months has given us a good opportunity to prepare and select, now it is about showing what we can do and getting the results we want,” added Groves.

It is the first time that the Hong Kong, China women’s squad has qualified for a Challenger Series place, and the latest in a season of debuts for the team after making their first appearance at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

The winner of the women’s Challenger will advance directly to the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series as one of 12 teams on the international circuit. John has selected another group brimming with experience with 10 of the 12-woman squad from the Hong Kong Sevens retained.

Squad lynchpins Natasha Olson-Thorne and Melody Li Nim-yan will once again co-captain the squad in South Africa while dynamo Chong Ka-yan has also returned to fitness. Nam Ka-man, Jess Ho Wai-on, Chloe Chan, Maggie Au Yeung Sin-yi, and Stephanie Chan Chor-ki all provide added nous.

The next generation of elite Hong Kong Sevens athletes is also on display with Agnes Tse Wing-kiu and Rosie Wright retained from the side that performed exceedingly well on its big stadium debut earlier this month, while Cherly So Yee-kei and Shanna Forrest both come into the wider squad.

Adding further cohesion to what is already a tight-knit group, the squad features two sets of siblings with Micayla and Chloe Baltazar selected alongside Gabriella and Georgia Rivers. Micayla is the lone player from this group who appeared at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens at end March. The squad will now be looking to return in its own rights as a full member of the World Series in 2024.

For head coach Paul John there is a lot to build on from the team’s performance in Hong Kong: “This is the first time for the women to participate in the Challenger Series and we are very excited to be participating. It is a great opportunity for us to carry on from the Hong Kong tournament. We should be proud of how we played in Hong Kong. We won our kick offs and our defence was good. Now the challenge is for us to make that our baseline performance, to keep that level of progress and to keep improving,” said John.

Hong Kong, China Men’s Sevens Travel Squad for HSBC World Rugby Challenger Series (April 2023):

Max WOODWARD (Capt.); Seb BRIEN; James CHRISTIE; Michael COVERDALE; Max DENMARK; Liam HERBERT; Callum McCULLOUGH; Alex McQUEEN; Pierce MACKINLAY-WEST; MAK Kwai-chung; Alessandro NARDONI; Harry SAYERS; Hugo STILES; Russell WEBB; Salom YIU Kam-shing.

Hong Kong, China Men’s Sevens Travel Squad for HSBC World Rugby Challenger Series (April 2023):

Natasha OLSON-THORNE (Co-Capt); Melody LI Nim-yan (Co-Capt.); Maggie AU YEUNG Sin-Yi; Micayla BALTAZAR; Chloe BALTAZAR; Chloe CHAN; CHAN Chor-ki, Stephanie; CHONG Ka-yan; Shanna FORREST; Jessica HO Wai-on; NAM Ka-man; Gabriella RIVERS; Georgia RIVERS; SO Yee-kei,Cherly; TSE Wing-kiu, Agnes; Rosanna WRIGHT.


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

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